Orange Coast Magazine - "OC Heroes of the Year" - Nov. 2018 Article
Ana Jimenez-Hami makes a difference with her Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center in Santa Ana.
Created in 2000, the center offers arts enrichment to children with special needs as well as at-risk youth and adults in the community. It also provides free family counseling tutoring, career development, and homework help. Jimenez-Hami is a passionate advocate for the power of the arts. She nearly bubbles over the pride when talking about alums such as Martha Rivera, who came to the center when she was 11 to learn the piano, blossomed into a talented musician and serious student, and recently received her master’s degree in education from Harvard University.
“Art is much more powerful than people realize,” Jimenez-Hami says. “It has the power to impact a child academically, emotionally, and socially. For special-needs children, it’s even more transformational. It gives them a voice, which is very empowering.”
Her educational background is uniquely suited for her work with the center; she holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology and music, and a doctorate in education. She was studying for the latter when she learned that her parents had been killed in her native Puerto Rico during a robbery at their jewelry store.
She founded the center to honor their memory, she says, because they frequently donated food, clothing, and toys to children from low-income families, specially those with special needs, and taught her to do the same. Now, when she sees a smile light up the face of a boy who’s playing the violin with his prosthetic arm for the first time, she knows her parents are proud.
“They may not be physically here,” she says. “But my parents inspire me every day.”
Photography by MARIAH TAUGER Pg. 88 - Orange Coast Magazine * November 2018
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Youth Council Speech PY 2017-2018 Youth Employment Program
Speech from PY 2017-2018 YEP Youth Council participant, Freddy Medina: Hello, my name is Freddy, and I am in the second year of the youth employment program. Before joining the program, I had graduated from Valley High school in 2017. After graduating from high school, I did not know what to do with my life and did not feel prepared to find a job. I am originally from Ecuador and moved to the United States when I was 17. The education I received back home was not equivalent to the United States and was pushed back to the 9th grade. I graduated high school at the age of 21 and still felt like I was limited through my physical disabilities and language barriers. After graduation, I felt pressured and did not have enough motivation to do something with my life. My language barriers discouraged me from applying to jobs or going back to school because I felt like I was not a good English speaker.
One of my high school teachers recommended me to join the Youth Employment Program at OCCTAC. I love anything that is related to visual arts such as art, photography, and video editing. I always like to learn new things and believed that I was going to gain more knowledge and experience in the video production class. Overall, this program has helped me with different parts of my life and has made me feel more comfortable in taking risks. I felt comfortable asking questions because I always received help. The career counselor helped me figure out what steps to take by helping me explore career options and to continue with my education. This program has helped me prepare for future job opportunities and has helped me to express myself more.
Right now, I am currently going to Santa Ana College to obtain a degree in civil engineering. I am also continuing taking the office clerk classes to receive a certificate. Compared to when I first started the program, I now feel more prepared to obtain my goals.
Learn more About This Program https://www.occtac.org/youth-employment-program
International Older Adult Fair
International Older Adult Fair
The EISOA Program brought a booth to the International Older Adult Fair in Santa Ana on October 1, 2018. During the fair, the participants had the opportunity to receive free health screening, watch performances, and visit booths that had information on resources within the community. They also had the chance to meet new people outside the regular classes during the week. Participants were very active at our booth explaining the EISOA program and how it benefits them. The following is a quote from a EISOA participant: Mrs. G. said “This fair was fun to go to. It had a lot of resources for older adults. I liked watching the show and there was good food.”
Mr. C., an 81-year-old Latino male who was referred to EISOA due to isolation, was able to apply for housing. After a few months waiting for a response, his application was approved. At that moments, the participant discovered that he had collections when housing ran his credit report. Case manager worked with Mr. C for several months trying to settle the dispute he had filed with the collection agencies in order for him to keep his housing. On September 28, 2018, Mr. C son called to let case manager know that his father suffered a stroke on September 21, 2018. Case manager visited the participate at the hospital in order to see how he was doing. Mr. C was not able to speak and had limited movement. After several visits to the hospital, Mr. C son told the case manager that at the moment his father does not have a place to live after exiting the hospital. During this time, case manager continued to work on getting the participant approved for housing in order for Mr. C to have a place to go when he got out of the hospital. Finally, on October 16, 2018 Mr. C was approved for housing. Case manager visited the participants at the convalescent home and explained to him that his housing was approved. Mr. C stated, “I am thankful that I am able to have a place to go when I get out of the hospital. I do not have to worry.”
Mrs. A., an 84-year-old Latina female who has been in the program for three months, was referred to EISOA due to isolation after her husband passed away. During the initial intake, Mrs. A said, “Since my husband passed away I am always sad.” Case manager encouraged her to go to classes and events in order for her to socialize with others and be involved within the community. Since the initial intake, Mrs. A has been attending classes and events with the other participants. Mrs. A stated, “If it wasn’t for the EISOA classes that I come to then I would be dead just like my husband. These classes help me deal with my husband’s passing.”
Learn more About This Program