Quarterly Director’s Letter
I am writing this on the very last night of the fiscal year. What a year we’ve had! We should be very proud of all the good work we’ve done. There are so many lessons learned and so much to talk about, but I would like to take a moment to go back to the basics.
Our organizational value is respect—respect for the people we serve and respect for the people we work with. We often talk about this in staff retreats. We have announced it, operationalized it and reminded each other about it, but what is at the core of respect? What does it mean to you? As I look around at examples of respectful exchanges between colleagues and respectful acts toward our clients, I find that the foundation of respect is kindness and humility. When we are able to put our egos aside, put others first, see the humanity and dignity of those we serve, we are aligning our individual efforts to achieve our organizational mission.
We do a great job respecting and serving the community, but I think we can do an even better job being kind and supportive to each other. Nonprofit work is incredibly difficult and draining and it’s easy to slip into cynicism and burnout. Many of us are coming into work with the weight of personal and family struggles on our shoulders. I encourage us to, first, be kind to ourselves, take care of ourselves and work on ourselves, so that we can have the emotional reserves to extend respect and appreciation to our supervisees, colleagues and supervisors.
As the new fiscal year begins, I am excited for the new successes, challenges and lessons that we’ll face together. I hope that we continue to take time to reflect on how we can do our very best to show respect to each other and the people we serve.
– Nayon Kang
PE put on an Amazing All Staff.
Buy your KYCC 15th Annual Benefit Concert Ticket Today!
July is here, which also means KYCC is bringing back our annual summer event! We are excited to partner with the Korean American Music Foundation, the Korean American Women’s Association and Kollaboration for a night of amazing talent and music at our 15th Annual Benefit Concert at The Music Center’s Walt Disney Concert Hall on Friday, July 29, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Mental Health Awareness through Art for Young Immigrant Mothers
This spring, more than 30 young mothers in their 30s and 40s participated in KYCC Clinical Services’ “Healing Seminar,” an event to raise awareness about mental health conditions. Participants used art to express their emotions and struggles as young mothers and immigrants. Participants also heard testimonies from current clients in KYCC’s mental health services programs.
Kids Town Introduces Language Acquisition Curriculum
On a mid-May morning, KYCC’s Kids Town teacher Hisu Chung drew a clown beetle with a big black marker for her rapt preschool classroom. “Good morning, Ecologists!” she called out to the students, as she wrote down the names of the beetle’s body parts. Down the hall, Assistant Teacher Alondra Meza is making hand gestures, imitating the tunneling of a gopher. This schoolwide lesson on “Soil Dwellers,” includes pictorials, comparisons, gestures and songs rich in vocabulary and information for the pre-K set.
KYCC Coaches Fairfax High School Parents on Emotions
KYCC’s Clinical Services partnered this spring with Fairfax High School’s Parent Center and the Korean Integrated Service Management (KISM) to host two seminars, “Anger Management” and “Emotion Coaching,” at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. The seminar was held by three KYCC clinicians to outreach to parents in the community.
Marianet Tirado Escareno
Prevention Education – Community Organizer
Marianet Tirado joined KYCC as a Community Organizer for Prevention Education. Prior to working with KYCC, Marianet was a Parent Coordinator for Youth Policy Institute at Vista Charter Middle School. At Vista, she worked closely with KYCC to help pioneer the Prevention Community Council, Manos Unidas. As a parent coordinator she taught parents through workshops and class series such as English, computer and cooking classes. In the past, Marianet has also done advocacy work with CHIRLA (Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles), California Dream Network, and American Federation of Teachers. Activist, educator, theater enthusiast and animal lover are the best terms to describe her. Marianet is very excited to join the KYCC family and looks forward to work with families to improve the safety of our communities.
Kids Town – Director
K. has over eight years experience in managing education programs, and 16 years in the child development field. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix, Associates of Arts in Early Childhood Studies, and a Masters of Science in Human Services.
She has worked with various programs supervising 10-100 employees. As a director she has experience in staff management and recruitment, budgeting, conducting monthly staff meetings, planning staff development trainings, implementing policies and procedures, and creating quality programs.
Environmental Services – Community Engagement Specialist
Will Levegood comes from Azusa Pacific University with a double major in Global Studies and Economics. He has worked for LIFT (not the cars with pink mustaches) for nearly two years helping Koreatown, South L.A., Pico-Union, and Westlake community members find housing, employment, healthcare, legal aid, and education, as well as providing financial coaching and VITA tax help. Will has been living in Koreatown for nearly two years and his love for topokki only continues to grow. He is extremely passionate about urban planning and seeks to learn more about creating safe and healthy spaces for low-income families affected by environmental issues. His spirit animal is a beluga whale. He is stoked to meet everyone and get more involved in the K-Town community!
