One of our most popular communications are our Volunteer of the Month stories. As we turn the page on 2022, your KidWorks team is delighted to recap—and celebrate once again–the 12 Volunteers of the Month recognized in 2022. For 2023, we’ll continue to highlight our wonderful volunteers, partners and supporters.

January: Isaias Castillejos

In just a few years, college student and KidWorks volunteer Isaias Castillejos is likely to be standing in front of a middle school classroom as a fully credentialed teacher. He’ll have more than his university degree and teaching credentials to offer—our January “Volunteer of the Month” will also have many hours of experience working with several grade levels of KidWorks’ students. Moreover, Isaias exhibits a trait that’s invaluable to any teacher: The ability to meaningfully connect to every young mind filling the seats in his classroom. “I grew up in south central Los Angeles, so I feel I can relate to them; plus, it feels nice for kids to see volunteers of the same ethnicity as them who attend college or a university. Volunteering aligns so well with my major in education with a specialization in children learning development.”

February: Vicki Randall

Vicki Randall, our February 2022 “Volunteer of the Month,” recently retired from Delta Air Lines after a 43-year career as a flight attendant. It’s probably no surprise, then, that she says her formula for success in working with our preschool students is “to be calm, patient and encouraging.” Vicki is an absolute favorite with the young scholars who attend our state-licensed preschool. Minda Barrera-Vargas, one of our preschool teachers, says she loves “how Vicki enjoys listening to the children’s stories and jokes.” Adds Minda,  “Vicki is a great listener. It’s very neat to see how she smiles or laughs with the children.” If you ask Vicki, she’s actually the one having all the fun.

March: Rachid Chamtieh

“I’m a big believer in the notion that the course of our lives is largely impacted by life opportunities, those that come naturally and those that are presented to us by people who go the extra mile,” says Rachid Chamtieh, our March 2022 “Volunteer of the Month.” He adds, “KidWorks’ focus on changing lives by walking in the shoes of our kids and their families aligns with my beliefs that the power of change always starts from within.” Rachid does much more than share this philosophy, he lives it as a 13-year leader and supporter of KidWorks. As Managing Partner of Deloitte’s Audit & Assurance Pacific Southwest practice based in Costa Mesa, Rachid has provided exceptional financial stewardship, advice and wisdom to KidWorks. He’s served in several volunteer executive/leadership roles.

 April: Jared Pacheco

“If you want something done, ask a busy person.” No one knows for sure who first said these wise words, but the quote is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. The KidWorks team might suggest another version of the quote: “If you want something done, ask Jared Pacheco.” This tenth grader at Valley High School is our April 2022 “Volunteer of the Month.” Not only has he been active in a variety of our programs since fourth grade, Jared has also been volunteering at KidWorks for over a year. Jared helps tutor grades kindergarten through fifth during our afterschool programs, does administration work for our volunteer department (including scanning, printing and filing) and assists with set-up, decorating and clean-up at KidWorks events.

 May: Karen Eckelbarger

Over her 47-year career as an elementary school teacher, Karen Eckelbarger taught thousands of third-graders cursive penmanship. So, who better than this longtime KidWorks volunteer to put her own elegant handwriting skills to work addressing envelopes and short thank you notes from our staff to generous donors and supporters? Her faithful service behind the scenes is both inspirational and invaluable, which is why we nominated her for volunteer of the month at KidWorks. “I’ve been doing the addressing and short notes twice a year for about three years, with about 400 each time,” Karen says. “So, I guess so far that’s more than 2,400. I like to use a felt tip pen for easy movement across the paper. I sort of became an ‘expert,’ proving the old adage that practice makes perfect.”

 June: Floresita Sanchez-Garcia

When a person volunteers at KidWorks, his or her impact is deeply meaningful, whether they volunteer for a few days or several decades. A perfect example is Floresita Sanchez-Garcia, our June 2022 “Volunteer of the Month.” Floresita volunteered at KidWorks from March through June, as part of the University of California, Irvine’s service hours graduation requirement. (In June, Floresita earned two separate Bachelor of Arts degrees from UCI, one in education sciences and the other in psychological sciences.) She’s the first in her family to graduate from a university.  While at KidWorks, Floresita was up for any and every task requested of her as she assisted in the Volunteer and College & Career departments.

