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.

“Being a KidWorks student myself helps me as a preschool volunteer because we were taught by the same preschool teachers,” Monica says. “I connect with the kids by calling them by their names. Whenever they’re excited about something, I ask them to tell me about it and why It’s important to them.”

One of her class of 2009 preschool teachers was Alma Magana, who continues as a valued member of our team.

“Having been a KidWorks students since preschool has allowed Monica to understand where our children come from and how to communicate with the child if they have English as a second language,” Alma says. “Children build trust when they are able to communicate and build a relationship.”

Alma has fond memories of Monica from those preschool days.

“Monica had a warm smile combined with a shy and quiet demeanor,” Alma says. “She was very observant and loved to sing. Monica was everyone’s friend; she knew how to get along with the other students.”

Idalia Galdamez, KidWorks’ Preschool Director, says Monica’s help in the classroom is a true blessing.

“Monica assists with many duties in preschool,” Idalia says. “For example, she welcomes the children when they arrive, prepares the literacy and home activity packets and supervises restroom, eating and small group time.”

Monica knows firsthand that students often form long term friendships while at KidWorks.

“I met one of my friends through the preschool program,” Monica says.

She says volunteering with the preschoolers is “heartwarming because I hear them sing and dance to different songs.”

They can also make Monica laugh at the joy preschoolers find in the simplest of experiences: “For Halloween, the kids were painting paper bags to look like pumpkins and preschooler Sofia was focused on painting her hands instead of the bag!”

Monica remembers the pride she felt when she took part in her own KidWorks preschool graduation ceremony years ago—and wants today’s preschoolers to cherish those same memories.

“I hope to see the KidWorks preschoolers in their caps and gowns as they go onto the next grade level,” she says. 

Monica says her KidWorks experience as a student was invaluable in keeping her on the path towards college. At Santa Ana College she is working towards earning an associate of arts degree in psychology and plans to attend a university beginning in the fall of 2024.

“KidWorks is special because you can always count on someone to guide you in a situation,” Monica says. “When I was a student, the staff cared about my success in school. KidWorks helped me grow academically and there was always a volunteer to help me with my homework when I needed it.”

In her spare time,  Monica says she “enjoys going to the beach, watching sunsets, spending time with my niece and nephew and listening to music.”

She adds, “In high school I enjoyed dancing and performing; now, I enjoy stretching and doing pilates in my room when I feel stressed over school.”

We have been blessed to see hundreds of KidWorks students grow with us from their early preschool years into college/university graduates and then on to meaningful careers.

We are so proud of how well Monica represents everything we pray for on behalf of our students. Well done, Monica!

By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer 

We invite high school and college/university students to learn more about how KidWorks can provide you with opportunities to earn service hours, intern and volunteer.