KidWorks Parents

KidWorks Parent Council Gears Up For Even Bigger Dreams in 2018

IMG_7954.JPG

Vianey Quiroz and Maria Peña never set out to be role models when they joined the KidWorks’ Parent Advisory Council.  Yet, their hearts for their families, central Santa Ana and KidWorks has led them and 18 other parents to grow in ways they never imagined.

Vianey and Maria are members of our Parent Council, a group formed four years ago to strengthen the bond between KidWorks and the families we serve.

Now, the council is setting even higher goals for itself for 2018 and beyond.

“The council is expanding its focus to include not only KidWorks, but the community as a whole,” says Sonia Rios-Guzman, Parent Engagement Coordinator.

That has included everything from advocating for better street lighting, pushing sometimes reluctant landlords to make necessary apartment repairs and even addressing ways to improve traffic flow at our Dan Donahue Center during especially busy times.

“We really benefit from the leadership workshops where KidWorks has brought in outside speakers,” Vianey says.  “We have learned that to make meaningful change you have to understand how government works, make contacts with decision-makers and rally neighbors together because two, three and four is better than one when it comes to issues we all care about.”

Adds Maria, “I went from being an observer to now knowing that I want to be a part of making improvements at KidWorks and the community.  I want to give my time, effort and support.”

Like all members of the KidWorks Parent Council, Vianey and Maria have students enrolled in our programs.  For Vianey, that includes her son, Jared, a fifth grader; and Jair, a kindergartener.  For Maria it is her daughter, Stephanie, a ninth grader.  The 20 parents run their monthly council meetings like a well-managed business.

IMG_7726.JPG

“It’s so good to watch these parents work together as a strong team,” Sonia says.  “For each 90-minute monthly meeting, they come prepared with an agenda, prioritize goals and are now in the process to assigning responsibilities and deadlines.  They are a really hands-on group, lending invaluable support to events such as our annual resource fairs in the neighborhood.”

Maria says that one of the key lessons she has learned as part of the Parent Council is that meaningful changes rarely happen overnight.

“When a positive change happens, it’s worth all the time, effort and even occasional frustration that it takes,” Maria says.  “Because it means we’ve made life a little better for a child, a family and a community.”

Dedicated parents like Vianey and Maria, along with the other members of the KidWorks Parent Council, guarantee that Maria’s dreams for an even better Santa Ana are coming true.  

For more information about the KidWorks Parents Council including a calendar of events, click the button below. 

By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer

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 

A Closer Look: KidWorks’ Programs: Community Parent Council

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”!

“They’re definitely fired up.”

That’s how Frank Bejarano, our Director of Youth and Family Engagement, describes the KidWorks Community Parent Council.

The Community Parent Council is a group of eight women from the neighborhood that’s nearby KidWorks’ Dan Donahue Center.  Over the past eight-plus years, they have turned fear and concern about the problems on the streets where they and their families live into action that has significantly improved the quality of life.

“When they started out, these women had never spoken before a city council or navigated through the processes required by a local governmental agency,” Frank says.  “Now, they can confidently sit at a table across from staff representatives from the City of Santa Ana or get all the permitting and approvals needed for a large street resource fair.  They are impressive to watch in action.”

While KidWorks provides meeting facilities and advice, the Community Parent Council is largely autonomous.  They identify the issues of safety, neighborhood improvement and community collaboration that matter most to them.  Then they get results.

Several examples of their success include having the city replace burnt out lights at Jerome Park, getting approval for a crossing signal to be installed at an intersection where pedestrians have been struck by cars and pushing landlords to spruce up rundown buildings. 

“One of their most effective outreaches was a community walk attended by the Director of Public Works, Code Enforcement Manager Alvaro Nuñez, Santa Ana City Manager David Cavazos and Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas,” Frank says.  “The women showed them first-hand the impact of gangs, illegal drug dealing and infrastructure neglect.  The community parent councilmembers are tenacious.  They don't quit.  Results soon followed.”

The KidWorks Community Parent Council focuses on external issues in the surrounding neighborhood, while the KidWorks’ Parent Advisory Council works with our staff to offer suggestions and ideas about how we can continuously improve our programs.

“Both are examples of how those we serve take a personal ownership in their community and the overall well-being of others,” Frank said.  “Their enthusiasm is a fire that never goes out.”


By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer