MVCC club makes season brighter for local children
While the pandemic made this fall a challenging one for student organizations, Kidz N’ Coaches — the mentoring club at MVCC — was able to deliver some joy to local children and their families this holiday season.
For 37 years, Kidz N’ Coaches has given MVCC students the unique opportunity to volunteer as mentors and provide positive experiences for kids in the community. In addition to serving as mentors, club members plan activities and events throughout the year, like bowling, a visit to the pumpkin patch, and the highly anticipated holiday party, with a full spread of food, decorated tree, gifts for the kids, and a visit from Santa.
This year, however, in-person meetings between students and mentees were not allowed, and all group activities were canceled. The club had to innovate — instead of bringing the kids to the pumpkin patch, the club brought the pumpkins to the kids in October. They delivered pies to local families for Thanksgiving. But in December, there was no party to plan. There was no tree to decorate.
But the kids still had wish lists, so Kidz N’ Coaches got to work.
Club member Josephine Ochoa, along with advisors Associate Professor Rich Kelly and Assistant Professor Dina Radeljas, were able to gather wish lists and plan a socially distanced shopping trip. The gifts were then wrapped and delivered, ensuring that 60 kids will get a gift for the holiday, thanks to Kidz N’ Coaches.
“It’s an honor to be part of a club that values spreading love, joy, and giving back so much,” said Josephine, a Criminal Justice major who is graduating Dec. 17, 2020. “The best thing you can do for the next generation is be a great role model, and that’s an opportunity Kidz N’ Coaches gave me. It reminds me to stay humble, and no matter where I am in life, to never forget where I started.”
Kidz N’ Coaches was started in 1983 by Professor Emeritus Jim Smrtic, who taught psychology at MVCC for 40 years before retiring in 2014. He started the club for concerned college students who wanted to work with children. The Kidz N’ Coaches model didn’t just pair a student with a child. Instead, it was designed to have college students work as a group to mentor young children from the housing complex near the campus. Smrtic’s ground-breaking program is the longest-running club at MVCC.