Elizabeth Chavez—our September “Volunteer of the Month”–doesn’t usually expect to be pelted with water balloons when volunteering at the Dan Donahue Center, but when it came time for outside fun with students during our summer program, well, she just didn’t want to miss out on one airborne droplet.

“She gladly took part in our water day knowing she would get wet and had so much fun doing so!” says Rachel Cervantes, our Arts Coordinator.  

 “Seeing her have so much fun with the kids was awesome,” adds Jacky Hernandez, Program Assistant/Program Leader.

“Playing with water balloons, laughing and trying not to get wet was so much fun,” Elizabeth says. 

Our September “Volunteer of the Month” is truly a hands-on, jump right in type of volunteer.  The recent California State University, Fullerton graduate helps out with in-person after school programs, offering homework help, tracking student attendance, distributing snacks, joining in during recreation time and sanitizing tables, chairs books and doorknobs in the classroom after a session.

A volunteer since February 2020, Elizabeth was worked with students in grades first, third, fifth and sixth.

“Elizabeth began her volunteer experience with us with a bang,” says Gerardo Magaña, our Senior Director of Volunteer and Leadership Resources. “During her interview process, she shared how she looked forward to the opportunity to give back to her community. And that’s exactly what she does.”

Adds Gerardo, “Throughout the time KidWorks held virtual programming due to the pandemic, we stayed in touch with Elizabeth and waited for the right opportunity for her to reengage. That opportunity came during the summer. Elizabeth was among one of the first volunteers we had back onsite and in person for our summer programs. She has since been a tremendous help with our fall launch, helping in the classroom two to three days a week.  She is always so eager to help and has such a servant heart. We are incredibly blessed to have her be part of our team.”

Elizabeth was introduced to KidWorks through her sister, Mayra, who has attended and volunteered at KidWorks.  

“Mayra told me about her experience, so I was interested in volunteering at KidWorks,” Elizabeth says. “The KidWorks staff are so friendly; I feel comfortable talking to them and offering my opinion on various subjects.” 

“Elizabeth has been a consistent presence for our students,” Jacky says. “She always comes in willing to help in any way she can, never hesitates to support in a crazy, fun activity and has built strong relationships in a short amount of time. Our class is so grateful to have her as a volunteer.”

Adds Rachel, “Since beginning her volunteer journey this past summer, Elizabeth has been a steadfast, reliable volunteer. She takes on tasks with a smile and works so diligently. I love how intentional she is when helping our students with homework. Without having to be asked, Elizabeth grabs cleaning supplies and sanitizes every chair and table, all while leading other volunteers to join her to usher in our next group of students.”

Adds Rachel, “Elizabeth has helped in many tasks a few being: printing, leading games, sanitation of classrooms and homework help. Our combo kindergarten/first graders are lucky to have her and have grown so fond of her quiet, reassuring nature.”

Jacky describes Elizabeth this way:  “She has a quiet, sweet spirit about her that the students gravitate to easily. She is always patient and does all tasks with a willing heart.” 

Elizabeth is glad KidWorks has been able to safely return to in-person programs, allowing her to reconnect with our students. “I was joyful because after so many months away, I was able to see the students back at KidWorks,” she says.  “The most rewarding part of working with students is that they are very creative and intelligent. Most importantly, students are part of our future and the present of the world and I’m glad that I can be part of this generation of students.”

After graduating with a university degree in public administration, Elizabeth now plans to attend graduate school and pursue a master’s degree. In her leisure time, she enjoys going for walks, attends church with her family and loves playing and watching soccer.

The team at KidWorks is inspired by the way Elizabeth always enthusiastically jumps in without having to be asked. Even when that means happily taking incoming fire from flying water balloons.

By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer