Community

KidWorks Teacher Spotlight: Karina Flores

On a chilly, mid-January afternoon, Karina Flores leads a group of about two dozen elementary school students on a short walk to Jerome Park in central Santa Ana.  They’ve earned a 20-minute break from their after-school homework lessons at our Townsend Street Center.

“Stay in a straight line,” Karina gently admonishes.  “Don’t cross the alley until you make sure no cars are coming.”

“OK, Ms. Karina,” they chime in unison. 

Karina has a special bond with her students.  She grew up on Townsend Street where this KidWorks satellite center is located and knows first-hand the struggles and challenges of an underserved neighborhood.

In fact before she joined our staff, Karina was a KidWorks student herself, attending our programs from sixth grade all the way through high school.  She was a member of the first-ever group of students who comprised Community Leaders of Santa Ana (CLOSA), our youth-led organization that helps improve the surrounding neighborhood with cleanups, sponsored events and other activities.

“I want each student to know that whatever hardships they and their families are going through, that the KidWorks center is a place that for 90 minutes each day they have a safe, encouraging place to go,” she says.

As she leads her class, Karina’s gentle, quiet personality shines through—and so does her strength.  Recently, a second grader approached her in class and asked if he could color with crayons.

“Yes, but only after you read for 10 minutes,” Karina said.

“How about after five minutes?” the boy said, smiling playfully.

“Ten minutes of reading and then you can color,” she countered.  Turning to a visitor, she laughed and said, “They learn to negotiate at a very young age!”

Jocelyn is one of Karina’s seventh grade students who is so inspired by her teacher that she also volunteers several hours, four days a week at the Townsend Center.

“I trust Ms. Karina so much,” Jocelyn says.  “She’s talks with me when there are problems at my school where I faced bullying or conflicts.  She’s helped me deal with those challenges in the right way.”

Outside of work, Karina and Jose Ayala, the Health & Fitness Program Coordinator at our main Dan Donahue Center, are busy planning a June wedding.

They enjoy hiking and camping together, and have visited the Grand Canyon, Sequoia National Forest and Yosemite.  She also enjoys action and romance movies.

Karina, everyone at KidWorks is so proud of the way you have grown from a diligent student in our programs into a site coordinator and role model for other children and youth as you mold them into equally contributing members of the community.  Thank you!

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

KidWorks Teacher Spotlight: Raquel Nava

0 
 0 
 1 
 7 
 43 
 Kidworks 
 1 
 1 
 49 
 14.0 
  
  
 
  
    
  
 Normal 
 0 
 
 
 
 
 false 
 false 
 false 
 
 EN-US 
 JA 
 X-NONE 
 
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
 
 
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
    
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
   
 
 /* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
	{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
	mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
	mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
	mso-style-noshow:yes;
	mso-style-priority:99;
	mso-style-parent:"";
	mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
	mso-para-margin:0in;
	mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
	mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
	font-size:10.0pt;
	font-family:"Times New Roman";
	mso-fareast-language:JA;}
 
     Raquel with third-grader, Adrely

Raquel Nava’s eyes brim with tears when she speaks about her own childhood—and how those difficult years fill her with empathy for the students she works with each day at KidWorks.

Raquel was sent to California from Mexico to live with an aunt when she was just six years old.  Her parents have never really been a part of her life.

In elementary school and high school, Raquel’s heart grew softer instead of harder when other students poked fun at her because she didn’t fully understand the culture, speak fluent English or wear newer clothes.

But Raquel learned perseverance and goal setting that led to her earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree.  She paid for her education herself, working three jobs at once.

Raquel has been with KidWorks for nearly two years.  And she’s one of our students’ favorites.

“At one point, I was pursuing a career in film production, but eventually I realized that in my heart my real desire was to help the underserved, especially those in Santa Ana where I grew up,” Raquel says.

KidWorks has proved to be an ideal match with Raquel’s natural teaching gifts and her empathetic nature.

