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The Inspiration Behind ConnectOC

The Inspiration Behind ConnectOC

Community leadership. The phrase that sparked a vision that has led the Orange County Community Foundation to re-think everything about our role as a community foundation. Go big or go home, as they say.

Community leadership has been the rallying cry of Emmett D. Carson, PhD, president of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, urging our field to re-define ourselves beyond being “conveners” and “facilitators” to true agents and leaders of change in our regions. After hearing Emmett share the powerful impact accomplished through his own work in both Minnesota and California, we decided to tackle the challenge here in Orange County.

We landed on a two-phase approach.  Phase I, patterned after the stellar work of the Seattle Foundation, would produce a community report revealing the myths and misconceptions about life in Orange County for our most vulnerable residents. We launched Phase I in the form of ConnectOC at our Annual Meeting in November 2012.  Phase II is in the planning stages now, and will be revealed later in 2013.

The work to get us here was a herculean effort – one we did not take on without substantial help, support and investment by a dedicated Leadership Cabinet (the subject of a future post) and volunteers. While sifting through reams of data, numbers and statistics, we kept coming back to the idea of personal connection.  Joann Leatherby, an OCCF Advisory Board member, said it best as she reflected back on the time in our country when most people lived in small towns.  When a neighbor was in trouble, everybody stepped in to help.  A hot meal would show up on the doorstep.  Friends offered to take care of a neighbor’s children while they got back on their feet.  Entire towns pitched in to help repair a damaged barn or home. It is that kind of voluntary action and willingness to help others that has defined us as Americans. And it is in that spirit that we hope ConnectOC will inspire action and response in Orange County.

This blog is where we will go deeper – sharing insight, information and examples of how Orange County residents, donors and nonprofits are working to build a brighter, stronger, more vibrant community for all. We invite your feedback along the way.

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