Programs

Volunteer of the Month: Keng Go

For Hong Kong born Keng Go, the arrival of the Chinese Lunar New Year is always a time of great celebration with family and friends.  Those friends now include second, third and fourth graders enrolled in our after school programs.

That’s because during the last occurrence of this holiday, our August “Volunteer of the Month” took time to explain the cultural significance to our students.

Volunteer of the Month: Nancy Udave

IMG_0306.JPG

The same magic that happens each day at our main Dan Donahue Center also occurs at each of our three satellite centers.  These locations—Bishop Manor, Cedar Evergreen and Townsend—are strategically located in underserved neighborhoods.

While these satellite centers are smaller in square footage than our main center, they have just as significant a positive impact on our students.  Just ask Nancy Udave, our July “Volunteer of the Month.”

Nancy has been volunteering at our Bishop Manor center for two full school semesters and plans to continue when the new school year starts in the fall.  She makes time to help out while also attending California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Like us, Nancy recognizes the vital work that’s accomplished at each KidWorks satellite center.

“The Bishop Manor center is unique because you get to see how this community comes together to help one another,” she says.  “I enjoy volunteering at this center not only because it’s located around the area I grew up as a kid, but also because of how close-knit this community is.  These children see one another as family rather than just another classmate.”

She adds, “I’ve lived in Santa Ana my entire life, and I’m so grateful to finally being able to give back to my community, knowing that I’m helping children achieve a brighter future brings me happiness,” Nancy says. 

Nancy says, “I am filled with joy knowing that I am making a difference in a child’s life by simply helping him or her with homework or drawing outside with chalk.  Volunteering is much more than only an opportunity; we can each also make it a priority in our lives to make changes in our community to help the children in need.  There’s nothing more fulfilling than to see the children raising their hand in excitement to get help from a KidWorks volunteer.”

Brizzy Cruz, Bishop Manor’s site director, sees Nancy’s positive impact first hand. 

“Nancy has been a great assent to Bishop Manor,” Brizzy says.  “She takes the initiative in tutoring students and looks for ways to keep children focused on their work.  She is also the sweetest person and brought cupcakes for our students to enjoy at our end of the year party and Christmas party last year.  She also encourages students to try new games, plays board games and interacts during sports time.”

Nancy tells a story that perfectly illustrates how a few hours volunteering at KidWorks after school programs is so appreciated by our students:

“I was walking into the center and going straight to the fifth grade table to help with their homework.  I usually sit in the middle of the table to be able to help all the children around me. One student asked, ‘Ms. Nancy, what days are you here?’ I answered two days out of the week and his response was, ‘I wish you were here every day to help us.  I like you being here.’  I realized that I domake a difference in each of the children’s’ lives even if it’s just having someone there to talk to or saying ‘hi’ to them.”

F9DE4A6B-9A9C-4F86-A8CB-70410A969849.JPG

At the Cal State Dominguez Hills, Nancy is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Human Services.  “My career goal is to establish my myself in an agency as a social worker for neglected children,” she says.  “I also currently work at Smile Brands Inc. as a supervisor for patient financing.”

Nancy expresses what so many of our volunteers discover when she says, “KidWorks has been such a great fit for me.”

We feel the same way about you, Nancy!

By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer

 

 

 

 

 

KidWorks Avanti students to perform at St. Andrew's Pres. Church

Summer just wouldn’t be complete without a chance to attend a free music concert featuring the talented students in the KidWorks Avanti Music program.

“A Conversation with KidWorks” is Sunday, July 22, at 12:30 p.m., at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, located at 600 St. Andrews Road in Newport Beach immediately following the 11:11am service.

In addition to hearing our students perform, the program will feature touching stories shared by KidWorks youth, parents and volunteers.