“If a student comes to class without a pencil, my own experience has taught me that it doesn't mean he or she is unprepared,” Raquel says.  “The student may be dealing with other difficulties at home or in school that we might not yet know about.”

Having been a resilient self-starter, Raquel now instills the same skills in the second, fifth and eighth graders she teaches.

“I assign them to be line leaders, teacher’s assistants and door monitors,” Raquel says.  “They learn to take responsibility, just like they’ll need to do in the work world.”

Raquel is a huge believer in positive reinforcement.

“If a student has a really good day, I’ll phone the parents and tell them, ‘Your child was amazing today,’” she says.  With a wink she also adds, “In other cases I might smile at a student and say, ‘Remember, I have your mom’s cell phone number and can text her!’”

Raquel and her husband, Everardo, a certified public accountant, lead busy lives.  Everardo regularly volunteers at our after school programs.  They both enjoy cooking (pozole, a traditional Mexican stew is one of Raquel’s specialties), yoga and bingo.

Raquel, thank you for being such a shining star and fully sharing your caring heart with all of KidWorks students.

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer 

Your January Hope Report is here!

Did you receive the KidWorks January Hope Report in your mailbox this week? If not, check it out HERE.

Want a hard copy? No problem! Copies are available at the KidWorks Dan Donahue Center. Pick up at the front desk Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm, 1902 W. Chestnut Avenue, Santa Ana, CA. 92703.  

Don't miss out on all the latest and greatest from KidWorks! 

With a little help, a struggling student becomes a star

Our KidWorks teachers mean the world to us. They work so hard to provide our students with support, encouragement, and the tools they need to succeed. Our teachers are developing community leaders and agents of change in central Santa Ana. Teacher,  Rachel Cervantes, is no exception. Her commitment to her students goes unmatched. 

It’s a fact:  In any school, some students struggle a little bit more than others.

That’s where the compassion of KidWorks teachers and volunteers really kicks into high gear. 

Our mission is for every student to perform at his or her full potential.

Recently, Rachel Cervantes, a Program Leader at our Dan Donahue Center, helped a fourth grade boy overcome some behavioral issues and gain confidence.

“When Eduardo (not his real name) first joined the program this summer, we could see that he was going to be a handful!” Rachel said.  “He was easily distracted and that impacted all the other students.”

Yet, by working with Eduardo and his mom, a corner was soon turned.

Today, the words Rachel uses to describe Eduardo are “lively,” “sensitive” and “helpful.”

She also thanks Jessica Ellis, Site Director, Dan Donahue Center, for her guidance.  Jessica suggested ways to involve Eduardo and his mom in monitoring his behavior both at home and at our center.  It’s helped point Eduardo in the right direction.

“I am thankful for Jessica’s guidance, instruction and for her heart for the kids,” Rachel says.

We are proud of students like Eduardo, and forever grateful to teachers like Rachel and all our volunteers who make a permanent positive difference in the lives of those we serve.

 

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

GIVE

giving.jpeg

With just hours left before we welcome 2017, KidWorks has a wonderful idea about how to finish 2016 on the right note.

Please considering saying “goodbye 2016” and “hello 2017” by making a donation to KidWorks.

It’s easy to do.  You can do so securely online at this link:

www.kidworksoc.org/give


We are so grateful for every dollar that helps us serve hundreds of children, youth and parents in central Santa Ana.

 

Happy New Year everyone!

 

SHARE

Sharing.

It’s really what the holidays are all about.

We share fellowship, meals and gifts to express love and appreciation for those who mean so much to us.

We’d be so grateful if you could share your support for KidWorks with other family and friends.  It’s a great opportunity to encourage them to consider making a contribution to KidWorks this holiday season.

Adding KidWorks to their giving list is so easy.  They can do so online at this secure link:
www.kidworksoc.org/give


Happy holidays from all of us at KidWorks and on behalf of the hundreds of families we serve throughout the year!

GIFT

82089993-1.jpg

We all smile when we hear the traditional Christmas song telling us that Santa is “making a list and checking it twice.”

At KidWorks, we’d like to remind you to check your list, too!

That’s because the Annual KidWorks Christmas store for the families we serve in central Santa Ana is just days away. This year, the store will be open to serve families on December 13th and 14th. 

The store allows parents who might otherwise be unable to afford gifts for their children to buy them at a significant discount.  And all proceeds go into a benevolence fund to help those families in need during the holidays and the rest of the year.
 

There are three ways you can help this holiday:

1. GIFT a new, unwrapped item, a gift card, or wrapping supplies to KidWorks by December 9, 2016. 

2. DONATE financially to our end of year giving campaign at www.KidWorksOC.org/give.   

3. SERVE in one of our many weekly programs and bless a KidWorks students this holiday season. 

Interested in knowing more?  Please visit www.KidWorksOC.org

Your help will help continue our 14-year tradition of creating holiday smiles!

KidWorks Students Give Thanks

We asked our students "What are you thankful for?" and they had some great answers!

“What I’m the most thankful for is the KidWorks Center.”
-Cynthia Ramirez
 
“What I’m the most thankful for is you guys being here to help us with the homework.”
-Joselyn Torres
 
“What I’m the most thankful for is the opportunity for new experiences at KidWorks Programs.”
-Isabel Rivas
 
“What I’m the most thankful for is the center. It has helped me improve my homework and grades.”
-Sophia Sanchez
 
“What I’m the most thankful for is the neighborhood cleanup event.”
-Cynthia Espinoza
 
“What I’m the most thankful for is my baby brother and food.”
-Natalie Beltran


“What I’m the most thankful for is the support of my family and friends. The opportunity to get an education.”
-Gabriel Beltran
 

Giving Thanks: Karen Gallardo-Cano

Editor’s note:  We’re delighted to present the third installment in our latest blog series, Giving Thanks.  As everyone prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving, we feel this is the perfect time to invite KidWorks’ friends and families to share a little about what they are most thankful for.  Look for another installment next week!

Karen Gallardo-Cano knows exactly the blessings she’s thankful for this holiday season.  In fact, they number in the dozens.  No, they are not material goods.  This high school sophomore and KidWorks student is most thankful for the many KidWorks staff members, volunteers and fellow students who have positively impacted her life.

“I am so grateful to everyone who is in my life because of KidWorks,” she says.  “The staff and volunteers always push me to go the extra mile.  They sit by my side and let me know that I matter.”

Karen takes her appreciation for others and applies it to her leadership position as president of Community Leaders of Santa Ana (CLOSA), our youth-led organization that helps improve the surrounding neighborhood with cleanup, sponsored events and other activities.

Like a good leader, she is quick to say “thanks” to her team, including Maria Contreras, vice president, Nancy Cervantes, secretary and all the CLOSA membership.

“They are amazing,” Karen says. 

Karen is also thankful for each of the 24 hours in a day.  Without a doubt, she fits all she can into her waking hours.  Karen is a member of the green environmental club at Valley High School and serves as Associated Student Body Vice President for the class of 2019.

And did we mention that she also makes time to play on the school’s varsity and junior varsity water polo teams?

Speaking of giving thanks, we are so grateful to Karen for being a KidWorks student for 11 years, and for the time she spends as a volunteer helping other children and youth.

Now, if someone could just invent the 30-hour day, Karen would find a meaningful way to fill that time, too!
 

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

 

Giving Thanks: Elizabeth Nilsen-Doble

Editor’s note:  We’re delighted to present the second installment in our latest blog series, Giving Thanks.  As everyone prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving, we feel this is the perfect time to invite KidWorks’ friends and families to share a little about what they are most thankful for.  Look for another installment next week!

____________________

If you ask a teacher what she’s especially thankful for, it’s not surprising that the value of education is right at the top of the list.

In fact, the love of learning and teaching is a common thread that’s woven throughout Elizabeth Nilsen-Doble’s life.

