Serving the community since 1922

Orange Heart Foundation: Cultivating community spirit and optimism

The Orange Heart Foundation is a nonprofit organization with a mission to enhance the community of Wasco. The organization aims to instill optimism through educational and recreational initiatives, uniting through events, and focusing on the betterment of the local area. The goal is to elevate the quality of life in the community by establishing constructive and inspiring customs that represent the entirety of residents.

The OHF was founded in 2015 following the organization of the Centennial Music Festival by a group of WHS alumni, Traci Mills-Clendenen, Ruvi Ocampo and Orquidea Ocampo, representing the ’90s decade.

"After generating funds from the event, which were not designated for a particular class, we chose to donate the funds to Toy for Tigers and SAL[the Sheriff’s Activities League]. Experiencing the warmth of giving back to our community was truly heartwarming. This pivotal moment inspired our group to establish our non-profit. The name "Orange Heart" was derived from our high school's color, while the "heart" symbolizes our deep affection for our community," Orquidea said.

OHF contributes to the community by organizing events that unite residents, promoting pride and optimism.

"Initially, our intention was solely to organize an annual Music Festival. However, after participating in the community breakfast, Vicky Height approached us to assist in raising funds for the community fireworks at Barker Park. The previous year without fireworks had left a somber impact, so we committed to raising $10,000 for the fireworks show that was right around the corner," Traci said.

"With the generous donations of local business owners and all those who bought 50-cent lemonade from our inaugural lemonade stand, we successfully fundraised the amount and celebrated a fantastic 4th of July fireworks show. Subsequently, this endeavor evolved into an annual fundraiser for our organization."

In addition, the OHF also organized its first annual Father-Daughter Dance, now hosted each spring. This summer, OHF collaborated with Wasco Families Wrestling to host a cornhole tournament, which raised funds for local youth wrestlers to participate in a tournament in San Diego.

OHF collaborates with other organizations and partners with them to achieve its goals.

"Most of our events are made possible through collaboration with other organizations. For instance, we partnered with the Woman's Club when we hosted etiquette classes. Additionally, we have formed partnerships with Wasco Union High School District and Wasco Union Elementary School District. Currently, we are in collaboration with the Wasco Rose Festival Committee. Through that collaboration, we have developed a respectful working relationship with the City of Wasco Public Works Department, where we work together to safely and successfully host the Rose Festival Parade and Christmas Parade," Ruvi said.

The nonprofit has evolved since its inception, and over time, it has expanded its reach and impact by forming strategic partnerships with the City of Wasco, Woman's Club, Wasco Union High School District, Wasco Union Elementary School District and the Wasco Rose Festival Committee. These collaborations have allowed the OHF to broaden its scope of activities and services and engage with the community.

Traci said that some of their proudest moments have been seeing residents or past residents get involved with the community. "And seeing them radiate with pride and optimism in the future of our community. We strive to emphasize the importance of being involved and working to create the environment that we want to raise our kids and grandkids in."

She added that she believes their long-term goals evolve with the needs of our community. "We never thought we would be advocating for the old labor camp to be demolished, but there was a need, so we joined others to make our issue known, and we are now beginning to see that project come to fruition. We aspire to cultivate the spirit of giving back and respect in our community."

To learn more about the organization and how to get involved, email [email protected].


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