Altrusa International of Fond du Lac, WI has been committed to the healthy development of families and children throughout the Fond du Lac county communities. Altrusa’s contributions have furthered our educational mission and helped us bridge disparities in children’s books available. The Family Resource Center (FRC) has been to supply our SOAR program with motor and cognitive activities that help children build on the skills that underlie and support literacy, while also working on reading, writing, and speech. These activities are integral to children’s strong educational foundation when they start school. Additionally, the FRC was able to purchase high quality books as well as Spanish children books for our families.
This March the Interim Executive Director, Kaniala Aragon, was the speaker at Altrusa’s March 2023 meeting. Kaniala shared his journey from Manoa Valley, Hawaii to his time at Marian University, and the evolution of the Family Resource Center. After speaking, Kaniala was presented with Altrusa’s contribution of $750 from the Fond du Lac Altrusa’s President Barb Zink.
The Family Resource Center (FRC) was presented with the 2022 Community Service Organization Award by The Arc Fond du Lac. The Arc comes to the Family Resource Center to volunteer. Integral to the success of the services we provide is the helping hands that provide it. Through our partnership with Arc we have been able to increase the amount helping hands serving families and children in the Fond du Lac Community. A partnership that has provided perspective-building experiences through volunteer work. Present at the award banquet was Kimberly Oreck, former Executive Director and now consultant for the FRC, and Kaniala Aragon, Interim Executive Director.
Kaniala Aragon, a four year employee, just graduated this December from Marian University with his Bachelors of Science. Kaniala also known as Kani, had first volunteered with the Family Resource Center (FRC) in 2018 as freshman helping with respite care. Kaniala joined the staff in 2019 as a visitation supervisor, supervising visitation between children and their families. His role would evolve over the years as he would continue to take on more responsibilites for the organization. Kaniala would help out in the distribution center, oversee respite care, and fill in as receptionist when needed. In the summer of 2021, he took a more direct role, expanding the infrastructure and capabilites of the FRC. He developed the FRC’s data and analytics, enabling our organization to track demographics, the amount of aid distributed through the distribution center, and additional data gathered from a varitey of our services. That summer he also began writing grants for organization and helped the FRC to bring in more than $25,000 in grant money bolstering our parent education and distribution programs. Kaniala has also served to provide opportunities for others to volunteer at the FRC by organizing and providing volunteer opportunities through his connections at Marian University and as a club organization leader.
Kaniala was able to forward the mission of the FRC, while accomplishing an incredible amount of things outside of the organization. While working part-time at the FRC, he also works at a nursing home as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) during the summers and for the Green Bay Packers in game operations during the season. As a full-time student at Marian University, he led the Campus Ministry Club as President for two years, organized and led a mission trip to a Navajo reservation, and accumlated over 650 hours of community service through his college career. In the same semester he organized a mission trip across the country, Kaniala set out to address a need within the Fond du Lac community for a volunteer resource. He recognized the difficulty he had upon coming to Marian to identify and compare volunteer opportunities and organizations. Kaniala reached out to and sat down with over 20 organizations from hospitals to non-profits and learned about the volunteer opportunities available. He then organized the volunteer opportunities into a document called the Stand Out Sabre page, which also contained information about the organizations, volunteer requirements, and how to apply. The Stand Out Sabre page would then be translated into a web page on the Marian University’s website, which Kaniala held the responsibility of updating the page and adding one-time volunteer opportunities. Later that semester, he was awarded the Program of the Year by Marian University for founding the page. With much experience under his belt, he was selected by the university to be the Class Commencement Speaker at the 2022 Winter Commencement Ceremony. He delivered a speech to his peers about self-reflection and finding the time to learn from your experiences. Kaniala graduates with 4.0 GPA and plans to apply to medical school where he will pursue his aspirations of becoming a physician.
“Honestly, working here at the FRC has profoundly changed my views and some of the assumptions I had. As a freshman in college, I was niave in my own thinking and this place has certainly helped me mature. I have been so fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to the struggles of parents and play a role in helping them and their children. When I help families, I think of my own. Back when we lived in Hawaii, we lived in poverty. Coming to Wisconsin, were intially homeless and then I watched my parents work their way out of poverty to provide for me and my brother. The assistance they got, set them up for success, enabling my own success. But to see and look into eyes of a child who has been through so much trauma or to listen to a crying single mother about the struggles of raising children in poverty is sobering. Working here has given me so much perspective that has been invaulable to me. A perspective on poverty and social issues that I will take with me as a physician.”