Like many students enrolled in KidWorks’ programs, Cristian Vega knew he wanted to say “thanks” by serving here as a volunteer.

Cristian attended our programs from eighth grade through graduation from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana. He joined KidWorks at the same time as his younger brother, Enrique.

Our March 2024 “Volunteer of the Month” is a senior at Orange Coast College; he’s about to earn his associate of arts degree in speech language pathology.

Cristian became a KidWorks volunteer in 2018 and continues to volunteer as he makes plans to attend a four-year college or university. So far, he’s logged over 150 volunteer hours.

“Cristian is a dedicated alumni who has remained committed to KidWorks and our students,” says Rachel Cervantes, Volunteer Coordinator.

“Cristian could easily get wrapped up in the busyness of college, work and family commitments, yet he chose to return to KidWorks and volunteer,” Rachel adds. “Cristian always shows up in a big way. He’s such a dependable person.”

“Cristian is an alumnus I can reach out to when we need volunteers, knowing that he will say yes,” says Brenda Trujillo Sanchez, our Senior College & Career Manager. 

She adds, “Most recently, Cristian supported our annual Youth Lock-In, a once-a-year event for students in grades six through 12. It’s a night of fun, food, faith and fellowship.”

Cristian has also volunteered at our Festival of Chefs fundraising event, pickleball tournament, Noche de las Estrellas graduation celebration, after-school programs, set up/clean-up for events and at Campus Crash, where students visit college and university campuses to plant the seed of higher education after high school graduation.

Cristian has fond memories of his years as a KidWorks student.

“I was involved in pretty much everything KidWorks offered,” he says. “That included after school tutoring, summer and spring programs, youth groups and college preparation.”

In addition to Campus Crash, our College & Career preparedness programs at KidWorks include the College & Career Success Initiative™ (C&CSI). The initiative prepares first generation college students for higher education beyond high school. College preparedness also includes our College Apps Academy, our 25-week program for high school seniors that provides guidance through the college application process, including support with college and financial aid applications, scholarships, admissions essays and tips on how to have a successful transition into college.

After they start their higher education, our engagement continues with our college counselor, care packages for our college students and more.

KidWorks guided Cristian to apply and earn a scholarship to Mater Dei. After graduation, our college preparedness team assisted in his application and acceptance at Orange Coast College.

He is also one of our gap scholarship recipients. A gap scholarship provides financial assistance to students who for a variety of reasons and situations take a year or more after high school graduation before starting at a college or university.

KidWorks has also supported Cristian’s dream of becoming a licensed speech therapist.

We introduced him to Cindy Rodriguez, owner of Esperanza Speech Therapy. Cristian shadowed her for a class assignment. This January, we connected Cristian with Collaborative Therapies where he now works as a behavior interventionist, someone who guides clients to positive behaviors and actions.

Our March “Volunteer of the Month” wanted us to pass on his thanks to past KidWorks team members who worked with him over the years, along with current team members, including Lazaro Espinosa Bahena, Facilities Manager; Rachel Cervantes, Volunteer Coordinator; Jessica Ellis, Senior Site Supervisor, Dan Donahue Center; Vanessa Hernandez, Volunteer Manager and   Brenda Trujillo Sanchez, Senior College & Career Manager.

In his spare time, Cristian enjoys working out at the gym, visiting the beach and attending Angels games with his brother, Enrique. 

We are inspired by Cristian as he pursues a four-year degree and eventually begins a career in speech language pathology.

This is a young man who early in his youth demonstrated a heart to serve others. We see Cristian bettering the lives of others for decades to come. 

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.