Community Projects

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

 

High School Senior Justin Sung Helps Us "Build Dreams"

Justin Sung, a senior at Sage High School in Newport Coast, immediately knew whom he wanted his Eagle Scout project to benefit.

“With all the help that KidWorks provides to others, the least that I could do is give back to KidWorks by dedicating my project to such an amazing organization,” he says.

We think Justin is pretty amazing, too!

Eagle Scout is the final and highest rank a Boy Scout can achieve.  For his project—which was months in the planning—Justin designed and built a beautiful wooden bench and a brand new art cabinet, both of which as now installed at our Dan Donahue Center.

“We are also thankful that that Justin choose KidWorks for his Eagle Scout Project,” says Raquel Nava, Arts and Academics Coordinator at the Donahue Center.  “Our students are already sitting on the bench as they wait for programs to start, and we’ve filled the cabinet up with art supplies we use each day.”

Justin’s connection with KidWorks began when his older brother, Ryan, started a club at Sage High School called ReachOut, which organizes various projects that help our students.  When Ryan graduated, he passed the leadership baton on to Justin, who now serves as the club’s president. 

Justin says that ReachOut is already planning more projects to support KidWorks in the months to come.  We are very grateful to Justin and ReachOut for their dedication and love for our students.

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer 

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

Living Out Our Mission in Santa Ana

18 corporate groups, nearly 700 volunteers, over 3000 pairs of shoes, and 1 amazing goal. Saturday, May 21, 2016 was an amazing day of partnership in Santa Ana. KidWorks joined forces with Love Santa Ana Initiative and OneOC for a day of beautification projects at Madison Elementary School and beyond! 

 Employees from Disneyland, Pacific Life, and Taco Bell, and other corporations teamed up with local community groups to benefit KidWorks and the community here in central Santa Ana.

Our commitment is to restore at-risk neighborhoods one life at a time ... with the goal of transforming the neighborhood
— David Benavides, KidWorks Executive Director