Elizabeth Nilsen-Doble

Elizabeth Nilsen-Doble

This KidWorks volunteer was a teacher in New York and California for four decades.  Now, she generously brings that wealth of experience to us when she serves as a tutor and after school program volunteer at our Dan Donahue Center.

“I taught in both public schools locally in Cypress and in an independent school in Brooklyn Heights, New York,” she says.   “I especially loved the sense of challenge and wonder I saw in my sixth grade students.  I’m grateful to have worked with so many incredible young people and their families across the years.”

Elizabeth is also quick to express thanks to her parents and the church.

“My parents immigrated to the United States from Norway,” she says.  “I was the eldest of four children.  They took us to church, taught us to be responsible and cheered us on whenever we worked hard and made progress.”

Elizabeth is also grateful for the fellowship she enjoyed at the Lutheran church in Brooklyn when she was growing up.   She is now equally thankful to be part of the congregation at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach.  That’s where she first heard about KidWorks.

“At KidWorks, I always find lots of smiling faces, and students filled with energy and a love of learning,” she says.

Elizabeth Nilsen-Doble and family

Elizabeth Nilsen-Doble and family

Elizabeth perfectly summarizes her own feelings during this season of thankfulness:

“I thank God for health, friends and all the family.  Above all, I thank God for His Love, for His peace, for His strength.”  


By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

 

Our students learn about democracy on Election Day

Our second graders received a timely lesson about democracy and good citizenship when they were able to practice voting this week.

They marked pretend ballots and slipped them into the ballot box as fellow second graders played the role of poll volunteers.

It was a wonderful lesson on how the democratic process works.  One young second grader wondered if he had to put his name at the top of the ballot, just as he does with his homework.  Learning about the difference, he quickly completed his ballot, glad to know that his voice was heard and his choice registered.

When these second graders turn 18, they’re likely to remember the lesson they learned this week about the importance of voting.

Giving Thanks: Maria Villa

Editor’s note:  We are introducing our latest blog series, Giving Thanks.  As everyone prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving, we feel this is the perfect time to invite KidWorks’ friends and families to share a little about what they are most thankful for.  Look for another installment next week!

______________

Maria Villa knows instantly what fills her with gratitude and thankfulness as the holidays approach.

“If you met my grandmother, Fermina Flores, you’d know why I want to share my story by saying how grateful I am for having her in my life,” Maria says.  “She raised and guided me all these years, and so that is why I prefer to call her Mom instead of Grandmother.”

Maria's grandmother provided her with all the love, care, and resources she needed growing up.  She lovingly refers to her grandmother as the “ultimate role mode”:  Always being caring, lovable and hard working.

Maria and her husband, Juan Carlos, are proud parents who also readily express how grateful they are for their children.

“I have two little ones, Ashley, who is in first grade and enrolled in KidWorks’ programs, and Carlos, who is two-years-old,” Maria says.  “My husband and I always do our best with our children.   Every day, I remember how Fermina raised me, and I put those parenting skills to good use with my own children.” 

Maria sees her life and her family as a blessing from God. She expressed how thankful she is for every blessing God provides to her family each and every day.   

“I'm thankful for every person at KidWorks who has made an impact in my daughter and in me throughout the time my family and I have been a part of their programs,” she says.  “KidWorks has helped Ashley with her studies, and improving her reading and social skills.”

Maria has a heart of gold and we are grateful that her family is a part of KidWorks as well.  

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer 

St. Andrew's Comes to KidWorks for a Serve Day!

Thank you St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church for coming to KidWorks for your Serve Day 2016. KidWorks has been a long time ministry partner of St. Andrew's and on Saturday, September 17th,  many members of their congregation came to our Dan Donahue Center for a Serve Day. 

Volunteers hosted a carnival for our families and participated in reading buddies with our K-5th grade students. Another team of volunteers revamped our storage space to accommodate more instruments for our music program, Avanti. 

Avanti leader, Joe Cristina, led a group of volunteers in working directly with our music students and we ever had a parenting workshop.