Admin – Human Resources Manager
Glesteree Blades aka “G” has been a Human Resource professional for over 20 years, working for a variety of nonprofits which include AADAP, Inc., Chinatown Service Center, South Bay Family Healthcare Center, and most recently Child & Family Center.
Her greatest professional accomplishment is developing a number of staff into better leaders.
Ms. Blades, “G” has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. She is a mother of four children and is a diehard Oakland Raiders fan.
This is my farewell email to all that I have two more days left to say goodbye to KYCC. It’s been a great seven years at Kids Town as a teacher. Actually it’s a total of nine years with KYCC.
I found KYCC randomly from the newspaper and married for this long. I was very excited at first that I could have an opportunity to work for the community and still makes me proud that I was part of it.
All the staff retreats and gatherings are awesome memories to my life. I learned so much not only as a preschool teacher but as a part of the employee of the organization.
You can always email me to firstname.lastname@example.org to have a coffee or lunch. Lol~
Thank you all and good bye~
Kids Town – Assistant Instructor
Please Tell Me About Yourself
I’ve been working here for three-and-a-half years. My favorite food is seafood, so I’m really good at cooking seafood—especially shrimp and crab. I love to invite people to my house. Last Sunday, I had almost 50 people come and we had a really good time. There was barbeque and shrimp. I have a really special spicy shrimp recipe. I love to watch opera—that’s one of my favorite music genres.
Can you share with us something most people don’t know about you?
I can read music notes, but I cannot play the piano. I’ve learned piano for six years, but I cannot play piano. But if you played a random note on the piano, I can distinguish which note it is. I can notice the pitch. I like to sing. People say my voice is good.
Also, my hobby is oil painting. I especially like to paint portraits. I have my own, small painting studio. It used to be a garage. When I was younger, I loved painting. I wanted to major in painting, but my dad forbid it and pushed me to become a teacher. I love being a teacher though—I’ve been teaching kids for a long time.
What inspires you to do the work you do at Kids Town and Menlo?
I love staff trainings. I learn so many things here at KYCC, especially through the trainings. I was so inspired by how JohngHo treats all the staff so gently and nicely. Usually Koreans in high positions are authoritative, but he’s not like that at all. When he introduces what KYCC has done, I find myself being so proud of working in KYCC.
I worked at Kids Town first as a substitute teacher. Then Lisa recommended me to work at Menlo part-time. After a while, there was a part-time position that opened in Kids Town.
What do you love the most about your job?
Teaching. I love just playing with the kids. Through playing, the kids can learn so many things. I intentionally play with the kids – there’s a purpose behind it all. All the conversations I have is not just a conversation, but I would like to deliver some kind of message through it. It might sound like a casual conversation, but I intentionally try to bring in educational components to it as well.
What is your fondest memory to date of your time at KYCC?
I cannot forget the time when Lisa encouraged me. The first time I ever worked at Kids Town, it was not easy. It was hard for me to mingle with the other staff. For me, I felt that there was a huge barrier, so I was kind of struggling to adjust into this new environment. I never really shared about my difficulties, because I believed that I needed to take time to get to know each other and learn the policies, curriculum, and educational goals within Kids Town. Also, I have a lot of experience teaching kids. Since I was 16, I was involved with kids, and as soon as I graduated college, I have been teaching kids in various different environments. I tried to bring my experience into Kids Town, but I realized that Kids Town had a very different approach. I was still struggling in my heart. At that time, Lisa encouraged me a lot. She just said, “Teacher Sung, because of you, Kids Town is so great!” I didn’t think that I contributed too much to Kids Town, but she would go, “Great job, Teacher Sung, great job!” She always said that, so it brought me confidence and allowed me to relax. It was great encouragement from her. I struggled for six months, and during that time, Lisa has been such a good support. Now it’s been over three years, and I love the staff, the kids, and the classroom.
At Menlo, seeing the big improvement in the children in regards to academics and even social behavior has been very rewarding to see. At Menlo, there a some kids who are behind and are repeating the same grade. Some of the kids came here without knowing anything – even alphabet and counting numbers. This second grade girl couldn’t read the book. So I was with her, teaching her how to read, reading the same book over and over again. After four months, she could read! One day, one of the moms tearfully expressed her appreciation and gratitude because her daughter was able to read the book. There’s another girl who couldn’t read – she cried whenever she was asked to read. But now, she reads with confidence, and even asks to read herself! I have a heart for these kids, and want them to be in a living environment where they will be able to set their vision.
Where do you imagine yourself to be 10 years from now?
I hope I can still have time with the kids after 10 years. I don’t want any top positions or be promoted. I already had that experience before. I just want to enjoy my time with the kids, and share and give what I have to the kids. I want to keep on working if I can.
Do you consider KYCC a special place if so, why?
