Community Change

KidWorks Teacher Spotlight: Raquel Nava

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     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! 

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.