KidWorks Staff

KidWorks Parent Council Gears Up For Even Bigger Dreams in 2018

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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.

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“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

Karina Flores: Longtime KidWorks student is now a leader on our team

It’s inspiring and uplifting to hear the words Karina Flores uses to describe the impact she hopes to have in her newly promoted role as Site Coordinator for our Townsend Street Center:

“I hope that the students as well as the families see me as a person they can trust,” she says.  “I hope to have a positive impact in their lives, whether it’s by helping students with homework or just having a conversation.  I would like to be a positive impact in the students’ lives, in the same way that KidWorks made such a lasting impact in mine.”

And when she refers to the positive impact KidWorks has had on her life that speaks volumes.

Karina joined our programs as a sixth grader and continued through her high school years.  She was also 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.

She didn’t know it at the time, but her immersion in KidWorks was the perfect preparation for her to join our staff in 2012 as an assistant within the after-school program.  Since then, she’s had roles that have included assisting with KidWorks University workshops and a program leader at the Dan Donahue Center.  For the past four years, Karina has also been a member of the leadership team responsible for the kindergarten through fifth grade summer program.

Karina is the perfect person to take on the Site Coordinator role from Jessica Ellis, who was recently promoted to Site Director for the Dan Donahue Center.  That’s because Karina had been assisting Jessica at the Townsend Center in 2014.

“Karina is so caring and encouraging with each of the students,” Jessica says.  “She’s always motivating them and willing to share her personal story about the many obstacles she too faced while growing up in the community.  Karina sees the potential in each student and really tries to pull out the best in each one.”

Having grown up in Santa Ana, Karina is well suited to understanding the challenges and opportunities within the neighborhoods we serve.

In addition to the academic achievement she works to develop in each student, Karina also hopes to impart even more of what she’s gained through her KidWorks years: “I was able to grow both personally and spiritually.  I came to know God at a deeper level and grow in my faith.”

Outside of work, Karina has a full range of interests and hobbies.

“I absolutely love to dance!” she says.  “In high school I was part of the school’s performing dance team.  It has always been a passion of mine ever since I was a little girl.  I also enjoy doing arts and crafts, scrapbooking and painting.”

Please join us in congratulating this delightful member of the KidWorks team on her new role and in wishing Karina every success.

 

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer