Keith and Judy Swayne recently hosted an evening gathering at their home to introduce friends and associates to the Orange County Congregation Community Organization (OCCCO). OCCCO works to empower residents in many of the county’s lower income areas to become engaged in democracy and work to bring about improvement in their communities. The evening was well attended and gave Debbie Phares, Executive Director of OCCCO a chance to talk about the mission of their organization to individuals who were previously unfamiliar with their work. The group also had the chance to hear first hand from a community leader trained by OCCCO as to how she developed the ability to become an effective advocate for social change and improvement in her community.
A special feature of the evening was a display of portraits of several of the community leaders painted by students from the Laguna College of Art and Design. Dennis Power, President of the College, and his wife attended the event along with others from Laguna Beach and neighboring communities. The goal of the evening was to introduce people to OCCCO and encourage them to learn more.
Keith Swayne stated “I believe the evening was a success. OCCCO is helping individuals address the needs of their communities when often times these folks are intimidated by the process of civic engagement or simply don’t understand the process or lack the time to become engaged. These individuals have learned they can make a difference. Our guests heard this from OCCCO leaders. We need to build strong communities and strong local leadership in all communities if we are to achieve an inclusive society where we all participate in our democracy as equals.”