Community Champions

Jesus Ocampo Activities Director, CareMeridian
Grant Recipient, American Youth Soccer Organization, VIP Program

Jesus Ocampo donates his time as a coach in the American Youth Soccer Organization’s VIP (Very Important Player) program in Garden Grove, CA. The VIP program enables players with a wide range of challenges including developmental disabilities, blindness and mobility challenges to play soccer in a supportive environment that improves self-esteem and helps them make new friends. Jesus says it brings him joy to see the children having fun and being a part of the team.

“It makes the kids so happy. They come and give me a big hug and smile. I love to bring a smile to people. I love to make people happy,” he said.

Jesus became involved with the VIP team through his son, who plays on the team. During the soccer season, the team practices twice a week and plays games each weekend. Jesus also hosts social events at his home for the players and their families to reinforce the sense of community on the team. For him, it’s a chance to help youth with complex challenges to feel included, build confidence and achieve their goals.

“We don’t talk about their disability,” Jesus said. “I tell them, ‘You’re a member of this team. You have the power to do whatever you want. You can play as well as anyone else.’”

In his position as Activities Director for CareMeridian in Garden Grove, CA, Jesus demonstrates a similar commitment to helping people with brain injury and other challenges pursue their goals and interests. He assists participants with daily living tasks such as shopping as well as community outings and fun activities such as going to movies. His guiding principle is to build a sense of trust with the individuals he supports so they know they can count on him to help them through any challenge.

“He has a passion for helping people and to see them reach their fullest potential,” said Hanna Van der Walt, Clinical Services Specialist, who nominated Jesus.

For more information about the VIP program, visit www.ayso59.org.