I started OCCares on 2013 because I was wanted to work with the leaders and volunteers in the community to promote Unity, Charity & Compassion in our youth:
- Unity by encouraging businesses, schools, and individuals to give back and get involved
- Charity by supporting non-profits in Orange County and helping raise awareness and funds for their causes.
- Compassion by nurturing the spirit of volunteerism and participation among our youth to become part of a community solution.
Being raised as a pastor’s daughter, I was taught the importance of caring for others. But more importantly, my parents lived and demonstrated a life of giving and self-sacrifice. My father's passion was mission work, and my mother was a Social Entrepreneur at heart who worked hard on her orchard so that the proceeds from her business to fund my father's mission work without having to rely on donations. She also helped people start small businesses in farming and food production and provided jobs at her orchard for those with limited employement opportunities. This shaped my life and provided the foundation for the vision of OCCares.
While serving as a Commissioner of the Children and Families Commission of Orange County (2013~2016), I began to discover the great needs that were present in Orange County and the wonderful non-profit organizations that were striving to meet those needs. I also saw the effectiveness of the Commission’s model of supporting established non-profit organizations, recognizing that by aiding organizations with a proven track record of meeting their base needs, each dollar contributed goes further toward fulfilling the charitable goals of the organization, rather than duplicating the efforts of others.
While serving on the Visioning Council of my church and interacting with other churches and organizations, I learned that there were many people in organized settings that were looking for ways to reach out to the community in need. Also, my experience as a volunteer for various non-profit organizations, I had to privilege of meeting many corporations and individuals that were looking to support organizations that were serving the community effectively and efficiently.
As a mom raising an only child in a society of excess, I realized that I was focusing a significant amount of time and energy on my daughter's achievements and accomplishments and one day I "woke up" with a thought that she may grow up missing out on all of the benefits of giving and caring for others. On speaking with other parents, I realized that many other parents shared my sentiments. However, when asked to serve, most youth, including my daughter, were willing and happy to contribute their time and talents for a meaningful cause. I concluded that what our youth need is proper channeling of their energy and opportunities to utilize their talents and resources for the benefit of others.
Since founding OC Cares, I have been struck by both the desire of our youth to get involved in social causes, and also that many of them did not have the tools to fully-achieve their desire. As a result, OC Cares, while still having a primary interest in funding beneficial causes to help people in our communities, has decided to focus our efforts on providing those tools to our youth who want to grow as socially-responsible entrepreneurs. We created a Youth Social Entrepreneur Program (YSEP) designed to promote both awareness of being socially conscious, supporting charitable causes, volunteerism, etc., and also the basic skills that our youth need to know in order to be good stewards of precious resources and successful entrepreneurs – how to work collaboratively in (and lead) an organization, how to manage money, how to look at contracts, what are the basic elements of a business, and where are the resources to help them develop into socially-responsible, entrepreneurial young men and women.
It is my hope that through OCCares our youth's perspective on life will be more positive and they will become successful compassionate leaders and entrepreneurs that make a meaningful impact wherever they go in this world! We welcome those that share our vision to join us in our mission.
-Katherine Ahn, Founder
If you would like to get involved with OCCares as a volunteer or donor, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org