Over six hundred people joined together on June 1 in Santa Ana to celebrate KidWorks’ 30th anniversary—remembering what began as a small summer Bible study class in 1994 and grew into the KidWorks of today.

Three decades later, KidWorks now welcomes 1,000 students from preschool through high school each week to three centers operating in central Santa Ana.

The June 1 celebration was held at Jerome Park, located a few blocks from our main Dan Donahue Center.

The free event featured elected officials and their representatives, special guests, live music, refreshments, food trucks, carnival games, a bounce house, a Zumba exercise session and more.

Especially poignant was the presence Larry and Jayme Acosta, who launched KidWorks from what began as that Bible study class for children and youth so many years ago.

“We parachuted into low-income, high-density apartment neighborhoods where we really had no community connections at all,” Larry recalled in an interview last year. “We knew we needed to have roots in these neighborhoods in order to be accepted and trusted, especially since at the time these areas were plagued by gangs, violence and drug dealing.”

He recalls, “In 1993 there was no way Jayme and I could ever have dreamed that an eight-week pilot program would have grown into the KidWorks we see today.”

In his remarks to attendees at Jerome Park, Larry said, “Jayme and I could have never imagined what God had in store for KidWorks. He is still at work blessing the organization. We continue to boldly and confidently pray for a bright KidWorks future.”

David Benavides,  KidWorks’ Chief Executive Officer, expressed his gratitude to all who have supported KidWorks over the decades.

“Thank you to the community for allowing us to walk with you for 30 years,” David said. “Today, we acknowledge the many community pillars joining us who have shown their love for KidWorks and our mission. Together we’ve done so much, but we’re just getting started. Imagine what we can accomplish together over the next 30 years.”

Among those joining family, friends and alumni at  the June 1 celebration were Richard Santana, representing Orange County Supervisor Vincente Sarmiento; Gabriella Lemus, representing U.S. Representative Lou Correa; and Tina Arias Miller, representing Assemblymember Avelino Valencia.

Also attending were KidWorks Board of Directors members Marco Angulo, Scott Homan, Steven Miranda and Erika Sanchez, plus Ava Steaffens, former KidWorks senior leader.

We also thank In-N-Out Burger for providing a free meal to the first 100 guests.

Please enjoy these photos and videos from the event.

By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer