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!”

She adds, “Planning next year’s tournament will be even easier because most the committee members want to and are able to be part of the pickleball event once again.”

Kathy has been described as a “get-it-done” and “behind the scenes” person.

Kyle Team, a member of the KidWorks’ Board of Directors and Chair of our Women’s Committee, describes Kathy this way:

“Kathy is proactive, organized and fun. She gave structure and leadership to what was already a great group of women.”

Adds Kyle, “Kathy is goal-oriented and organized but always makes sure we have fun and remember the ‘purpose behind the pickleball’.”

Kathy says she remains inspired by the advice of a maintenance worker at the high school her children attended. “He always said, ‘There are no problems, only solutions.’ He was such a positive force and I’ve tried to adopt his attitude,” Kathy says. 

She adds, “I’m detail-oriented and don’t like surprises, so I tend to over plan. But come the day of the pickleball event, if something doesn’t go as planned for some unexpected reason, that’s when I remember his wise words.”

Kathy has been part of our pickleball tournament since its inception in 2020. “I played in the first tournament, served on the committee the following year and chaired the 2022 event,” Kathy says.

Kyle says Kathy is already at work with ideas and plans to improve the 2023 tournament, set for next April.

In addition to her pickleball involvement, Kathy has agreed to be part of the Founding Leadership Team for the KidWorks’ Women’s Committee.

Kyle describes the women’s group as being focused on helping KidWorks’ students excel through the group’s “fun, faith and philanthropy” philosophy.

Kathy and her husband, John, have supported KidWorks financially for years

John owns Newport Rib Company and they participated for the first time in our Festival of Orange County Chefs fundraiser held July 17. She’s also helped assemble care packages for KidWorks students heading off to a college or university.

Having enjoyed a career as a teacher, Kathy now devotes a lot of her time perfecting her pickleball game and helping KidWorks and those we serve.

“As a first generation American whose parents immigrated from Germany and Austria, I see KidWorks as a vehicle to help continue making the American Dream a reality,” Kathy says. 

She adds, “We are one of the few nations where an immigrant’s children have the opportunity to go to college and change the trajectory of their family tree.”

“I’m honored to partner with KidWorks because they do God’s work by teaching kids ‘how to fish’; they  teach instead of just give—and that changes lives generationally,” Kathy says.

Kathy and John live in Newport Beach and are the parents of Allie, 26; Angelo, 23 and Nicholas, 23.

Kathy and John also enjoy time with their dog, Bailey (“She’s a golden retriever who doesn’t retrieve,” Kathy says and a tortoise (who Kathy describes as “the easiest pet on the planet.”).

We are so grateful that Kathy and John have partnered with KidWorks for so many years. And we’re blessed that our July Volunteer of the Month’s “get-it-done” approach has made the Women’s Pickleball Tournament one of our most popular and successful events.

By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer