Many hands brighten Oak View

A quiet Saturday morning in Huntington Beach was quickly filled with the voices of nearly 400 volunteers as they moved in to help spruce up the Oak View neighborhood.

Organized by OneOC, volunteers from 16 different companies from Orange County and residents of the Oak View neighborhood came out to conduct a slew of beautification projects in the square-mile community.

"The secret sauce for [Saturday's] event is we have people working together as part of one community," OneOC President Dan McQuaid said. "The neighbors here are participating and they're going to work side-by-side with volunteers from companies. That just shows you that if you work together, great things can happen."

At Oak View Elementary School, volunteers from Pacific Life repainted classrooms, Disney volunteers painted murals and school mottos on handball walls while the Oak View community group El Viento planted trees.

"I found out that this was really close to where I lived. [Oak View] is kind of its own little community," said Mike Burns, a Huntington Beach resident who works in guest relations at Disneyland. "With this small town feel, even though we're in such a populated place, I thought it was it was a good idea to come and support [this community] as much as possible."

OneOC is a nonprofit consulting group that brings businesses and communities together. McQuaid said Saturday morning isn't a one-and-done project, but more of an introduction to the community.

"We really want this not to be a done-in-a-day event," McQuaid said. "This is where people get to know other people, within their companies, the business community and also within where people live. And by working together, we can make a more vibrant Orange County."

OneOC connected Oak View with the Corporate Volunteer Council of Orange County, a group within OneOC made up of 26 businesses looking to contribute back to the community, with this project being their first.

"Volunteerism has been very important to the Walt Disney Company for 30 years," said Diane Killeen, manager of cast initiatives with Disney. "This is our first initiative as a council. We're coming together as a collaborative to try and make a huge difference in an area that needs some revitalization."

Oak View is a square-mile neighborhood bordered by Warner Avenue, Slater Avenue, Gothard Street and Beach Boulevard.

Latinos make up the majority of the community's compacted population, said Iosefa Alofaituli, the executive director of the nonprofit group Oak View Renewal Partnership, which aims to close the gap between those in Oak View and the rest of Huntington Beach.

"We've made some tremendous strides," Alofaituli said. "We're moving the needle, but there's still a gap that exists between Oak View and the rest of Huntington Beach."

The Corporate Volunteer Council heard there was need in the Oak View community and talked with Alofaituli to see if Oak View Renewal Partnership would be interested in working on a project.

"Synchronicity: Things just line up at the right time," he said.

More than 100 residents of Oak View came out to help with the beautification work, including some who are part of the Oak View community group El Viento.

The group helps the youth of Oak View get through school and into college, but also guides them through life, said chief operating officer Zayda Garcia.

"The beautification here is only one day, but it's the first day of forming relationships with all those corporations getting to know our residents and community and seeing how they can be a part of that change in our community," she said.

Oak View Elementary was the most impacted by the project, with nine different improvements done on the campus.

Principal Laura Dale-Pash was excited to see so many volunteers help improve the school.

"There's just so many projects that we haven't had the manpower for and the time," she said. "They're coming in and doing all of those things. I've been here a year and a half and there's so many things that we got started and now they're all coming into existence."

Oak View resident Hiram Morales, whose daughter is in El Viento, thought helping to improve the community was the least he could do.

"I like to set an example for the kids," he said. "I grew up here and live here and I'm trying to make a difference and set an example for the rest."

Twitter: @acocarpio

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