WAOU Virtual Community Cafés were an online education initiative created during COVID-19 to stay connected and to continue networking and learning during quarantine.
Over time, WAOU Virtual Community Cafés transformed into a series of webinars open to everyone, covering a variety of topics relevant to the communities in the Greater Palm Springs and Inland Empire area, such as youth development, community mental health and wellness, innovation, technology, and economic development.
The goal of Virtual Community Cafés is to bring people together to learn from each other and together build a better future. Each Virtual Café was hosted by a different expert on the topic. Our guests lead the discussion and encouraged the participants to share their own experiences and perspectives.
From these Virtual Cafés, we have created an online WAOU Community Archive—a valuable platform for people to learn about important issues and discover topics beneficial to their community.
To watch, visit our Youtube Channel or find a topic that interests you below.
Every September we remind ourselved that a Suicide Prevention Awareness Month needs to be talked about. In this Virtual Café we invited Mental Health First Aid Responder LaKenya Pitchford to talk about prevention and mental health practices available to everyone.
In this Virtual Café, we want to discuss navigating the tension and disconnection in family relationships with Kate Emerson, an experienced social worker and mental health practitioner. Conflict resolution skills can come in handy anytime you're dealing with trauma or abuse and these skills can help us to settle our relationship and bring understanding to our families.
Don't miss this discussion with Maureen Misuraca. Maureen has over 20 years of experiential training and is also trained in Internal Family Systems - an evidence-based therapy that works well with eating disorders, complex trauma, anxiety, and depression. She has worked previously at the Betty Ford Center for over 12 years, so she has a deep understanding of addiction and its effects on a family. She also has training in child therapy and works with children and their families.
James B. Golden is a Los Angeles based Learning & Development Specialist with over 10 years of organizational development experience in training methodology, design, executive coaching, systems improvement, motivation, cultural competence, and inclusion. James is a Mental and Behavior Health specialist with a decade of experience in Substance abuse, Addiction, and Relationship counseling.
Dawn McCoy (McJoy), is a Founder & CEO of Red Shoe Project, Inc. A Mental and Emotional Health Services nonprofit in Redlands, CA. Dawn will join us to talk about gratitude, the importance of finding happiness in our lives, and how to look at the bright side of life. Belief is very important part of her teaching, so understanding the connection between god and happiness is what drives her forward.
As the founder of the organization "Dat Yoga Dude," James Woods manages his organization with a focus on promoting mental health and wellness. He uses his expertise as a top wellness speaker and School Stress Strategist to create programs and resources aimed at improving the mental and physical health of individuals in the educational system.
We were happy to welcome Esteban Ortiz, a Community Program Specialist, from the San Bernardino regional office of The State Council on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD).
In this Virtual Café, our main guest, Pepi Jackson - the CEO/President of the Riverside County Black Chamber of Commerce talks about the importance of building a entrepreneurship mindset in black minority communities.
In this Café we focused on the future of sustainable communities and how this can be achieved in the Greater Palm Springs. Our speaker, Lauren Bruggemans, the director of Sustainability and Community Engagement at Visit Greater Palm Springs is perfectly matched to bring knowledge and inspiration into how community partners can work together to build a better future.
Mihai Patru is the Executive Director of Caravanserai Project, a social impact venture working to support mission-driven organizations and an Entrepreneur in Residence on Social Entrepreneurship at the University of California in Riverside. Prior, he served as a Senior Fellow at the School of Public Policy, University of California in Riverside where he designed and launched the first social entrepreneurship pre-accelerator program.
Esri is a technological company, pioneering ArcGIS - the world's most powerful mapping and analytics software. Our guest, Kymberli Fieux, who is currently working as Senior Account Executive, introduced us to their work and to opprtunities within.
In this Virtual Café we were joined by Felix Marhuenda-Donate, a professor in the Computer Science department at the College of the Desert. Together with his co-workers, Martin Flores, Mark Rizzo and Patrick Jacobs we discussed the future of STEM jobs, career pathways, and different specializations in the computer science field.
In this Virtual Café, led by Rainita Narender, Ph.D., we learn how to harness the power of data to foster understanding, collaboration, and unity between different groups. This discussion explores how we can utilize data to overcome the divide between communities and help bridge the gap between them.
Our guest Edwin Ramoran, the co-founder Bayanihan Desert in the Coachella Valley, joined our café to participate in a talk about history and experiences of Filipino community in the Palm Springs area.
We invited guests from all over Coachella Valley and San Bernardino to share their traditions with us. Juanita Garner told us more about their Mexican-American traditions, Zubair and Dr. Augustine Kposowa taught us about Kwanzaa and African traditions, and Lily Khanbegian helped us discover the magic of Armenian Christmas traditions.
In celebration and honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, let’s remember Dr. King's message, what has been overcome since his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, and how we can continue his legacy for a brighter future. WAOU team was fortunate enough to have amazing guests and history teachers, willing to share their knowledge of the African-American history with us, Dr. Dawn Cox and Joi Cox M.Ed.
Lauren Bruggemans led a workshop about branding and how our approach shifts when creating messages and content for social impact enterprises or social issues.
Every brand needs a story. We learned about the structure of stories and discussed how important tone of voice and branding personas are for building a personal brand.
Zachariah Rabah led a series of focus groups teaching us how data visualization works and how we should disseminate results and apply them in the community development process.
We want our young people to be equipped with valuable and useful skills. That's why we invited CPA and financial advisor, Mark Taylor, to talk about money management, budgeting, debt, investing and tax preparation.
Teacher and community leader Ricky Wright Jr. shared his story about how to give back to your community. After spending years working with youth outside Palm Springs, he decided to come back to help build the next generation of leaders.
Together with Grace Elena Garner - Palm Springs Mayor and Councilwoman, we learned about the importance of civic engagement and community participation in their local politics.