The secret to living is giving; numerous studies have shown that giving money to others or to charity will put a much bigger smile on your face than spending on yourself.
Here in Orange County, we are fortunate to have many philanthropists that support numerous areas of the arts as well as health and human services organizations.
These individuals are among the most generous people in Orange County and have chosen to donate their financial resources to the people and causes that need support.
Charles and Ling Zhang
Photo: OC Register
Charles Zhang knows what it’s like to work hard and become successful. Zhang immigrated from China when he was 23 years old with just $20 in his pocket. He didn’t know how to speak English and had no job skills. He dreamed of becoming a musician with his clarinet. But, his dreams were dashed when he cut his finger badly while working in a restaurant.
After that, Zhang worked long hours and with a business partner eventually opened his own restaurant, Pick Up Stix. Zhang met his wife when she immigrated from Taiwan and their restaurant became a chain with 100 locations. The Zhangs sold it in 2001 for $50 million.
They have donated much of their time and money to Charles Zhang’s first passion, the arts. The Zhangs have contributed to the Pacific Symphony by buying a new building to house it. They have also contributed to the Bowers Museum and Concordia University.
In 2016, they established Orange County Music and Dance, the county’s first and only nonprofit community performing arts school for students, including those who can’t afford tuition. They are working to build a $10 million endowment fund for future students. In 2018, the Zhangs were honored as outstanding philanthropists on National Philanthropy Day.
Suzanne and James Mellor
Another well-known philanthropist couple and supporter of the arts is Suzanne and James Mellor. After retiring as Chairman and CEO of General Dynamics in 1996, James Mellor and his wife permanently moved to Laguna Beach. They continually donate their wealth and time to the Laguna Playhouse where they set up the Mellor fund to give free theater tickets to those under age 21 so that they can attend shows at the Playhouse.
James Mellor serves on the Playhouse board as well as the Board of the Laguna College of Art and Design. Suzanne Mellor serves on the boards of the Laguna College of Art and Design and the Laguna Art Museum. She was also appointed to the city’s Arts Commission and is involved with the Segerstrom Center for the Arts as well as being a founding member of the Orange County Museum of Arts’ Visionaries.
The couple was recognized for their philanthropic efforts during the 2017 National Philanthropy Day. Over the past few years, the Mellors were honored by the Laguna Beach Arts Alliance as Individual Arts Patrons of the Year. The City of Laguna Beach also proclaimed a “Mellor Day” to recognize the couple for their contributions to the arts.
Ginny and Peter Ueberroth
Ginny and Peter Ueberroth are well-known philanthropists and founders of the Peter and Ginny Ueberroth Family Foundation. The Foundation was established in 1984, the same year Peter Ueberroth was named TIME Magazine’s Man of the Year. The Foundation partners with more than 70 non-profit organizations in Orange County and has invested over $40 million dollars in the area. The group supports local organizations, focusing on youth programs, education, and health and human services.
Besides their Foundation, the Ueberroths have also been involved in several other County organizations. Peter Ueberroth served as chairman of Rebuild Los Angeles after the 1992 Los Angeles riots, and also ran for governor in 2003.
Ginny Ueberroth is the founder of Circle 1000, a cancer support group at Hoag Hospital. In 1995, the couple donated $5 million to the director of Hoag’s Women’s Health Institute to help with research and education of women’s health issues.
The couple was also honored on National Philanthropy Day in 2018.
Charles Antis is the CEO of Antis Roofing and Waterproofing in Irvine. He has used his manpower and wealth to put roofs on all Habitat for Humanity projects in Orange County since 2009. That amounts to some 70 homes. His company has also done free roofing work for more than 35 nonprofit groups. In addition, Antis worked with fellow roofers to repair the roofs of 183 Ronald McDonald Houses across the country.
Antis has also paid it forward by working with the Honda Center in Anaheim to host hundreds of military veterans and members of local nonprofit groups in a special suite used for Ducks games.
In 2017, Antis Roofing was named the mid-size business honoree at the National Philanthropy Day Orange County awards.
Victoria Collins is a well-known philanthropist who has donated her time and money to help empower women and girls to be well-versed in finances and to be financially confident.
Collins is a former board president for Human Options and a founder of the United Ways’ Women’s Philanthropy Fund. She also serves as an Executive Coach with Executive Coaches of Orange County. This nonprofit organization provides one-on-one coaching to nonprofit leaders at no cost to help them set goals and solve problems.
Collins is also Founder and CEO of Your Legacy Project and has served on Center Club’s Board of Governors. She is also an author and holds a Ph.D. and helped found First Foundation Inc., a wealth management firm that manages nearly $3.5 billion.
Collins was named Outstanding Philanthropist in 2018 and was also honored on National Philanthropy Day in Orange County.
Each of these philanthropists has made their mark on the community as they strive to improve the lives of others. They are an inspiration and a great gift to our local community!