Spotlight

Andrea O.

 

Spotlight on Andrea O. by Randall S.
“He was one of my role models. He taught me how to be strong. I learned my
work ethic from him and now he was gone,” Andrea O. recalls sitting in the center
of the Zen Garden. The “He” Andrea’s talking about was her beloved
Grandfather, Manuel Ocampo. The first Latino Secretary/Treasurer in LA’s Local
630 of the Teamsters, Manuel was an accomplished, generous, and loving
patriarch to Andrea’s family. Raised along with her two younger sisters by her
grandparents and later by her parents, who had Andrea when they were very
young, Andrea learned early on the power and meaning of family. “Culture and
family were always very important,” she says.

Coincidentally, her Spotlight interview just happened to take place on one of the
most hallowed and revered holidays in Mexico – “Dia de los Muertos,” the “Day
of the Dead.” Hailing from a proud and successful Mexican-American family, this
holiday has so much significance, considering its focus on the remembrance of
those family members who have passed, but are never forgotten. Practically from
birth, Andrea was a hard worker and an exuberant social butterfly. As she puts it,
“I’ve always been outgoing, and I made a lot of friends in and outside of school.”
She enjoyed being a cheerleader from eighth grade through the end of high
school and, like most teens her age, she enjoyed having fun and going to house
parties. However, she did have a little rebellious streak during those years and,
at times, ran with a rough crowd. But her grandparents and parents made sure
she steered clear of those entanglements to focus on schoolwork and her future.
To that end, she attended Cal State-LA following high school, where she would
eventually graduate.

Prior to that, however, at age eighteen, she met the man who would become the
father of her children. “He showed me the world. My first trip ever out of Los
Angeles was to Canada,” she recalls with a smile. Following that trip she found
out she was pregnant with her first child, a son. “That was a G-d send. He gave
me purpose,” she explains. Sadly, around this same time, her beloved
grandfather was diagnosed with colon cancer. He refused any and all medicinal
treatments for the disease and passed very quickly. But, as Andrea recounts, “I
was hoping he would live to see his first great grandchild and fortunately he did.”
Shortly after his passing, Andrea was blessed with positive news. She was
pregnant again, this time with a little girl. She was now a mother of two beautiful
children and she was barely into her twenties. Her children’s father lived at home
with her and the kids for the first twelve years of their relationship. But after that
period, the couple drifted apart and separated. However, the focus remained on
the wellbeing of their children and they put their co-parenting ahead of any issues
they may have had between each other.

In 2007, Andrea received devastating news. Her maternal grandmother had
passed. Two foundational rocks of her life were gone, but two new additions had
come along to provide Andrea with the motivation to work hard and provide for
them, as she had been taken care of by her beloved grandparents. She threw
herself into raising her kids, as well as taking on the loving task of caring for her
surviving grandmother. She encouraged her kids to play sports as well as
engage in other high school activities. In fact, her daughter followed in her
footsteps by becoming a cheerleader. They both did well in school and have
grown into successful adults and beautiful reflections of their mother’s love.
Andrea’s son, only twenty-two, just bought his first home and her daughter will be
graduating from Cal State-L.A. next year.

And while her family and kids are a large and loving focus of her life, Andrea has
many other drives in life. Having always had a strong work ethic and some type
of job or employment since she was fourteen, Andrea has had a multitude of
occupations throughout her life. Three years ago, she found herself working at a
job that gave her no fulfillment. “I was just going through the motions,” she says.
But then she came across a job opportunity working in accounting at a Jewish
faith-based rehab facility called Beit T’Shuvah. A practicing Catholic, she had
never met any Jewish people in her life. But as she investigated the listing, the
mission of BTS moved her. “I loved the fact Beit T’Shuvah’s main focus was to
help people,” she says.

And she loves the team she works with everyday. “Julie and Gela are so
supportive. They’re like my mentors. We’re an amazing team,” she proclaims
with that exuberant smile that lights up any room she enters. She also brings
another gift to her work at BTS. Having been an event planner, on and off
throughout her work life, she is extremely festive and loves bringing joy and
inventive decorations to the community during various holidays throughout the
year. This coming January, she will have worked at Beit T’Shuvah for three
years, and as she tells it, “I’m so lucky and blessed that I work for an organization
that saves lives everyday.”

But there is still so much more to Andrea’s life. While there may be some joking
disagreements within the walls of Beit T’Shuvah, there is no bigger Dodger fan
than Andrea Ocampo. Having attended games all her life with her family, she
definitely bleeds Dodger blue. Yet, it’s not just base hits and strikeouts for
Andrea. In 2017, her cherished father, a man who provided her and her sisters
with a loving and steadying father figure presence throughout their lives,
especially following the death of her grandfather, passed away after an
unexpected and short battle with cirrhosis of the liver. He was always a drinker
but he was also a loving dad and massive Dodger fan. The entire family would go
to the games—it was as much a bonding experience as it was a sporting event.
“Now Dodger games remind me of my father and the family bond we built around
those games together,” she relays with tears welling in her eyes.

Having survived her own health scares in 2020, Andrea has an even more
powerful perspective on life and the importance of family. Recently, she was also
asked to become the coordinator for the BTS 2022 Marathon team. “I accepted it
so I could connect even more with my community at BTS,” she explains. And she
doesn’t mind the health benefits it provides as well. At this stage in her life she
wants to travel more. She loves music and wants to attend more unique and
varied concert experiences. She loves helping people and wants to expand that
calling even further. She loves her kids and can’t wait to watch them bloom
further into their adulthood. And she really loves her little dogs, Foxxie and
Prince.

“I try to live an authentic and engaged life. I’m in a really good place emotionally
and spiritually and I’m looking forward to more interesting and fulfilling
experiences,” she concludes with that radiant smile still beaming

If you were moved by the story above, please consider making a donation to Beit T’Shuvah
today to help ensure the life-saving work we do continues. Every dollar makes a difference. You
can make a donation by going to https://beittshuvah.org/support/donate/ or emailing our
development department at development@beittshuvah.org