Editor’s note:  In this occasional feature, we are proud to introduce you to our newest team members. Each one looks forward to working with our wonderful partners and supporters, along with those we serve.

Ariana Ceja, Administrative Services Assistant

I’m excited to be a part of KidWorks, an organization with such a great mission. 

“I love being able to work doing what I love and knowing that all my effort goes to support such an amazing purpose, which is the children and youth of our community!

“I started at KidWorks last August. Before that, I worked at a tax service. It was a very challenging position; I learned to work with all types of personalities and clients.

“In my spare time, I love doing crafts, decorating and cooking, where I try out new recipes.”

Jason Cruz, Program Assistant

“My focus is to be there for all the students and work hard to give them all the support they need and deserve.

“What’s excited me most since joining KidWorks last August  is to see the positive impacts I’ve made as I see my students learn and grow. 

“I’m also discovering new ways my own abilities fit in with this amazing organization.

“Before joining KidWorks, I worked at a hospice for several years. My last title there was assistant administrator. I wore many hats, including human resources, operations, information technology, security, emergency management and community liaison.

“In my spare time, I enjoy trying new foods and also creating recipes at home.

“I also volunteer at another local non-profit called Bracken’s Kitchen, a KidWorks partner.”

Haide Gutierrez, Site Supervisor—Townsend Street Center

“I was enrolled in KidWorks’ programs since kindergarten—and was excited to return about a year ago as a Program Assistant. In this role I helped implement curriculum for kindergarten through 12th grades.

“I’m now transitioning to Site Supervisor at KidWorks’ Townsend Street Center. That’s the same center I attended as a student!” (Editor’s note: Haide is taking on this role from Karina Flores, who has been promoted to Associate Site Supervisor, Dan Donahue Center.)

“In my new role, I’ll focus on our kindergarten through eighth grade students. Plus, I’ll be working very closely with parents, continuing to develop and nurture the tight-knit community already there.

“I look forward to creating new relationships with my students and being a support system for all the parents. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve my community.

“Before joining KidWorks, I was employed at the Student Success Initiatives (SSI) Office at the University of California, Irvine. I was a Gateway Scholars Peer Educator, providing low-income first-generation students with the tools that they needed to succeed at the university. I helped students choose their classes and managed SSI’s social media, plus other duties.

“In my spare time, I’m an avid reader. My 2024 goal is to read 100 books and have completed 10 so far.”

Abigail Moore, Donor Relations & Outreach Manager

“My first experience with KidWorks was as a classroom volunteer almost 10 years ago. I’ve followed the great work the organization has done for years and am so delighted to be onboard in a staff capacity, beginning last November.

“I’m also excited to work at a community development organization that prioritizes the neighborhoods they serve through asset-based community development.

“I’m part of the KidWorks’ philanthropy team, primarily focused on corporate fundraising and making inroads with new partners.

“I recently been working on my dissertation for my master’s degree. I’ll graduate from the University of Edinburgh this December with a Master of Science degree in Social Justice and Community Action. 

“My dissertation topic focuses on Indigenous rights to self-determination and the use of literary activism as non-violent direct action in the land back movement at Bears Ears (now a National Monument) in southern Utah.

“Earlier, I was on the philanthropy team at Biola University.

“I spend my leisure time caring for plants and I’m also a huge reader.”

Nestor Morones, Program Assistant

“My first introduction to KidWorks was as a student enrolled in KidWorks programs (from second grade to high school graduation). Up until February, I was an intern at KidWorks through a program sponsored by the City of Santa Ana. Then, I joined the KidWorks team as an official staff member.

“I’m especially excited about the positive change and impact I can bring to the team.

“I try my hardest to do the best job possible, believing that productivity increases when you have passion about what you do and that fantastic things come when those around you see that. 

“Each day, I bring my personality and positive energy to the KidWorks’ team. 

“As a Program Assistant, I’m focused on helping students with their homework during after school programs and also managing the classroom environment.

“As an intern and now as a staff member I returned to a place that played such a big role in my development.

“I’ve always been an introvert, so KidWorks gives me a chance to get out of my comfort zone and improve my conversational skills. So, please don’t be shy about coming up to me and starting a discussion.

“In my free time I play musical instruments. I also write and compose original songs on my keyboard, guitar, bass and ukulele. 

“I love watching Gordon Ramsay’s cooking shows; they inspire me to want to become better at cooking and cleaning.

“Currently, I’m taking college classes on three-dimensional modeling, animation and video game development.”

Patricia Nava, Family & Community Program Assistant

“I’m excited to be able to work closely with the families here at KidWorks as well as within the community. 

“Something I really love about KidWorks is how they provide an extensive number of resources for the parents, community and students. KidWorks is an all-inclusive welcoming space.

“I started at KidWorks last September and my role is focused on helping and working closely with the families. 

“Before joining KidWorks, I worked in a small workers’ compensation law firm as the receptionist. My day-to-day duties included answering phones, scheduling appointments and helping attorneys with any task that needed done.

“In my free time I enjoy hiking and being outdoors.”

David Saucedo, Youth Associate

“l began my new role as Youth Associate, prior to that having been a Program Assistant at KidWorks. In my prior assignment I worked with our first and seventh grade students.

“I first joined the organization in December 2022.

“Being a person of faith, I pray that God continues to motivate me and keep me accountable in doing my job in a proper manner to the best of my ability. I pray that God continues to use me to make a positive impact on our students.

“As a Youth Associate, I’m involved in planning special events, such as Youth Nights, Lock-In, and Elevate, a program that focuses on urban youth.

“What really motivates me in my new role is to make a positive impact on our youth and continue to build relationships with each of them. 

“I also want to build memories of KidWorks that they’ll take with them as they get older.

“Outside of KidWorks, I volunteer as a youth softball coach and play men’s fastpitch.”