Yes, of course. I think KYCC is helpful to the community – especially various groups of people coming from different socioeconomic backgrounds and to those who are left out of society. KYCC serves all the generation – from kids to elderly. KYCC is there for those that need help. Personally, I have the same spirit as KYCC and I am fulfilled working under KYCC because our values align.
Where is your hometown?
My hometown is in North Gyeongsang Province in Korea. I grew up there for 10 years, then my parents sent me to Seoul where I had my education. I came to the states around 1998 – around 18 years.
What is your relationship with Koreatown? (If you live here/work here, what do you do here?)
My church is in Koreatown. It’s a fairly small church called Dulos Church. And I work here. I live in Altadena.
What are your thoughts on Koreatown?
The image that comes up to my head is: drifting. And suffering. It’s busy – no relaxation. Because all of the parents are really busy, and they cannot take care of their own kids. They have to send the kids to some center or afterschool programs because they have no time. It feels as though there’s no room for relaxation – so drifting comes into mind.
Where is your favorite place in Koreatown…and why?
My favorite place is Menlo and Kids Town! The restaurant I like to go to is Arado – it’s a sushi restaurant on Wilshire and Wilton.
What is the purpose/vision of SDC?
The purpose is to have all participants – from Kindergarten all the way to 12th graders – to have somewhere to go over the summer. For the older kids in high school and middle school, they don’t know what to do over the summer, and end up wasting it. We want to prevent the youth from the bad, so we have this volunteering opportunity for the older kids. For the younger kids, we have a lot of families with parents who both work, and there is a high need for child care. We realize a bunch of afterschool and summer programs in Koreatown are focused on worksheets, worksheets, worksheets and not on social and emotional development of the kids. We’re not only focused on academics, but also enrichment in the kid’s lives.
We want the kids to be happy and want to come back the next SDC. We want our program to be worth it for the kids. We have a bunch of kids who come back. In fifth grade, we have a girl named Yein. She’s been here since Kindergarten, so this is her sixth year coming back. We have siblings who come together. There are kids here who I also taught in Kindergarten two years ago.
Tell me the basics of Summer Day Camp (a “typical” day).
There are 83 elementary school kids, and around 60~70 high school and middle school kids with seven adults. Teachers come in 30 minutes before the kids are dropped off. At the start, we have community time, where all the kids go into the classroom and play a game with the volunteers and teachers. It could be a simple bingo game, breathing exercise, reading, or even a check-in icebreaker question like, “How was your weekend?” After there’s academic time: math, reading, writing, English. Two days out of the week, there are special activities: science, art, history, dance, or anything the teacher feels comfortable teaching. We receive lunch from Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. After lunch, we walk to Lafayette Park and library everyday. We have snack time and open class, where kids can play board games and such. We finish up with silent reading time or wrapping up whatever academics that needs to be finished for that day.
Why the theme Summer with Roald Dahl? How does SDC incorporate the theme?
We always have a summer theme – last year it was “Summer with Wizard of Oz”, and the year before was, “Summer with Aesop”. I (Heather Jun) just basically picked whatever I wanted to do. I had just read The Witches by Roald Dahl, so the theme just naturally came to me. Also, I have a sweet tooth, and I thought it would be really fun to end the summer with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and have a big candyland theme. It just brings a lot of my personality to it – the teachers didn’t really have a say in it. We have Esio Trot, James and the Giant Peach, and end the program with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We will watch movies, the older kids will be reading the books, and for the younger kids, their teachers will read to them.
What is the most exciting part about SDC?
It might sound cliché, but I love spending time with the kids. As a lead teacher, I don’t really get to spend time in the classroom. For the past two years, I was a Kinder teacher, so I was in the classroom spending time with kids. But now that I’m pulled out in the office, I don’t have the opportunity to spend time with kids as much as I used to. As a coordinator, I go around each classroom to check in with the teachers and interact with the kids. We have indoor open class after lunch and snack where kids can play board games, and I go play with the kids. Also, I push the volunteers really hard, and I’m really strict with them. But at the end of the day, when we’re cleaning up, I love cracking jokes and making lame comments with them.
What do you look most forward to in the course of 7 ½ weeks?
Well, there’s 6 weeks left. The last week of SDC, we have SDC Olympics, where each class goes against each other in a series of mini-games. For example, memorizing the state capitals, carving shapes out of Korean snacks. Teams can get points and gold medals, but everybody gets a certificate. We have this big summer celebration with a SDC Store with bunch of items. The last week is basically a week of fun. We end with a performance and graduation – each class will be performing and dancing to a song. Katherine from KOA was able to make a script for SDC, and the kids will perform as characters from the three books that we will be reading. Each teacher could pick couple of kids to be in the play, or sometimes we even have auditions. They can act like Willy Wonka, or Charlie Bucket. We invite parents and have the celebration at Garden Suites Hotel. The last day, we have a giant potluck that overflows with food and have our final goodbye. It’s sweet. We have kids who bawl their eyes out on the last day. I look forward to kids crying, because that shows me that they loved it.