Here are some photos from our event! 

A Closer Look: KidWorks’ Programs: KidWorks University Workshops

Editor’s note:  We are pleased to introduce our latest blog series, “A Closer Look: KidWorks’ Programs.”  We offer a full range of programs for children, youth and adults.  In this series, we focus on several of aspects, giving you a peek into what makes these programs tick—and sharing a few “little known secrets”!

You can always tell when KidWorks posts the list of workshops conducted by our volunteers:  Students crowd around the sheet, clamoring to sign-up for their favorites.

“Whether its music or woodworking, our KidWorks University workshops fill up fast,” says Noemi Juarez, KidWorks’ Director of After School Programs.

The workshops are individually tailored for students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The idea behind KidWorks University is twofold:  First, it allows our students to learn to make the choices they’ll increasingly face as their educations progress, such as what major to select in college.  Secondly, it also gives the students a chance to develop their creative sides, which is part of our “whole student” approach to academics, character and spiritual development.

“In many ways, KidWorks University starts to give our students a taste of what a college or university environment will be like,” Noemi says.  “They develop skills and interests, and even have the chance to try something new, to have a variety of experiences.”

Variety definitely describes KidWorks University.  Classes have included music (classical, folklorico and more), ballet, acrylic painting, pop art, chess, soccer, physical fitness, computers, cooking, electronics (where they made their own flashlights) and poetry.

“Surprise—poetry was more popular than I thought it was going to be!” Noemi says.

She points out that the workshops are all volunteer-led.  Each workshop is four to five sessions and there are three to four workshop cycles each year.

“The volunteers are so passionate about their skills, talents and hobbies,” Noemi says.  “They are so delighted to share them with our students.  Some volunteers have been conducting workshops at KidWorks for years.”

Noemi says that workshop leaders have included anyone with a passion for something they want to share.  Volunteer workshop leaders have included high school and college students, Boy Scouts, professionals and retirees.

Interested in leading a workshop?  Just let us know.  Our students are sure to fill every seat!


By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

 

Townsend Street Fair was a Huge Success!

On Saturday, August 20, 2016 we hosted our largest community event of the year, The Townsend Street Fair. The theme for this year’s fair was Neighborhoods of Action and Hope. Our goal was to increase awareness and access to health related services to strengthen the local community, celebrate its positive attributes, and bring different resources from the community to Central Santa Ana.

Over 50 organizations and businesses attended, all of which brought fun activities for youth and children. Participating organizations included: PBS SoCal, Santa Ana College, Orange County Health Care Agency, Coalition of Orange County Community Health Centers and Community Health Initiative of Orange County, which offered free information and guidance on free and low-cost community services and educational and college opportunities.

Here are some photos from our event: 

Questions on getting involved for next year's Townsend Street Fair? Contact Frank Bejarano, Frank.Bejarano@kidworksoc.org for more information.  

The Women of KidWorks: Melissa Peralta

Editor’s note:  This is the latest installment in our blog series, “The Women of KidWorks.”  We celebrate the tireless women who generously serve at our centers each week.  Some of these women also happen to be the mothers of our students.  Others are KidWorks employees.  Their humility, perseverance and love touch our students, staff and volunteers each day. This week, we highlight another very special mom!

Melissa Peralta’s six-month-old daughter, Alanis, isn’t exactly sure where her mom goes each morning.  All Alanis knows is that she definitely doesn’t want her to leave.

Melissa, who has been KidWorks’ Volunteer Resources Manager since 2014, knows that one day her young daughter will understand that the unlimited love she has for her also extends to the hundreds of children and youth that Melissa pairs with our dozens of volunteers.

Since her days as a student at the University of California, Irvine, Melissa has had a deep desire to help others.  Her position at KidWorks represents that ongoing commitment.  Prior to KidWorks, she’s served at Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and Olive Crest in roles that included case management and volunteer engagement.

