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OCCTAC News - August 2021

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

Thank You To Our Donor Impact Giving

Impact Giving is a women’s collective giving organization dedicated to effecting positive social change and transforming lives in our communities, our nation, and around the world. OCCTAC recently received $2,400 from Impact Giving as one of their grant finalists! Each of the 10 finalist organizations received $2,400. Based in Orange County, CA, Impact Giving is made up of over 105 women who have granted 76 grants and distributed $1.4 million to many life-changing grant recipients in just 12 years.

Amy Larson, Impact Giving Board Co-Chair, said, "OCCTAC applied for a grant and made it to our finalist stage. On the evening of our event, we host a raise the paddle to raise money to donate to those finalists that did not receive a grant from us. It’s not a lot of money but it’s our small way of supporting the wonderful work of those organizations that rose to the top and are near and dear to our Partners hearts."

Mil gracias Impact Giving collective for your beautiful, generous hearts!


"Summer Extravaganza" A Success With

St. Peter's H.I.V.E. Program

OCCTAC had the recent privilege recent of joining our community partner, St. Peter Lutheran Church, for three weeks of arts instruction at their H.I.V.E. Program Summer Extravaganza. OCCTAC instructors brought dance, media arts, music, and painting to the program this year. St. Peter’s H.I.V.E. Program ministers to the whole family in the Willard community of Santa Ana, serving approximately 35 students and their families. Students K-12 can participate in the Summer Extravaganza and after-school programs, and families have been served during the pandemic with food supplies, protective equipment, hygiene supplies and other support.

We recently spoke with St. Peter’s H.I.V.E. Program Director, Laura Caraccio, about the program and OCCTAC’s collaboration with them. “Back pre-pandemic”, said Ms. Caraccio, “I met with Carlos Beltran (OCCTAC’S Director of Arts Education), and we started an in-person program with one of your painting instructors. But then the pandemic hit and though we tried to go remote, it was just too much for the kids. So, we kind of took a break with the thought that we would resume after all this was over. The H.I.V.E. group stopped seeing each other on March 13, 2020, and we counted down the 502 days until we were together again. July 26, 2021 was the day we finally got to see each other again in a large group at our Summer Extravaganza. It was extremely exciting to gather after 502 days, and OCCTAC was right there! The timing of all this was perfect. We called this a Summer Extravaganza, but I didn’t realize it really was going to be an extravaganza, and that was because of OCCTAC.”

“I think that on the heels of this pandemic it could not have been timelier and more beautiful after having been bottled up in place for over a year,” said Ms. Caraccio. “For all of us, this experience of sheltering in place was hard, but for children it was magnified because they couldn’t play and see their friends and know a teacher face-to-face. I saw a lot of them struggle with motivation to learn, depression, and weight gain, so now this emergence was like butterflies from the cocoon. It was such a lovely experience, and I’m grateful to the OCCTAC teachers. Because what they gave to these children, coming out of a year and a half lockdown, it was therapeutic. I’ve been reflecting on the ‘T’ in OCCTAC, and I get it. I get how all of this is therapeutic. It’s much more of creating a space for what is within the child to come out. And I felt that. I couldn’t have articulated that without walking around and observing and seeing how it was so different. It was about defining spaces for the children and giving them a place to exercise their voice.”


Spotlight On OCCTAC Intern

Olivia Wilhite

(Pictured here: OCCTAC student Daniel Angel, Teaching Artist Dianna Najar, and OCCTAC intern Olivia Wilhite)

As part of OCCTAC’s commitment to developing the educational experiences of young people in our community, we have the pleasure of welcoming a variety of college interns to our center each year. One such intern, Olivia Wilhite, sat down with us recently and described her experience this summer as an on-site OCCTAC intern:

“At Biola University, it is a requirement of the psychology department to have an internship before graduating. I didn’t know what setting that would be in or what age group I would work with, but I honestly prayed about it. God showed me this place! I really loved working with each age group for different reasons. One student in the Therapeutic Art class really impressed me. She was older than me, and she was nonverbal. It was so interesting because we were able to have a conversation the whole time just through sign language and pointing and expressions. This was so fascinating, because I forget that you can have a whole conversation with someone without words.”

Teaching artist and OCCTAC instructor Dianna Najar worked with Olivia in her Therapeutic Arts class and had these observations of her work, “I work with students with unique abilities, and she was very attentive to each students’ individual needs. Olivia has great potential because she is very approachable and hands on.”

Thank you to Olivia and all our amazing interns from Summer 2021 for supporting our mission of providing innovative, artistic, educational, and therapeutic programs that inspire and transform children, at-promise youth, and their families to fulfill their highest potential.


Oye Como Va Premiere!

Join us at the public premiere of OCCTAC’s multidisciplinary summer music video, Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va!” All dance, music, artwork, vocals, filming and editing performed by OCCTAC students, participants, and instructors. This project was made possible by a grant from Cal Arts Council.

Our Prep Arts Students, EISOA Older Adults and instructors worked hard this past year to make this project possible. The majority of classes were via remote learning. Our students and participants took their passion for the arts to the next level by spending extra time to rehearse each scene not only online but in person to make sure the choreography for this music video flowed flawlessly during production. Big thanks to @calartscouncil for helping make this happen!

OCCTAC has shifted to creating a project-based learning experience. The “Oye Como Va” music video is an example of how OCCTAC plans on enhancing students’ involvement while they learn their discipline of choice.


Join Us At The 20th Annual

Festival of Children!


Upcoming Events & Workshops


Community Wellness & Emotional Support

September Workshops


Preparatory Arts Academy 2021

Fall Registration

Classes for our amazing Preparatory Arts Academy are open for registration now! Studio Arts, Dance, Music, Media Arts and more! Call us or visit our website for more information on how your students can be part of the OCCTAC dream!

OCCTAC: 714.547.5468




OCCTAC’s Youth Employment Program is accepting applications! Santa Ana youth between the ages of 16-24 years old interested in gaining paid work experience, job training, and educational assistance are welcome to apply. For more information about the program and requirements please call the OCCTAC at (714)547-5468 and ask to speak with a Youth Employment Program staff member. Meetings are currently taking place by appointment only.


Need A Vaccine?




Become a Donor

Did you know that when you donate, you are improving your own health as well? A study by the University of Oregon found that donating activates the pleasure center in your brain. Voluntary donations are especially pleasurable and improve your happiness, joy, and contentment! OCCTAC is forever grateful to our Supporters and Community Partners! Their donations and support continue to help our Arts Center grow and bring opportunities to our families and community, and you can be part of this as well!

Please help OCCTAC by sharing our Social Media links, liking our page, sharing our events and donating to our center! Find out how by clicking on the link below:

Donate with Amazon Smile!

You can help OCCTAC today by donating money, choosing to donate on a recurring basis, or by designating “Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center” as your charity when purchasing through Amazon via their Amazon Smile program at Here are the simple steps to designate OCCTAC as your charitable organization to receive a portion of the purchase price:

  1. On your first visit to AmazonSmile, you need to select “Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts” to receive donations from eligible purchases before you begin shopping. Amazon will remember your selection, and then every eligible purchase you make at will result in a donation.

  2. If you already use Amazon Smile for another charity, you can change your charity to "Orange County Therapeutic Arts" on your Amazon Smile home page. ​

We appreciate you and your continued support of OCCTAC’s mission to provide innovative, artistic, educational and therapeutic programs that inspire and transform children, at-risk youth, adults and their families to fulfill their highest potential.

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