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OCCTAC News - March 2022

Thank You Pacific Life!

Pictured L-R: Carlos Beltran, Nadine Levin (Pacific Life), Zell Barry (Pacific Life), Mark Dimalanta

Photo courtesy of Mark Dimalanta

Thank you Pacific Life Charity Committee and Foundation for donating $18,991 to support our programs! Pacific Life’s Charity committee, consisting of 18 volunteers, created a series of fundraisers last fall and winter benefitting OCCTAC. (Readers may remember the Fall 2021 series of food fundraisers at The Stand restaurant of Irvine, Chipotle, and Sees Candies, all organized by Pacific Life.) We recently had a meeting with Zell Barry and Nadine Levin of Pacific Life where they revealed the total amount raised for OCCTAC: a substantial amount of donated art supplies + $9,491.54 raised through fundraisers + $9,500 donated by Pacific Life, for a grand total of over $18,991!

Pacific Life Volunteer Committee member, Marsha Barron, says this about volunteering for Pacific Life on behalf of OCCTAC: “I grew up in Santa Ana not too far from OCCTAC (down the street actually)! The arts have always been a big part of my life. Since I was a young child, my goal was to become an artist. I was lucky enough to have tons of opportunities to make that happen for me. I participated in various art contests and art shows as a kid, and Downtown Santa Ana Art Walk was something I attended regularly. I know that is not the case for everyone especially in my hometown, where a lot of lower income families live. Oftentimes the arts are not prioritized in public schools and sadly sometimes art programs are cut entirely from children’s school curriculums. When I found OCCTAC in a recent impromptu google search of art programs in Santa Ana, I thought it was the perfect way to give back and to raise awareness for what this organization does in Orange County for the youth. The arts are an important part of childhood, and I truly believe that they should be accessible to everyone. All kids should have the opportunity to express themselves creatively and discover their inherent gifts.”

Thanks to the generosity of Pacific Life, we are now able to purchase a long-needed recording studio for our students to utilize at the center! This state-of-the-art recording studio will be dedicated to Pacific Life Foundation when it arrives at OCCTAC. We greatly appreciate the time and resources devoted to fundraising on OCCTAC’s behalf. These efforts will go a long way toward reaching students who are underserved in our community. Thank you, Pacific Life partners! You are a tremendous blessing to our students and an inspiration to our staff!


Thank You Alex Simonian!

Please meet Alex Simonian, who’s a 16-year-old junior at Brentwood High School that recently started his nonprofit, “I decided to put this organization together because music has always been a comfort and outlet for me, and I am very interested in helping others through music. In addition, I realized that in my local community there are so many instruments still in great condition that are no longer being used and often sit in a corner or in the garage. I knew that these instruments could be repurposed and redistributed to help so many children who might not have access to musical equipment yet could take great joy and comfort in playing music. Thus, I started my cause, Music To Thrive.”

Music Coordinator Phoebe Stanciell noted, “Every so often our children become our best teachers. They give us hope for the future and sometimes their visions surpass our expectations. Music to Thrive is a great example of just that.” When we asked him about his goals for Music To Thrive, Alex explained, “I'm currently working with my school and others to start collecting instruments. I'm really focused on spreading the word about my cause because I know that many people in my community have instruments that they no longer use. Next year, I would also love to make this a fulltime service club at my school and hopefully have some of my friends start chapters at other schools. My goal for these clubs would be to be able to collaborate with schools whose music programs are sometimes understaffed or underfunded. I'm really looking forward to growing my cause to help as many people as I can. Music has always been so relaxing and therapeutic for me, and I hope that every person that wants to has the ability to access musical equipment.”

Recently, Alex found another recipient to donate to at OCCTAC, Cesar Galvan, who was recently awarded State Honors for the Certificate of Merit Program this year in Violin & Piano. All these years, Cesar has been playing on a small 61 key electronic keyboard & now has this wonderful gift. Alex will also be donating a beautiful acoustic full-size guitar to the guitar department. Thank you, Alex, for your amazing heart. Ms. Phoebe is so grateful to be partnering with you!

Alex Simonian, founder of Music To Thrive


Music Students Receive State Honors

OCCTAC is proud to announce the results of our piano and violin students’ participation in the 2022 MTAC Certificate of Merit evaluations. The Music Teachers’ Association of California® (MTAC) sponsors the music study program Certificate of Merit® (CM). Initiated in 1933, the annual statewide program involves approximately 30,000 students. In 2019, OCCTAC’s piano department’s teachers (and MTAC members) started a long journey of requesting special needs accommodation for some of their students. OCCTAC student Cesar Galvin, who has a congenital limb deformity, has participated in piano CM evaluations since 2019. This year Cesar was able to participate in evaluations for both piano and violin. OCCTAC continues to strive in breaking barriers and negating stigma in the community, and we thank and applaud whole-heartedly quality organizations like this that give our students a chance! OCCTAC is proud of our students and teachers and their dedication to excellence in the arts!

CM State Honors 2022

Instructor: Alex Mascorro, Violín, CM

Cesar Galván CM Level Prep, Violín

Instructor: Hang Le, Piano, CM

Cesar Galván CM Level 1, Piano

Justin Navarette CM Level 2, Piano

Instructor: Michelle Gasworth Violin, Viola ( CM teacher)

Jesús Reyes CM Level 3, Violín

Jairo Méndez CM Level 4, Violín

Roberto Reyes CM Level 4, Viola

Instructor: Phoebe Stanciell, Piano, CM (VP South Coast MTAC Branch)

Arturomiguel Martín CM Level Prep, Piano

Iker Carmona, CM Level 2, Piano

Bella Zarate, CM Level 2, Piano

Ricardo Sanchez, CM Level 4, Piano

Anais Martínez, CM Level 5, Piano

William Do-Trinh, CM Level 6, Piano

Jairo Méndez, CM Level 7, Piano


Healing Arts Class Gives Autistic Student

New Coping Skills

Marco is a smart, curious, and sensitive 9-year-old child with Autism that has been participating in OCCTAC’s Healing Arts classes and Sound Healing sessions. Marco’s mother reported to the Sound Healer, Mixel Ventura, that he was calmer for several days after a session, showed more empathy towards his younger brother, and was better able to regulate his emotions. After several more sessions, Marco’s teachers reported that he was able to be guided more easily to a calm state by repeating the intention taught during a sound healing session: “I am calm”. Moreover, he has replicated this tool with others by sharing this technique with classmates by repeating “I am calm” several times with his classmates. Marco’s mother says that her son is internalizing the knowledge of his own ability to calm himself down when needed. During several sound healing sessions, Marco has been able to fall asleep on his own without the use of any medications (he usually requires melatonin to fall asleep). We are happy that Marco discovered a new therapeutic arts intervention that can help him!

Sound Healer, Mixel Ventura, with class at OCCTAC


Saturday, April 2




Preparatory Arts Academy 2022


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


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You Can Help OCCTAC Today!

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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