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OCCTAC News - September 2020

Thank You to Our Wonderful Donors!

OCCTAC would like to recognize and thank Scott Turner for his generous donation of $5,000 to support the mission of our organization! Scott is a newcomer to the Orange County area, and was introduced to our organization by our Vice President and board member Melody Winter Head.  Scott stated, “I thought it was important to support the critical work of OCCTAC during these difficult times, in the hopes it might inspire others.”   The funds donated by Scott will provide scholarship opportunities to very young children and parents of very limited resources to attend our Early Start and Pre-Kinder Arts Program.  This program is essential for the community, since it provides early intervention and school readiness to low-income communities.  Thank you Scott Turner for your kindness and generosity.  God bless you!


Cynthia Faisst Scholarship Fund

Thank you to Ralph and Verna Faisst for their generous donation of $1,000 in memory of our beloved Cynthia and the Cynthia Faisst Scholarship Fund.

Ms. Cynthia’s commitment to music education for children in our community will live on, and her legacy will endure to serve future generations. If you would like to contribute to the Cynthia Faisst Scholarship Fund, and  provide additional scholarship opportunities to very young children of low-income communities, please contact us for more information at (714)547-5468 or email

Thank you!


Muchas Gracias Chipotle!

Thank you to our friends at Chipotle and Claudia Hami for donating $1000 to our organization!  OCCTAC was nominated for the Chipotle Serves Community Outreach Grant by General Manager Claudia Hami of Chipotle Restaurant, 7940 N. Van Nuys Blvd., #2A, Panorama City, CA 91402.   The funds donated will provide additional scholarships to low-income children and youth to participate in music, art, dance and theatre classes throughout the year! The grant is part of Chipotle’s “Chipotle Serves” Employee Resource Group dedicated to community service and enhancing the communities in which Chipotle operates. Through the Community Outreach Grant program, Chipotle empowers it’s GMs to support non-profit organizations in their communities that are doing important work around one of three key pillars: People, the Planet, and Food. The Community Outreach Grant is a way for Chipotle employees to give back to their communities and work towards their mission of Cultivating a Better World by donating to organizations who embody this very ideal. We are humbly grateful for Chipotle’s contribution to cultivating a better world for OCCTAC students!


New Mental Wellness Program

at OC Children's Therapeutic Arts Center

Introducing OCCTAC's New Mental Wellness

Program & Coordinator

OCCTAC is pleased to welcome Axel G. Meléndez to the OCCTAC family as our Clinical Psychology Intern and Coordinator for the new mental health programs at our organization.  Our Mental Wellness Program is an extension of OCCTAC’s commitment to the health and wellness of our participants and community at large. In partnership with Pepperdine University and the University of Puerto Rico, OCCTAC is now offering individual and family therapy to the community.  Also, we are now offering  a variety of parenting classes and community workshops on mental health issues such as, Parenting in the Time of COVID, Preventing Risky Behaviors in youth, Substance Abuse, Emotional Wellness of Senior Adults and more!  

Axel G. Melendez is a PhD candidate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Puerto Rico. With a background in communications and arts, he is interested in the integration of disciplines, and building bridges of knowledge.  Axel has worked in research with the General Studies Faculty, where he helped with the coordination of the International Network of General Studies (RIDEG in Spanish), developed skills in Transdisciplinary research, and collaborated with Human Rights projects. He was part of Project Patria, an initiative to bring mental health services to Puerto Ricans after hurricane María and won scholarships for his essays and work with Latino communities. Axel is currently developing research on the use of photography as a psychotherapy tool in the process of identity exploration. Axel is OCCTAC’s Mental Wellness Program Coordinator and full-time psychology intern.



Working Together for Youth Wellness!

On Wednesday September 9, a group of parents from the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) and staff from OCCTAC had the opportunity to join efforts and open conversations about Preventing Risky Behaviors and Substance Use Awareness in our communities. This was part of our most recent series of free virtual workshops by OCCTAC’s Mental Wellness program in both Spanish and English on the topic of Substance Use Disorder, sponsored by the Multi-Ethnic Collaborative of Community Agencies (MECCA).

The group had a chance to share a variety of experiences and concerns about their children and families, all learning from each other while they received information on SUD from Axel Melendez Mercado, OCCTAC’s Mental Health Coordinator.  Some of the discussions included: foundations of physical and emotional wellness, information about general addictions and the effects of substances on a youth’s brain, current issues regarding substance abuse and how to appropriately talk with our youth. The participation of these parents shows their willingness to build better environments for the future of youth in our community.

We want to thank to Tina Rocha, Coordinator of Mental Health and Support Services at SAUSD for making this possible and our community partnership.  We are excited to continue these efforts to provide mental wellness information to our families and communities. If anyone is interested in these mental wellness workshops, please contact Axel at for more information. Let’s keep building strong social connections through community collaborations!


OCCTAC Early Start & PreKinder Program

Heidi's Alphabet Soup

“Wow, that's great mom!”  That was Heidi's response when she learned that she would return to Ms. Claudia's class.  A year ago, we had already finished the toddler session with her.  Heidi was attending Preschool when our daily lives turned upside down like everyone else’s… thus ending her school year online.  Pre-kinder is starting, but as a family we have decided to leave her at home, waiting for a healthier environment.  The same day that we notified her school that she would not return and while we were getting organized in our homeschool… Ms. Claudia called us offering ALPHABET SOUP.  What better complement to our new routine! Heidi couldn’t wait to share and play with more children after 6 months.

Heidi marks the class days on her calendar, and enthusiastically prepares her supplies, especially art supplies.  She has really enjoyed the transformation of her letter H into a Horse, the magic letters that appear with watercolor, and being able to trace numbers and letters with pastel pencils that are only for big children!

Happy and grateful to OCCTAC, once again it opens the doors for our family. — From the family of Heidi H., age 5



For more information please visit our website at:

Or call (714) 547.5468 to speak with our staff.


Free Virtual Mental Wellness Workshop

For EISOA Senior Adults & Family Mentoring Program

Through OCCTAC’s commitment to mental wellness and our partnership with OC MECCA, we are offering a series of educational Mental Wellness workshops via Zoom to our community. Zoom is a virtual conference app that is free to download and use.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest workshop dates and info!


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 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.


Become A Donor

OCCTAC is forever grateful of our Supporters and Community Partners!

Their donations and support continue to help our Arts Center grow and bring opportunities 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 also donate to our center! Find out how by clicking on the link below:

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