Nestor Morones—our November 2023 “Volunteer of the Month—readily relates to the  students he works with at our Dan Donahue Center. That’s because he was once one of them.

Nestor’s parents, Maria and Isaac, first enrolled him in KidWorks’ programs when he was in second grade. He continued to attend KidWorks through his high school graduation in 2017.

Nestor benefitted from our after school academic program, leadership classes, college/university guidance, community service opportunities and more.

His brother, Daniel, 30 and sister, Roxana, 22, also attended KidWorks during their school years.

Now a college student, Nestor is an intern with the City of Santa Ana’s youth employment program and volunteers 20 hours a week at KidWorks.

“Nestor has volunteered an amazing 600 hours so far,” says Rachel Cervantes, our Volunteer Coordinator. “He’s kind, down to earth and the students to feel at ease and happy with him.”

His duties are varied, including:

“What excites me about returning to KidWorks is coming back to a place that played such a big role in my development,” Nestor says.

He adds, “The staff and volunteers helped with my homework when there was an English language barrier at home; now, I can do the same for students facing the same situation. Regardless of background, I believe everyone deserves opportunities and chances.”

Nestor remembers the approach our teachers and volunteers took with him when he was a KidWorks student and applies these techniques as a volunteer.

“My style a very calm and understanding,” Nestor says. “I approach situations with the goal of finding a middle ground with the students. For example, most sixth graders are not big fans of reading so I encourage them to read about something they are interested in, like cars or music.”

Nestor also empathizes with the challenges and concerns so many students face.

“KidWorks guided me academically in every way,” he says. “This ranged from helping me with homework to showing me the value in pursuing higher education after high school.”

Nestor adds, “The teachers and volunteers encouraged me to keep going during moments I wanted to drop out of high school.”

He especially thanks Jessica Ellis, Senior Site Supervisor, Dan Donahue Center and Maria Ruvalcaba, our Youth Leadership Development Coordinator.

Our November Volunteer of the Month has also grown in confidence and skills as a leader.

“I never really viewed myself as a leader,” he explains.  “KidWorks taught me otherwise. Slowly, the students started to view me as an example to follow.”

He adds, “Positivity was in the air. Life has its moments where we become leaders and examples to follow. I just feel blessed that I was able to become a good example to the children and youth who need role models in their lives.”

Beyond academics, Nestor says KidWorks also instilled in him a lifelong desire to give back to the community and serve others, especially in an under-resourced community like central Santa Ana.

“KidWorks was my biggest motivator when it came to giving back,” he says. “So, giving back as a volunteer at  KidWorks feels like I’ve come full circle.”

During his high school years as a KidWorks student, KidWorks provided Nestor opportunities to serve others in ways that included distribution of food to homeless residents and hours spent picking vegetables for a local food bank.

 “The employees at the food bank said we picked enough vegetables that day to feed 1,000 people and that was a great feeling,” Nestor says.

He calls the opportunities KidWorks provided to give back to the community “some of my fondest memories.”

In his spare time, Nestor has a wide range of interests, including painting, hiking, acting, editing videos and  baking. He’s also a music lover and plays the bass acoustic guitar and piano.

Nestor says his career goals include “appearing in a movie, writing my own book and finishing my album.”

We saw the wonderful potential in Nestor when we first met him as a second grader. We continue to see that endless potential realized as he works with the young minds he helps mold as a valued volunteer and mentor.

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.