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Ocbj Wooden Floor

Ocbj Wooden Floor

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Published by SherriLCruz

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Published by: SherriLCruz on Feb 01, 2013
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02/01/2013

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Dance Dance Revolution Nonprofit Turns Poor Kids into CoedsSHERRI CRUZMonday, November 9, 2009It was 20 years ago when Richard Hunsaker’s wife, Virginia,dragged him to the ballet.The ballet?“I don’t think so,” he told his wife.Hunsaker, president of Irvine-based real estate management anddevelopment company Hunsaker Management Inc., admittedlyisn’t a dance person.But in the past 20 years he’s become an avid backer of a SantaAna after-school dance program for needy kids known as TheWooden Floor, formerly Saint Joseph Ballet.“I subsequently found out it was more than just a ballet,”Hunsaker said.Most of the 400 kids in Wooden Floor’s program are Hispanic.Many have immigrant parents. Their homes typically have fivefamily members with an annual household income of about$30,000.Professional choreographers teach the kids to dance. They perform annually at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. But it’s aboutmore than dance—the goal is to teach kids life skills such as poise and self-esteem.
 
“They learn they can do things,” Hunsaker said.The kids also get tutoring, college preparation and familycounseling if needed.The group began 26 years ago with the humble goal of keepingkids off the streets and away from drugs, violence and teen pregnancy.It now seeks to usher kids into college.A Wooden Floor staffer works with students and families oncollege applications, including test preparation and filing for financial aid.Since 1998, all of the group’s students have graduated highschool. Since 2005, all high school seniors have enrolled incollege. The most recent graduating class had 21 seniors, all of whom went off to college.The students often are the first ones in their families to go tocollege.Some of the schools the kids attend include the University of California, Berkeley, Wellesley College in Massachusetts,Boston College, New York University, Chapman University inOrange and Concordia University in Irvine.Wooden Floor helps pay for their tuition with $4,000 to $10,000in scholarships. Chapman and Concordia also offer money to
 
kids in the program.Hunsaker set up a scholarship for graduating high schoolers whoattend his alma mater, the University of Redlands.Like the Hunsakers, several of the board members have long-term ties to the group.“Many are pillars of the organization,” said Melanie Rios Glaser,Wooden Floor’s executive and artistic director.The board has helped define and grow the group, she said.Wooden Floor has the support of several husband and wifeteams, with either one or both spouses serving on the board.They include Catherine MacIver, senior vice president of Bank of America Insurance Services Group, and her husband, JimSlaughter, a lawyer with Newport Beach’s Slaughter & Slaughter LLP.Hunsaker’s wife also is a board member. She helped start atutoring program.Many board members have been with the group long enough toknow founder Beth Burns.Burns, a former nun with a love of dance, opened a small studiocalled Saint Joseph Ballet 26 years ago in Santa Ana’s FiestaMarketplace on Fourth Street, where kids came to dance and gethelp with homework.

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