As a child, Melissa spent summers and weekends with her grandmother, Chole, at Chole’s home just a few blocks from our Dan Donahue Center.  The neighborhood today still faces the challenges of gangs, drugs and violence that it did back then.

“As children, we weren’t allowed to go outside the gate; we had to stay in the front yard,” Melissa recalls.  “Whenever I heard the gunshots, my Mom would say, ‘Don’t worry.  We’ll make sure you are safe.’  It wasn’t until years later that I knew what I was being protected from.”

Melissa sees KidWorks as an antidote to the negative aspects of the neighborhood.

“The kids are so happy to come to our centers,” she says.  “They are eager to learn and to be safe from what is happening outside our doors.”

Melissa sees a clear link between the help our volunteers provide to our students and her own parenting responsibilities with Alanis.

“I do everything possible to invest in my daughter’s future,” she says.  “Our volunteers are also doing everything in their power to make the same investment in our students.” 

As KidWorks expands and accepts more students, Melissa knows that there is much hard work ahead to recruit even more volunteers. 

Her parents, Benjamin and Carmen, who worked long hours to provide for their family, inspire her.  “I am willing to put in as many hours as it takes so KidWorks continues making a positive impact in Santa Ana,” she says.  “I tell every volunteer that even if they are only able to dedicate one hour a week, they are having a crucial impact on young lives.”

As six-month-old Alanis grows older, we know that she will be filled with pride in her mom and all she does to help others. Of course, KidWorks and our dedicated volunteers already feel that way, Melissa!   

The Women of KidWorks: Eleazar Díaz

Eleazar Díaz sees the bigger picture when she waters, weeds and prunes the plants and vegetables in the KidWorks community garden and compost at our Dan Donahue Center.

As a long time volunteer, she is keenly aware not only of the thriving plants, but also the positive growth in the community where KidWorks serves.

Eleazar is gladly willing to get her hands dirty in the garden soil, and she’s also learned to be a leader on our Dan Donahue Group of Moms and Parent Advisory Council.

It all began over 10 years ago when a neighborhood mom invited her to volunteer at the KidWorks preschool.  Her daughter, Yosely, then three-years-old, was too young to enroll—but Eleazar said “yes” to the volunteer request anyway.

“Since then, Eleazar has been one of our most dedicated and committed volunteer moms,” says Sonia Rios-Guzman, our Parent Engagement Coordinator.

Eleazar, quiet and humble, gives much of the credit to her daughter, Yosely, now 13-years-old, and a student in our after school programs.

“Before I enrolled Yosely in the KidWorks preschool, we’d walk by the center and she’d say, ‘Mom, I want to see the kids!’”

Eleazar brought her little daughter with her when she volunteered at our preschool.

“Yosely would pick up a white cloth and help me clean the counters,” she recalls.  “The very next year, she was old enough for preschool and we enrolled her.  Since then, KidWorks has become part of us.”

In her 10-plus years as a KidWorks volunteer, this mom has grown out of her natural shyness and learned to speak up with ideas and suggestions that are welcomed by the KidWorks’ Parents Advisory Council and Group of Moms.

“Eleazar is a real motivator for our parents, and she’s a role model, too, because she’s willing to take on any task,” Sonia says.  “When the parents or moms councils have an upcoming meeting, she goes down the list making phone calls reminding them to attend.  She’s a good planner too, and helped us with the countless details required to make our annual Townsend Street Resource Fair a yearly success.”

To Eleazar, the garden she helps tends is not the only metaphor for the potential within the central Santa Ana community where she and her family live. 

“When the doors first opened at the Dan Donahue Center, I saw this as a place that would be my support system,” she says.  “Today, when I come to volunteer, I love seeing that those doors are still wide open.  It means they are open for me and other moms to volunteer, get involved and make a difference.”

You continue to make a tremendous positive difference, Eleazar.  We appreciate all you do!

 

By Glenn, Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

The Women of KidWorks: Monica Contreras

Editor’s note: We are proud to introduce our latest blog series, “The Women of KidWorks.” We celebrate the tireless women who generously serve at our centers each week. Some of these women also happen to be the mothers of our students! Their humility, perseverance and love touch our students, staff and volunteers each day. This week, we highlight one very special mom!

