Last year, Los Alamitos High School sophomore Sarah Yoon was searching for volunteer opportunities where she could work with children. 

Our October 2022 “Volunteer of the Month” spent time online researching a perfect opportunity. That’s when she found KidWorks.

Sarah serves as a tutor, teaches music and dance workshops and has volunteered during summer programs.

She says, “KidWorks has been my favorite place to volunteer because of the welcoming staff, wonderful kids and engaging activities. There’s always something fun to do; you can tutor kids, build relationships with students and introduce them to different experiences that open up a whole new world to explore.”

As each after-school session begins, Sarah finds meaningful ways to connect and interact with our elementary school scholars.

“When I first greet the kids as they arrive at the Dan Donahue Center, it’s usually right before we go into the classrooms or before homework,” Sarah says.

“I always introduce myself and ask about their day at school or what they did over the weekend. I also ask more basic questions like ‘What’s your favorite color?’ or ‘Do you like sushi? Your sushi backpack is so cute.’”

Sarah says these conversations encourage students to share about their lives and how to carry on two-way discussions.

“I always try to use real life examples that I know a particular child is interested in, like games, animals or food,” Sarah says. “I also make sure to direct the conversation back to homework, emphasizing that finishing assignments will mean a sense of accomplishment along with much more playtime at KidWorks and when they get home.”

Daisy Rojas, our Program Enrichment Lead, says, “Sarah really builds rapport with students. She’s very calm and sets a great example for students who have a higher energy. She’s also a great help with homework support.”

Adds Daisy, “Sarah always provides words of encouragement. She has a positive attitude and students remain focused throughout their time with her.”

In addition to her help in the classroom, Sarah teaches dance workshops through KidWorks University.  These workshops help students discover their own passions and talents through participation in art, science, music, dance, creative writing and more.

Sarah taught jazz and dance workshops this past summer for KidWorks students in grades third through fifth.

“I love to dance and am involved in my high school dance program,” Sarah says. “Incorporating dance into my volunteer work helps spread an appreciation for this art form.”

She adds, “I’ve been doing ballet since I was six years old and I started learning contemporary dance and jazz over the past four years. In March, I taught my peers my own choreographed routine, which we performed at my school’s student choreography show; we had so much fun.”

Currently, Sarah is practicing the lyra, a circular steel hoop, for an upcoming school dance performance.

Sarah knows that what she loves about dance also brings joy to KidWorks students.

“Because dance has so many different styles, you can convey different emotions and messages,” she says. “Dance is also a non-spoken form of art that requires you to move to the music and create visual pictures with your body, whether that’s the pretty lines of a ballerina or the freer/improvised forms of a contemporary dancer.”

Sarah plans on teaching dance once again during our summer 2023 programs.

Our October honoree is a seasoned volunteer. She’s tutored kindergarten and first graders during her school district’s summer programs.

“I’ve also volunteered monthly in my community, including helping with set-up for local holiday events and carnivals and watching kids during winter break at community centers,” she says.

When not volunteering or working towards her high school diploma, Sarah enjoys cooking, especially pastas, seafood and soups. She’s also adept at embroidery, knitting and sewing.

Looking ahead to her professional life, Sarah says she’s interested in computer science.

“Though I just recently started exploring computer science at school, I am very intrigued and it is the first difficult class that I’ve been able to enjoy,” she says.

As a student herself, it’s clear why she so easily relates to our own students. We are so grateful for Sarah’s special gift of inspiring academic achievement and the love of music/dance within our students.

By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer