Second graders in KidWorks’ after-school programs know that Ed Duong—our February 2024 “Volunteer of the Month”—is the go-to guy when it comes to anything from helping with a tricky math homework problem to microwaving their chicken nuggets snacks to just the right temperature.

Ed volunteers an impressive 16 hours each week (Monday through Thursday), working with second and eighth graders, along with assisting at our events and community outreach. He also helps with high school students when needed.

“Ed has excellent charisma with the students,” says Rosie Estrada, Program Assistant. “He’s like a best friend to them. He’s very open-minded and always finds solutions when students need additional support with certain subjects. Ed makes it a priority to help everyone in the best way possible.”

Ed has donated over 200 hours of his time since he first started volunteering in January 2020, with a hiatus when the pandemic put in-person programs on hold.

He discovered KidWorks through an online search, having previously volunteered at soup kitchens and with food drives, but was looking for a different experience.

“I wanted to work with youth from under-served neighborhoods in a way that would be impactful,” Ed says.

“Establishing good habits while someone is still young and highlighting their potential helps encourage them to continue striving for success.”

Ed graduated from UCLA in 2023 with a Bachelor of Science degree in molecular, cellular, and development biology with a minor in biomedical research.

He plans to attend medical school and is keeping an open mind about an area of specialization, such as becoming an ophthalmologist or a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician.  

“Ed is a standout volunteer,” says Vanessa Hernandez, our Volunteer Manager. “He brings such positivity to our after-school programs, along with joy and laughter to events as Fun Fridays, Youth Feast and Youth Lock-in.”

Vanessa adds, “His warm-heartedness and eagerness to support wherever required are truly uplifting. Ed’s remarkable dedication reflects his genuine care for every student. We’re truly fortunate to have such an exceptional volunteer on our team!”

Rachel Cervantes, our Volunteer Coordinator, says Ed “has been an incredibly consistent and dependable volunteer who always goes above and beyond to make sure the students and staff have the support they need.”

Our February “Volunteer of the Month” is very intentional and thoughtful about every aspect of volunteering, including how to approach homework help to maximize learning potential.

“I prefer to help the students solve the work themselves as opposed to outright telling them the answers,” Ed says. “For example, I accomplish this by alternating between reading a problem and having them read it. I also double check their work, point out their mistakes, and ask them how they can fix them.”

Ed adds, “I encourage the use of tools such as the abacus or finger counting for math. For the older students, I help them by showing them how to do or set up a problem and then having them do a problem. If they need more help, I always ask them what the next step should be.

“For grammar, I have them read the sentence or take turns reading sentences if it is too much for them. I try to have them do most of the work with me guiding them if they don’t initially grasp a concept.”

Ed employs this approach with a view of the long-term benefits it yields.

“I hope the students learn good habits and foundations at KidWorks to work towards a brighter future,” he says. “I hope that KidWorks continues to be a community and mission-driven organization that helps youth grow and have a sense of belonging and allows parents to be involved with the development of their sons and daughters.”

As Ed takes the next steps in pursuing a medical career, we can attest firsthand to his deep care and compassion for others. We are honored that he has chosen KidWorks as a place to share himself.

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.