“So many cities in Orange County are really just a short drive from KidWorks four centers in Santa Ana, and we hope the ‘Afternoon with KidWorks’ event will inspire not only St. Andrew’s members to consider volunteering at KidWorks, but anyone in the region who wants to lend a hand,” says Lisa Gels, our Manager of Partnerships & Donor Relations.  “You, your family and friends will fit right in with our warm and welcoming families and team.”

Lisa adds that holding the concert at St. Andrew’s is part of the church’s long partnership with KidWorks, including holding “serve days” where church members help clean and refurbish our Dan Donahue Center, rummage sales and volunteering as tutors.

Greg Chao, a church member, has been volunteering at KidWorks since March.  This most recent school term, he’s tutored a fifth grader in math and a high school student in physics.

“I see firsthand how valuable serving as a tutor is for these hard-working students,” Greg says.  “One student told me she has no one else to turn to for homework help.  The need is great, and I know church members would have a lot to contribute as volunteers at KidWorks.”

KidWorks Avanti Music was founded in 2012 by Joe Cristina, a professional musician with 38 years of experience in composition, arranging, orchestration and production.

“I know that ‘A Conversation with KidWorks’ is going to really impress everyone who attends when they see the level of talent and scholarship within the KidWorks Avanti students,” Joe says.  “Our program is aboutusing art and music to express your inner feelings, faith and observations about your surroundings.”

No advance reservations are needed to attend “An Afternoon with KidWorks.”  We warmly invite you to enjoy the music and learn more about KidWorks.

Engage With KidWorks: The Joy of Serving

Editor’s note:  Our latest blog series is called “Engage With KidWorks.”  We’re excited to share the variety of meaningful—and fun—ways you can become part of the KidWorks experience.  In our fourth installment, we invite you to volunteer with one of our exciting programs and/or help with an event or development.

Our valued KidWorks volunteers know first-hand the joy they feel when they step into one of our four centers and are greeted with enthusiasm by our students in grades preschool through high school.

Our students can’t wait to tell our volunteers all about their day and to say “thank you” for the “A” they earned on yesterday’s math assignment because of the tutoring help they received.

There are so many ways to serve at KidWorks.  We invite you to consider any of these opportunities:

UNIVERSITY STARTS NOW

Help K-12th grade students with their homework, academics, computer-based learning, and character development at one of our four learning centers

 

TUTORING

Spend individualized time with one or two students helping them in specific areas such as math, reading, and language development at one of our four learning centers.  

 

WORKSHOPS

Share a special talent and passion with our students by leading them in a fun, energetic, hands-on workshop. Workshops can focus on art, science, music, dance, creative writing, etc. 

 

PRESCHOOL

Assist the little ones in our licensed preschool facility helping our teachers with the preschool daily activities and lessons. 

 

SUPPORT

Share your important skill set with us through administrative, graphic design, party planning, marketing, IT, and other types of support.

 

FUND DEVELOPMENT & SPECIAL EVENTS COMMITTEES

Help us raise financial resources and in-kind donations critical to support the life-transforming work that we do. In-kind donations may include professional services such as advertising, design, printing and more.

 

Interested in learning more?  Please call 714.834.9400 or email volunteer@kidworksonline.org for more information and to sign up to volunteer!

 

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

SHARE

Sharing.

It’s really what the holidays are all about.

We share fellowship, meals and gifts to express love and appreciation for those who mean so much to us.

We’d be so grateful if you could share your support for KidWorks with other family and friends.  It’s a great opportunity to encourage them to consider making a contribution to KidWorks this holiday season.

Adding KidWorks to their giving list is so easy.  They can do so online at this secure link:
www.kidworksoc.org/give


Happy holidays from all of us at KidWorks and on behalf of the hundreds of families we serve throughout the year!

Foundation for Success: Helping to fund our programs for 10 years

Editor’s note:  We are pleased to present the fourth story in our latest blog series, “Foundation for Success: 10 Year Anniversary Celebration.”  In this installment, we describe how the dollars raised go such a long way to support the after-school programs at our Dan Donahue Center.

 Each school week, hundreds of students stream into our Dan Donahue Center to grow academically, learn about the arts, develop spiritually and maybe even toss a basketball around for a few minutes.

Each of these experiences—and more—in some measure or another are funded by the Foundation for Success luncheon, our premier event of the year. 

Over 10 years, $4.3 million (net) has been raised at our Foundation for Success luncheons.  Each dollar has had a tremendous impact on the lives of each of our students.

For example, for the past two years 100% of KidWorks students graduated high school on time and continued on to colleges and universities (a much higher percentage than in Santa Ana schools overall).

The majority of the luncheon’s costs are underwritten or covered by sponsors, meaning that almost every dollar raised goes towards helping the over 800 children, youth and families we serve.

As the 2016 luncheon nears, we invite everyone to be part of one of Orange County’s most anticipated non-profit events—one that for the past three years, the Orange County Business Journal has listed as one of the top five fundraising luncheons.

 

Foundation for Success:
For more information about the Foundation for Success event, or to purchase tickets, please visit: http://kidworksoc.org/foundation-for-success

To purchase tickets, please click here

 

Foundation for Success: Former Rams standout Jackie Slater to deliver keynote

Editor’s note:  We are pleased to present the second story in our latest blog series, “Foundation for Success: 10 Year Anniversary Celebration.”  In this installment, we share our excitement that Jackie Slater, former Los Angeles Rams star, will deliver the keynote address.

What could possibly be as exciting for a true football fan than the return of the Los Angeles Rams to California?  That would have to be the opportunity to hear firsthand from a legendary former Rams offensive tackle.

KidWorks’ Foundation for Success luncheon will provide exactly that opportunity when we welcome Jackie Slater as our keynote speaker.

The event will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Santa Ana/Orange County Airport, on Thursday, Nov. 17, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Jackie played his entire 20-year career with the Rams organization.  He was considered the most consistent member of one of the most potent offensive lines in NFL history.  Jackie was selected to play in seven Pro Bowls and broke a record for most seasons with one team.  His jersey number was retired and he was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

Jackie was a recipient of the Bart Starr Man of the Year Award in 1995, which is given to the player who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership on and off the football field.  He lives up to this award even after retiring as he continues to positively shape the lives of others as the offensive line coach at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California.

“KidWorks and I share a passion for helping young people reach their full potential,” Jackie says.  “Football is one of the most competitive sports ever, but the playing field is nothing like the challenges within the neighborhoods KidWorks serves.  I’m looking forward to meeting KidWorks’ supporters and sharing my story at the 10th anniversary of the Foundation for Success Luncheon.
 

For more information about the KidWorks Luncheon, or to purchase tickets, CLICK HERE

Foundation for Success: We proudly honor Mike Groff, our first Dan Donahue Leadership Award recipient

Editor’s note:  We are pleased to present our latest blog series, “Foundation for Success: 10 Year Anniversary Celebration.”  In our first installment, we express our deep gratitude to the President and CEO of Toyota Financial Services, Mike Groff, who is the 2016 Foundation for Success Luncheon honoree and recipient of the inaugural Dan Donahue Leadership Award.  

The 10-year anniversary of the KidWorks’ Foundation for Success luncheon is the ideal time to recognize and give a heartfelt  “thank you!” to a key supporter who has been with us since the very first luncheon in 2007.

We are excited to do this through the very first Dan Donahue Leadership Award, created to recognize KidWorks’ most fervent supporters and friends who have supported the luncheon since its inception.

“KidWorks has benefitted from Mike’s strategic thinking, wise counsel and generous heart,” says David Benavides, KidWorks’ Executive Director.  “We are also deeply grateful to Toyota Financial Services, as they return again this year as one of our three presenting sponsors, joining American Career College and West Coast University.”

