Rising to the Challenge - Staff Member Xiomara Orozco

July 29 2020

StandUp for Kids - Orange County

The COVID-19 pandemic is constantly evolving, with cases on the rise. We are surrounded by uncertainty when it comes to a vaccine, changing safety recommendations, and what our new “normal” will look like. During this unstable time, one constant the StandUp for Kids’ youth can depend on is Xiomara Orozco’s dedication to them and her job.

Xiamora (right) awarding a youth for their completion of the 2019 Summer Entrepreneur Program

Xiomara has been with StandUp for Kids since May 2019 as the Anaheim Outreach Center Coordinator. She came across the job listing after previously working at an elementary school and a community center for low-income Hispanic families. For three hours after school Xiomara gives 12-18-year-old youths a safe environment where they are given a meal and get homework help and mentoring.


Disneyland Field Trip for StandUp for Kids' STEM Program in January 2020

In May 2020 Xiomara was promoted to Programs Supervisor. In response to the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, StandUp for Kids introduced several new programs to adapt. The first program was the e-tutoring program and ran for the duration of the school year. This program assigned each youth a tutor, allowing them to get one-on-one attention from a volunteer. 

“When the kids had to transition to online learning a lot of them were having a hard time with it, which is one of these reasons we started the e-tutoring program. Parents were reaching out to us and asking if we were able to provide homework help online to make the transition easier.”

Similar to e-tutoring, an e-mentoring program was also introduced. Xiomara hosts virtual weekly meetings for youth to check in on each other, play games, and give each other Netflix and book recommendations, all while continuing to build relationships with kids and volunteers virtually.

The last program – introduced to offset COVID-19 hardships associated with job loss – is the ‘We Deliver’ program. The program has two parts: one is grocery and hygiene kit deliveries, and the other is providing pre-cooked meals three times a week.

“To know what some of these families have gone through and then to add COVID-19 on top of that is difficult to watch. I had a mom ask me if we were going to be able to provide homework help because she is unable to help her kid herself because of the language barrier. That hit home for me, having a parent feel helpless. That is why we always try our best to provide the support that they need.”

The adjustment to this all-online environment hasn't been easy on anyone, Xiomara included. Her week previously consisted of commuting to different sites, hands-on work at the center, and face-to-face interaction with youth. Now her week takes place completely within the walls of her dining room. Xiomara is no longer commuting, hasn't been to the center since it closed, and all communication with her coworkers and youth are virtual. Xiomara suffers from scoliosis, which makes sitting down on her computer for long periods painful. This, in addition to the absence of in-person interaction, is Xiomara’s biggest challenge while working virtually. Despite the environment change, Xiomara has been successful in doing her job from home. She has learned to adapt to her situation, find solutions quickly, and sharpen her technology skills.


Xiomara delivering a Turkey Box Thanksgiving dinner to a youth

Xiomara has adapted to her new workday, but that doesn't eliminate the uncertainty associated with programming resuming at the start of the school year. But no matter what social distancing system schools adopt, Xiomara is confident the kids will be successful regardless because they have a strong support system of tutors and volunteers that are excited for them to return. 

If you would like to join the StandUp for Kids family as a volunteer or donor please reach out at orangecounty@standupforkids.org.

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