Over a decade ago, Monica Contreras looked out the living room window of her Santa Ana house and asked herself, “I wonder what they are building across the street where the old tortilla and taco shell factory used to be?”

Soon, she learned that all the hammering and painting would lead up to the opening of KidWorks' main hub, the Dan Donahue Center.

When KidWorks held an open house, Monica stopped by to see what services were being offered.

She soon enrolled her then four-year-old son, Miguel, into the KidWorks preschool program.

Since that first introduction to KidWorks, Monica has been one of our most dedicated and steadfast volunteers. She didn't just enroll her children, she became part of the family, and has worked hard to make her community better from the inside out. 

She began her volunteer duties at our preschool, washing dirty dishes, picking up stray toys, helping the teachers put together learning packets and raising her hand to volunteer for anything else that was asked of her.

Eventually, all of her children enrolled in our preschool program and now continue with our after school program.  That includes, Maria, now in ninth grade, Miguel, sixth grade, and Jimena, first grade.

“At the KidWorks preschool, I really enjoy reading to the kids and helping out with field trips,” Monica says.  “Me, my husband and our kids have received so much from KidWorks, that volunteering for me is a way for me to give back at least as much as we’ve received.”

Monica also serves on our Parent Advisory Council, which is a way the KidWorks’ team receives valuable feedback and ideas about how to continuously improve our programs and services.

She’s also become a resource to other parents seeking advice about raising their children and helping to direct them to available community resources.

“I often say to them, ‘Now that your kids are involved with KidWorks, why not get involved yourselves as volunteers?’” Monica says.

You’d think that all this volunteering would tire a person out.  Not Monica.  She’s also been a longtime member of the KidWorks running club, and now has 16 half marathons to her credit.

Sonia Rios-Guzman, our Parent Engagement Coordinator, says Monica has the perfect temperament to work with the kids and provide leadership on the parent council.

“She’s so good at making others feel comfortable,” Sonia says.  “We love her sense of humor.  During Monica’s more than 10 years as a KidWorks volunteer, she has been able to win many hearts.  She’s definitely a top mom!”

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer 

 

Noche De Las Estrellas

On Friday, June 10th, we celebrated our annual Noche De Las Estrellas (Night of the Stars). Noche De Las Estrellas is an evening to celebrate our graduating seniors and this year was one for the books! 

We are so proud to be sending our students into the world better equipped for college, the workforce, relationships, volunteerism, and community building! But our job doesn't end here, we are committed to doing life with these rock stars for the long haul. 

Help us congratulate the KidWorks Class of 2016!

Our Students Win Top Honors in Art Contest Promoting Fair Housing

Two young KidWorks students were recently recognized not only for their artistic talent, but also for their social awareness.

Fifth graders Lesly and Aaliyah took first and third place respectively in a poster contest sponsored by the Fair Housing Council of Orange County.

The students’ artwork was selected from among hundreds of posters submitted by students in grades four and five.

“The contest gave KidWorks students an opportunity to learn about fair housing laws and to depict what they learned in an artistic style that represents their views on fair housing choice,” says Kriss Goss-Marr, our Director of After School Programs.

The winning students were presented with a framed picture of their poster, a certificate, and a cash prize.

“I couldn’t believe that I had gotten third place out of all of those drawings,” Aaliyah says.  “I just drew a house with all the things that I would want for my family in my home.”  She is a student at our Bishop Manor center.

Lesly and Aaliyah are also applying the lessons they learned at KidWorks about financial literacy.  Both plan to save the money they were awarded.

It’s inspiring to see our students envision their ideas about fair housing choice. Many live in overcrowded and very difficult home environments where it would be easy to get discouraged. However, this contest provided encouragement to dream and create change so that fair housing laws and healthy living conditions would be a reality for all.
— Kriss Goss-Marr, Director of After School Programs