“KidWorks understands that for our young people to truly thrive, and for a community to truly transform, we need parents, teachers, public officials, and corporate neighbors working together,” Mike says.  “For the past 10 years, Toyota Financial Services has been proud to support the amazing life-skills programs and educational opportunities made possible by the dedicated volunteers, donors and staff at KidWorks.  I am truly honored to be part of this year’s Foundation for Success Luncheon and part of the KidWorks family.”

Mike, on behalf of the more than 800 children, youth and parents we serve, KidWorks thanks you for your deep commitment and loyal support.  We are so honored and proud to present you with the very first Dan Donahue Leadership Award.


For more information about our KidWorks Luncheon, or to purchase tickets, CLICK HERE.

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

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

 

Townsend Street Fair was a Huge Success!

On Saturday, August 20, 2016 we hosted our largest community event of the year, The Townsend Street Fair. The theme for this year’s fair was Neighborhoods of Action and Hope. Our goal was to increase awareness and access to health related services to strengthen the local community, celebrate its positive attributes, and bring different resources from the community to Central Santa Ana.

Over 50 organizations and businesses attended, all of which brought fun activities for youth and children. Participating organizations included: PBS SoCal, Santa Ana College, Orange County Health Care Agency, Coalition of Orange County Community Health Centers and Community Health Initiative of Orange County, which offered free information and guidance on free and low-cost community services and educational and college opportunities.

Here are some photos from our event: 

Questions on getting involved for next year's Townsend Street Fair? Contact Frank Bejarano, Frank.Bejarano@kidworksoc.org for more information.  

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

 

 

 

 

Our High School Seniors Are College-Bound!

KidWorks is very proud that the majority of the students in our programs earn their high school diplomas, and that many also continue their education at colleges and universities.

The class of 2016 is no exception. We are pleased to share this summary of where our graduating high school seniors will continue their studies this fall.

We also asked our scholars to let you read in the students’ own words how they feel about the next step in their journey of academic excellence. Here’s what several said: 

I intend to pursue a career in law and also get a certificate in architecture. I’m really excited to check out all the potential research opportunities for undergraduates at Duke University and study abroad to learn about cultures and customs. KidWorks has prepared me by expanding my horizon and making me feel empowered.
— Melisa Castillo
I intend to major in psychology and minor in health studies with a concentration in peace, justice and human rights. KidWorks has provided me support, comfort and tools in order to grow and thrive into a much more confident being and a passionate youth. It has been my safe haven and second family.
— Rosa Urquiza
I look forward to going to UCLA in the fall so that I can begin the first step in my career as a physician. I am also really excited to get involved on campus, especially in areas of leadership and social change, which I feel KidWorks has prepared me for through my involvement in the Youth Empowerment Network.
— Jessenya Reyes
After five years of being part of the Youth Empowerment Network at KidWorks, I have been given many tools and one is the ability to speak up. I cannot wait to see what I could do with that strength at UCSB.
— Sarahi Guerrero
My proposed major is mechanical engineering. I am really excited that I’m moving on and I get to meet new people who might help me become successful. KidWorks has helped with my social skills and to value team work.
— Ismael Fuerte
The KidWorks after school program has helped improve my attention span and taught me discipline when it comes to setting time aside for study.
— Melisa Castillo
The KidWorks after school program has given me a lot of opportunities to try new things and has supported me with my college decisions.
— Simon Garcia

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

Helping Students Live Outside of their Comfort Zones

Campus Crash is hosted every spring break; We visit college campus. All KidWorks high school students are invited. We learn about what it takes to get to college, what it’s like living on campus, among other things.

This year, 26 of our youth participated. We visited Cal State San Bernardino, California Baptist University, Cal State Los Angeles, and East Los Angeles Community College. We also got the special treat of visiting the Santa Ana Police Department.

It’s important for the youth to learn about different college systems and to visit different campuses so they get a better idea of what they want in a college campus.

Because of trips like these, students chose to apply to colleges out of their comfort zone.

For some seniors, it is their “make or break” deal; they get to visit a campus where they’ve been accepted.

 

- Daniela Valenzuela, College and Career Coordinator