Ocasio Family Fund
Est. 2022 by Anaika and William Ocasio to give back to their neighborhood and the Latino community
When William and Anaika Ocasio thought about giving and ways they could really make an impact, their minds always traveled back to Grand Avenue and Fair Haven.
William grew up in the neighborhood; his roots and attachment run deep. Anaika feels the same.
“I was born in Puerto Rico and came to New Haven when I was 12,” Anaika said. “My mom had a small boutique on Grand Avenue. She was the second Hispanic business owner in the area, and I saw the neighborhood transform into the diversity we see today. Fair Haven has always been very dear to our hearts.”
“There’s always been a need for leadership, for scholarships and for grants,” William said. “I wanted to leave something behind for my neighborhood and the Latino community. ”
William is a postal supervisor, and Anaika, a realtor, massage therapist and owner of The Serene Spot, a massage, esthetics and recovery center. They own rental properties in Fair Haven and have long been involved in the community.
“I volunteer with the Progreso Latino Fund (PLF), and I’ve been inspired by what the fund does,” Anaika said. She noted that nearly 20 years ago a few individuals put money together “for a common cause to help the Hispanic community” and created a fund. “The Foundation took that vision, and the PLF has grown far beyond where those founders thought it could,” Anaika said. “That was one of the things that made me think: we can do this.”
To start the process of creating a fund, Anaika met Liana Garcia, The Foundation’s director of gift planning. They talked about the ways a busy, working family with four children, two of whom are in college, could establish their own fund.
“It was mind blowing to see that we could start this now,” Anaika said.
After talking with her, Anaika and William decided to create the Ocasio Family Fund and focus their giving on helping New Haven youth pursue careers in the trades.
“I was helping in the Fair Haven community, volunteering with CFAl (Concepts for Adaptive Learning) teaching computer skills to parents of middle and elementary school students and I saw the needs firsthand,” Anaika said.
She and William wondered what would happen next for those young people as they finished high school, particularly for the students who weren’t planning to go to college.
“There is always going to be a need for electricians, plumbers and anyone who does something with their hands,” William said. “It’s the quickest way to earn a stable living.”
“If you choose not to go to college, there are other ways to create a living and a profession for yourself,” Anaika added. The Ocasios want to help provide those opportunities.
“The fund will partner with nonprofits that have identified high school students who want to get into the trades and are in need, and provide scholarships and grants,” Anaika said. “With rents going up and the cost of so many things rising, something like buying uniforms for a trade or buying a computer can be very hard for a family.”
The fund will also provide support to nonprofits helping women entrepreneurs. “We love the flexibility of the fund,” Anaika said.
William and Anaika said they’ve shaped their family life around faith and giving back. And they’ll encourage their four children – Vianka and Victor Montalvo and Giancarlo and Giovanni Ocasio – to eventually carry the fund forward.
“I’m Puerto Rican; William is half Puerto Rican and half Colombian,” Anaika said. “We wanted to feel that joy of being a Hispanic family creating something for our people.”
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