KidWorks Workshops

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

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