July: Kathi Ursini

Kathy Ursini, our July 2022 “Volunteer of the Month,” is deeply inspired by a famous quote from John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach: “Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”Kathy is a natural leader who inspires by example. As Event Chair of our successful 2022 Women’s Pickleball Tournament, she led a team that exceeded their fundraising goal by generating $50,000 net and involved even more partners. Our Volunteer of the Month is quick to thank her pickleball committee members for all of their work to make the event such a winner. “The committee was wonderful and made it much easier to reach our fundraising goal,” Kathy says. “Everyone did what they said they would do; they were really fantastic!”

August: Maureen Moore

When Maureen Moore arrived at KidWorks to tutor second-graders each Monday and Wednesday afternoon during the 2021/2022 academic year, she knew that each session began with a prayer led by one of the young students. Those prayers always included thanking God in ways only a second-grader can. After giving thanks for such wide-ranging blessings as the classroom chairs, their family pets and even crayons, you’d often hear this refrain: “And thank you, Jesus, for Ms. Maureen.” That would be Maureen Moore, our August 2022 “Volunteer of the Month.” “I chose KidWorks because of the children,” Maureen says. “I love how their eyes light up when they accomplish something on their own or learn something new.” Adds Maureen, “I was very impressed by how all the children behaved with courtesy and respect. They were happy, energetic and eager to learn.” 

August: Maureen Moore

Pacific Dental Services® (PDS) has been behind tens of thousands of healthy smiles since they began business in 1994. Today, some of the biggest smiles can be found at KidWorks, where the company and its team members have generously partnered with us since 2015. It is with this gratitude and deep appreciation that we honor PDS as our September 2022 “Volunteer of the Month.” “The partnership with KidWorks has brought joy to so many of our team member’s lives,” says Vivian Loi, a marketing specialist at PDS. She adds, “Whether it’s connecting our team members with an opportunity to serve for the first time or inviting our families to volunteer alongside us, the act of service truly changes our hearts.”

October: Sarah Yoon

Last year, Los Alamitos High School sophomore Sarah Yoon was searching for volunteer opportunities where she could work with children.  Our October 2022 “Volunteer of the Month” spent time online researching a perfect opportunity. That’s when she found KidWorks. Sarah serves as a tutor, teaches music and dance workshops and has volunteered during the summer program. She says, “KidWorks has been my favorite place to volunteer because of the welcoming staff, wonderful kids and engaging activities. There’s always something fun to do; you can tutor kids, build relationships with students and introduce them to different experiences that open up a whole new world to explore.” As each after-school session begins, Sarah finds meaningful ways to connect and interact with our elementary school scholars.

November: Luna Paz

Luna Paz—our November 2022 Volunteer of the Month—has a Bible-inspired servant’s heart. As an eighth grader whose favorite subject is religion, Luna is both a student and volunteer at KidWorks’ Cedar Evergreen satellite center. “I can always count on Luna to step right up and help in the classroom wherever and whenever she’s needed,” says Brizzy Cruz, Site Director. “To have this spirit of volunteerism at such a young age is so inspiring,” Brizzy adds. “Luna is a wonderful role model for other students in my classroom. By her actions, she impresses upon them the joy of helping others, living your faith and being a responsible leader.” Brizzy and Luna have formed a special bond. “Ms. Brizzy is charismatic and kind,” Luna says. “She connects so well with all the kids. I can tell her anything about what’s going on in my life. I do anything that’s needed in Ms. Brizzy’s classroom. I help other students with their homework, check their work and read to the younger ones.”

December: Monica Garcia

When college student Monica Garcia volunteers at our state-licensed preschool, she can’t help but see herself in the faces of our youngest scholars. That’s because our December 2022 “Volunteer of the Month” was a KidWorks preschooler herself. In fact, she was enrolled in our after-school programs up to her senior year in high school. Now young adults, her brother and sister, Daniel and Nereyda, also first attended KidWorks when they joined our preschool program. “I decided to volunteer in the preschool because Nereyda volunteered there,” Monica says. Monica has been a preschool volunteer since October. She relates perfectly with the students as they begin their first steps towards academic success.

By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer

Interested in joining others as a KidWorks volunteer? Learn about the many ways to take part: