DoctorS Nonprofit Consulting & CSUF Faculty
I have been a member of the Faculty with the Department of Child & Adolescent Studies at California State University, Fullerton for 16.5 years. My professional experience & classes revolve around the adolescent & emerging adult developmental period which now covers ages between 9 and 26 years old. One of the responsibilities each CSUF faculty has is to stay current in our experience with what we teach. Because of that I am always looking for new or unique ways to involve myself with these youth and young adults in addition to those professionals working with them out in the community. When I heard a new coalition was forming to address some of the needs of TAY youth, I jumped at the opportunity to get involved.
I have personally benefited from attending the Connect-OC Coalition meetings by actually hearing from TAY youth frequently as well as those working with them out in our communities. Their voices inform my teaching at the University. I have also made some great connections in the meetings and also helped facilitate some meaningful connections for others as well. In hearing others' responses to the meetings, I have to believe they are gaining the same valuable experience as well.
I was honored to be asked to join the inaugural Connect-OC Advisory Committee and have done everything I can to support this effort in that capacity. That includes things like making introductions to potential speakers for future meetings, helping recruit TAY youth for a young adult advisory Board, & assisting with connections on the CSUF campus among other things.
Finally, I have also watched numerous professionals connect in meaningful ways in our meetings. I can even share a few personal examples:
Connect-OC member APAIT received a SAMHSA grant to work with TAY youth in the area of high-risk choices. They (Gilbert Chan) announced in a monthly Connect-OC meeting that they were looking for college aged youth for their new program’s educational series. I connected with their employee who provided me with a flyer I shared with my classes at the University. He said the response was remarkable. So much so he asked me again a year later if I would do it again for a different program.
Connect-OC member OC Mental Health Assoc (Sara Marquez) was approached by a local Foundation looking to give away a new award and cash prize in OC. She connected them with me, and after much discussion about what they wanted to do I agreed to apply. I was honored with their award and a $10,000 prize that was promptly donated to Tara’s Chance, a small OC nonprofit equine therapy program serving special needs youth & young adults. Shortly after tall that, Tara’s Chance asked me to join their Board of Directors which I agreed to do.
Connect-OC member The Laguna Playhouse (Erin O’Flaherty) was looking to pull together a mental health panel to present in conjunction with the opening of their performance of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical. As a result of our interactions in the monthly meetings & the Advisory Committee, Erin asked me if I would do this, and I was happy to help. I also helped recruit another expert panel member for them.
These are just some of many examples that came to mind today while I was thinking about the myriad of things that have come out of the Connect-OC Coalition meetings for me. Honestly, there is almost no limit to the number of meetings I could attend any given month in our County. Because of my own time limits, I do have to choose carefully which ones I want to attend. I will say the Connect-OC meetings are one of the ones I do not like to miss because they are so dynamic and great connections are being made there.