Our May 2019 “Volunteer of the Month” is all about showing care and compassion towards others. In fact, while not interning and volunteering at KidWorks, Angelique is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from West Coast University and anticipates graduating in October.
KidWorks is blessed to have 936 volunteers serve each year at our four centers contributing an impressive 14,936 hours of service. Volunteers serve in our classrooms, help with graphics and blog writing and even help us raise money. As part of National Volunteer Week 2019, we want to recognize two outstanding volunteers at KidWorks who were named co-volunteers of the year because of their outstanding service.
Dale has taught KidWorks University workshops since 2012, focusing on electronics, weather science, computer programing and woodworking. An electrical engineer by trade, with decades of professional experience, having designed automated test equipment for hydraulic components, industrial grade battery chargers and telecommunications equipment.
If you put Amanda Iglesias in charge of a Christmas toy drive for underserved kids, be prepared for record-breaking results.
Our February “Volunteer of the Month” led the effort to fully stock our 2018 Christmas store, which allows parents to purchase deeply discounted gifts that they would otherwise be unable to afford for their children.
Six years ago, professional musician Joe Cristina had a conversation with himself. He asked, “How does a Christian artist, musician and person of faith function in the secular world and make an impact and grow in their faith?”
Our December 2018 KidWorks “Volunteer of the Month” heard God’s answer, and he hasn’t slowed down since.
Julissa Velasco--our October 2018 “Volunteer of the Month—may still be finishing up college, but you’d think she has had decades of teaching experience when you see her skillfully tutoring students enrolled in our afterschool programs
That’s because Julissa has for years made it a point to volunteer with tutoring programs offered in Santa Ana, where she’s lived most of her life. That includes the elementary school she attended as a child.
Cheri Chan, our valued September 2018 “Volunteer of the Month” smiles each time she hears our teachers gently but firmly call our students to attention. Cheri—like many of our volunteers—just can’t get enough of KidWorks.
In fact, she doubles her fun by volunteering at not just one of our centers, but two: The Cedar Evergreen and Townsend satellite locations, which are embedded in locations where most of our students live just steps away from homework help.
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.
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.”
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 May “Volunteer of the Month” Areli Pelaxtla clearly has boundless energy. Anyone who works with preschoolers—as Areli has been doing since last summer—knows that first hand. on top of keeping up with our ever-curious and perpetually in-motion youngest students as an intern and volunteer in our state-licensed preschool, Areli also holds down two part-time jobs (one at a bank and the other at a department store) while attending California State University, Dominguez Hills as a junior majoring in Human Services.
As a KidWorks volunteer tutor, you know you’re making a big impact when a sixth grade student can’t wait to rush up to you to show off her report card.
A few weeks ago, that’s exactly what brought a big smile to the face of Camille Strader, our April “Volunteer of the Month.” Camille has a volunteer at KidWorks since 2016 and has impacted the lives of countless students!
“I was born and raised in Orange County, yet until I became involved with KidWorks, I had no idea that there was so much need just a 15-minute drive away from where I grew up in Irvine.”
With those poignant words, Melissa Ley—KidWorks March “Volunteer of the Month”—describes how her heart was touched to “jump right in to see where I could help improve the lives of children and young adults.”