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OCCTAC News - October 2020

OCCTAC's 20 Year Anniversary

OCCTAC is again joining the global Giving Tuesday movement to raise funds to transform the lives of local at-risk children, youth and families and we need your help! Last year you helped us meet our goal to raise $20,000, and this year we have a new goal of $25,000! Our children and families need the ARTS and therapeutic services that we offer now more than ever in this year of uncertainty. Join OCCTAC and become a #GivingTuesday #Superhero!!! Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving back. On the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Dec.1, people around the world will come together to celebrate generosity and make an impact. This year, we want to raise $25,000 to help provide OCCTAC students and families with the arts education and services they deserve. With your help, we can make this a reality!


  • You can log on to our Facebook account and donate, either a one-time donation or monthly recurring donation at

  • You can direct friends and family to our website to learn all about our programs and services as well as our special Giving Tuesday webpage.

  • You can also create your own Giving Tuesday fundraising page for OCCTAC on Facebook, an easy process found by following the "Fundraisers for Charitable Organizations" button found at this link

  • You can donate anytime on our website or call us at (714)547-5468 to inquire about in-kind donations or donations of supplies for our students and families.



On October 8, 2020, the City of Santa Ana-Arts & Culture Office awarded OCCTAC a grant for $21,000 through the City of Santa Ana COVID-19 Arts Relief Program. This funding is part of the CARES Act and the purpose of the funding is to assist artists and arts-related nonprofit organizations within the City of Santa Ana that have been affected by COVID-19.   We thank the City of Santa Ana Arts and Culture office for recommending our agency to this important and much needed funding!

OCCTAC was awarded a $10,000 business support grant on October 22, 2020 by the State Fund COVID19 Safety Fund Committee.  The funds will assist our organization with all the costs associated with COVID19 and essential business expenses that we have incurred to protect our employees and keep them healthy and safe during this pandemic.  We thank State Fund for their generosity, and our friend Jeremy Eynon from Comprehensive Insurance Services for recommending our organization to this wonderful grant opportunity!

On October 23, 2020, Union Bank approved a donation to OCCTAC for $10,000 in support of our Therapeutic Arts & Work Experience for Youth with Disabilities.  We thank Union Bank for supporting the mission of our organization and our wonderful Board member Rossina Gallegos for her continuous support, community leadership and generosity!

Tea Party & Friends

Last February 2020, the dynamic duo of Terri Villa-McDowell and her sister, Anita Roth, planned a second tea fundraiser. The fundraiser was to provide a summer camp for special needs children and youth.  Because of COVID, the tea had to be postponed but by then, $2,000 in ticket sales had been raised!  The $2,000 provided scholarships for all special needs children and youth for all summer activities organized by OCCTAC.  We look forward to holding this beautiful event next year, when it is safe again to congregate together!  We thank Terri’s friends for the kind donations: Gloria and Christina McDonald, Elena McDonald, Linda Rios, Nancy Redd, Karla Tomas, Eric Olson, Mr. & Mrs. Porter, Mr. & Mrs. House, Melody Winter Head, Heather Summers, Michelle England, Maribel Marin, Mayank Aggarwal, Frankie Maryland Alston, Sam Chari, William C. Lee, Kathy L. Villa,  and Donna F. Atallah. Thank you all!


He Is Hitting The Right Keys

Enjoy this beautiful story of one of our participants from the perspective of his teacher, Phoebe Stanciell: “One of the most rewarding roles as a teacher is to witness a student thriving in spite of circumstances. As COVID- 19 has been the focus of many things around us for the last 7 months, we continue to reflect on the challenges and the impact. But exactly what kind of impact? For Daniel Angel and his parents, it has been a labor of love. Daniel, or “Danny” as we know him, now almost 24, has dealt with cerebral palsy like a trooper. He began attending classes at OCCTAC when he was only 6 years old, and he and his parents work hard to keep him engaged in a variety of activities. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the quick transferring to classes online, Gloria and Abdel, Daniel’s parents, did not know how Danny was going to deal with the lessons. At the time, he was attending (and still does) social skills and other classes at Cypress College that he really enjoyed. Well, I must say, the first round connecting online was a learning experience. At the time mom Gloria, his second teacher at home and a taskmaster, was keeping him on a schedule of practicing.

I noticed over the months that Daniel was actually progressing faster online. Previously, in-person lessons were taking us quite a while to get through his main reading book, but by the beginning of summer, Danny had graduated out of his first book and started a new one. One other huge achievement was being able to play all of his major white and black key five finger patterns and white key 1 octave scales. At the beginning of the year, prior to COVID, Danny could only play 5 patterns and 4 scales. Danny also took part in the acting role of Rex Raccoon in the summer 2020 OCCTAC pandemic production of the play and film “La Mariposa”, premiering to the public on Giving Tuesday, December 1! Danny had a wonderful theatre experience and is excited to be a part of more theater classes. Thank you to Abdel, Gloria and Danny for really pressing through these times – that’s really “hitting the right keys” to life that are truly important.”


A Family Mentoring Success Story

OCCTAC’s Family Mentoring Program Coordinator, Janett Merino, tells the success story of one of her young participants: “Lorena is a 10 year-old girl in our Family Mentoring Program. She is a very active girl and very restless. Lorena likes to explore all parts of her house but she cries often without explanation and without any known reason. She even scratches and becomes aggressive in some moments. But Lorena’s mother noticed that with an activity using pebbles, with a little help, Lorena could decorate a mini blackboard. The activity consists of using small stones and painting on the mini canvas. Lorena stops crying during this activity and she is very happy when she hears that she is going to participate in this activity. Lorena’s mother is very satisfied and arrives punctually to her sessions. She has been given new materials so that Lorena can continue her new favorite activity at home.”



Halloween may look different during COVID-19, but it was no excuse for the EISOA Program to not celebrate with their older adult participants. OCCTAC and the EISOA program have reinvented and transformed the way we are in contact with our older adults. We kept our older adults’ community safe this Halloween by having a virtual Halloween party. On Wednesday, October 28, 2020, they had fun with a virtual costume party, treats and tricks and fun games.  But the good news is that even though we cannot celebrate as easily in person, we can still make memories and spend time together! Most of our participants who attended the virtual celebration called our case managers to say, “this is my real party I attend after pandemic started more than eight months ago, it was fun and helped me to forget all the negative things that are happening during this 2020.” Another participant said, “I never imagined what fun a virtual party can be!!”. “Having this virtual party gave me the opportunity to put my imagination to work when I try to have a costume party with things around my home. I am scared to go and buy something in the stores.” This celebration keeps our older adults active and decreases the risk of suffering isolation and/or depression.


You Can Help OCCTAC Today!

The new federal CARES Act allows for charitable gift tax deductions in 2020, even if you are unable to itemize your deductions, as an added incentive to give.

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:

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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