Speaking of tears, have there been any tears yet?
Yes. When we started, younger kids who missed their moms cry. But they get over it because they have fun.
What is a common misconception about working in SDC?
Parents and the community think that we don’t do any academics. I don’t know where that idea came from, but couple of parents asked me, “Don’t kids just play at KYCC?” But we have our own school-based curriculum that is set on common core. There is this weird idea floating around that we don’t do any academics. Maybe it’s because for our academic time, we sometimes teach academics disguised as games. For example, to learn improper fractions, the kids have to match top half of an easter egg with a fraction like 2 ½ to a bottom half of the egg that corresponds to it (in this case, the answer would be 5/2). The kids are learning high level math for fourth and fifth grade, but kids are not able to say this at home. For kids, they just think they’re playing a game. This year, teachers are putting in a more conscious effort to have things to have kids to bring home for their parents.
What’s your favorite memory during SDC so far? (ask a kid, a volunteer, and a staff)
Heather Jun (head teacher): We’re not supposed to have physical contact with the kids, but if a kid is running at me with open arms, I’m not going to push them away. When Timothy gets dropped off in the morning from his dad’s white pickup truck, he has this giant smile on and he greets you so brightly and runs to give me the best morning greeting hug. Every morning is amazing because the kids love you unconditionally. “Hi teacher!” And I respond with “Hi child!”
Timothy Lee (kindergartener in second grade squirrels because he’s so brilliant) – “Memory? I don’t know what that means” “What’s your favorite time so far?” “Today. Because we’re doing freeze tag, and I like freeze tag.”
James Suhl (Middle School Volunteer): Playing with the kids – they’re really cute and fun to play with. Right now (at Griffith Park), I’m having fun with the kids.
Yesui Batbaatar (First-time SDC High School Volunteer): I got to meet a lot of kids, and a lot of them are really shy and reserved. I’m shy and reserved also, and when I see kids interact with each other. It’s just fun when you’re surrounded with other volunteers and other kids.
Yein Cho (Fifth grade Scorpions): I like today. It would be a memorable moment at the Griffith Park. I also like going to LaFayette Park everyday. I also like silent reading because it’s really quiet and refreshing after a hot day.
Morgan (Kinder Koalas): I like my lunch because it’s so delicious. There’s chocolate milk, and we had corn dogs before!
If SDC was a dish, what kind of food would it be and why?
Ice cream sundae – it’s a mix of everything.
Who is part of SDC?
David Dominguez (Kinder Koalas)
Lidia Sebastian (First Grade Fish)
Alyssa Costa (Second Grade Squirrels)
Nancy Byun (Third Grade Jaguars)
Marilyn Ufrazio (Fourth and Fifth Grade Scorpions)
Four bodies were discovered after firefighters entered a Westlake district building that had been engulfed in flames
LAPD needs the community’s help in looking for a missing Korean tourist.
Los Angeles businessman and Korean American philanthropist Moo Han Bae is planning a 45-room hotel in Koreatown.
Fried Brazilian pies, get ‘em in Pico-Union!
Halal Guys expect to open in Koreatown in JULY. Check them out at Wilshire & Mariposa.
KYCC Staff’s Favorite Food Spot(light)
234 S Oxford Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004 (3rd & Oxford)
Check out this cute little get away from the hustle and bustle of K-Town. Dine-in, or have coffee with a friend in this garden-like setting.
Submitted by: Carmen Mestas, Prevention Education Unit
Cuisine: Korean/American fusion, desserts, coffee
What do you like about this restaurant?
“The seafood cream spaghetti!! So good!”
Birthdays and KYCC Anniversaries
- July 2 – Jerry Velasquez
- July 5 – Mr Kim
- July 8 – Omar Chavez
- July 12 – Jessica Estrada
- July 18 – Jose Pantoja
- July 18 – Tommy Rendon
- July 1 – 31 years – Johng Ho Song
- July 12 – 12 years – Ana Arvizu
- July 19 – 3 years – Eunice Shin
- July 19 – 9 years – Ashley Kim
- July 30 – 15 years – Anabel Torres
Have some talented and driven friends? Let them know about our open positions.
- Youth – Assistant Instructor
- Prevention – Lead Youth Organizer
- Prevention – Youth Development Specialist
- Prevention – Community Education Specialist
- Environmental – Energy Conservation Trainee
- Clinical – Counselor III
It’s amazing how difficult it is for a man to understand something if he’s paid a small fortune not to understand it. – Jack Bogle