For the 17th time since 2006, hundreds of KidWorks supporters gathered in November at our Foundation for Success luncheon.

Thanks to the generosity of event sponsors and attendees, over $500,000 was raised for KidWorks after-school programs that serve nearly 1,100 students in grades preschool through high school.

These students are on their way to earning college/university degrees as they excel academically, develop their leadership skills, grow spiritually, embrace healthy lifestyles and explore their artistic talents.

The annual event took place on Nov. 9 at the DoubleTree Santa Ana. We were delighted to see an increase in attendance by young professionals and encourage these individuals to consider getting involved with KidWorks and to invite their organizations to do so as well. 

“As we operate three centers in Santa Ana that serve a growing number of students and their families, we are grateful that every dollar raised at the Foundation for Success luncheon is already hard at work supporting our vision, ‘We unleash youth potential,’” says David Benavides, KidWorks’ Chief Executive Officer and Board Member.

This year’s honorees and recipients of the Dan Donahue Leadership award are Camille and Tim Strader, Jr.

“The list of Camille and Tim’s contributions to KidWorks over the years are too many to calculate,” says David Benavides. “They’ve been generous with time, talent and donations, along with trusted leadership counsel.”

Adds David, “This very special, once-a-year award recognizes KidWorks’ most fervent supporters who share our passion and commitment to provide educational opportunities and life-changing experiences for students growing up in some of Orange County’s most overlooked neighborhoods.”

The Dan Donahue Leadership award was created to honor the memory of the man whose vision led to the funding and building of our main Dan Donahue Center, which opened in 2005.

In it, Tim says how he resonates with the KidWorks desire to walk alongside our students from “from pre-K to B.A.”

“To me, that’s very, very important,” Tim says. “We’re taking kids from pre-K with our licensed preschool here at the facility all the way through college.”

“Both of us were raised by parents who have very generous hearts and who have always given back to the community,” Camille says. She adds that it’s “a way for us to continue that legacy of giving back.”

Luncheon attendees also viewed a video featuring Erika Sanchez, an alumnus of KidWorks programs who is now Director of the Hispanic Serving Institute at Concordia University in Irvine, California.

In it, she says that growing up as a young person in Santa Ana in the 1990s offered joy but also presented many challenges.

“There was a lot of violence going on, a lot of gang issues and things kids shouldn’t be seeing,”  Erika says. “At KidWorks, I found a safe haven for me and my family. It was a place to grow and start dreaming big about my life.” She says we helped equip her “with the ability to do big things.”

The keynote speaker at the Foundation for Success luncheon was Grant Lottering, a cyclist who defied death and achieved extraordinary feats. He’s continuously astounding both the medical profession and audiences by going beyond the limits of what is thought to be possible. In addition to his extreme-endurance cycling, Grant is an author, UHSM (Unite Health Share Ministries™ ambassador athlete and international speaker.

We are deeply grateful to our generous event sponsors: Presenting, Diamond, Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. 

As KidWorks celebrates our 30th anniversary, we give thanks to everyone who attended and supported the Foundation for Success luncheon and all who have walked with our students and their families as we enter our fourth decade.

By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer