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New CCA President finds fulfillment, joy in work

By Stephen Webster
Investigative Reporter

Scott Orr, the recently-appointed President of Lewisville-based Christian Community Action, is having the time of his life.

“You know, I spent a long time making money for people who already had money, and it just wasn’t what I was looking for,” he said during an interview on July 11. “I wanted to give back. I wanted to set a good example for my sons and my community. So I got into volunteer work and found myself a lot happier.”

Photo by Stephen Webster
Scott Orr, President of Christian Community Action, laughs at a friendly joke by one of the food pantry's volunteers.

Orr, a graduate of Harvard Business School, spent several years after graduating working for Fidelity Investments. “And really, they are a great company,” he said. “I was very good at what I did, but after a while that well was running dry for me. I decided to take a few months off. I had been blessed with some financial flexibility, so I just started looking around, trying to figure out what I wanted to do.”

Scott looked into a variety of fields, from running a restaurant to managing mutual funds. But it was not until be got involved with a small adoption agency that he found his life’s calling. Christian Works for Children, a small agency based in Dallas, gave him a taste of what a life spent helping others can be like. After several months helping find stable, loving homes for under-privileged children, he was ready to step up to non-profit management.

About five months ago, Scott was appointed to lead the 33-year-old CCA, one of North Texas’ largest non-profit organizations. “It has been an amazing experience so far,” he said. “This organization is such a huge part of our community’s effort to help the poor among us. And we’ve been tremendously successful, I’m glad to say.”

“Typically,” explained Scott, “someone comes to us because they are about to have their electricity cut off, or their water cut off, or they are about to be evicted from their home or apartment. They come to us because they are in a crisis, and we do everything we can to meet that need right away.”

In these cases, CCA sends a caseworker to visit with the individual. The caseworker then determines what they need to help them along. “But it is not just a hand out,” explained Scott. “It is a hand up. If that person, say, cannot make additional money because they didn’t graduate high school, we help them get into a GED program; or, if they are about to be evicted because they can’t hold a job, we’ll help them with their rent and then get them into one of our job training programs. We’ll give them some nice clothes, teach them how to present themselves to employers, how to hold themselves while on the job, etcetera.”

“Certainly, there are some who come to us that are permanently disabled, like senior citizens who have been abandoned by their adult children and can no longer work, or people who are just physically unable to support themselves. We do everything we can to help them, because if we don’t, nobody else will.”

Photo by Stephen Webster
Scott sits next to CCA's statue of Jesus in the parking lot of their main office on Mill Street in Lewisville.

Currently, CCA runs several large-scale operations in the area, including several thrift stores, a food pantry, a part-time clinic, a public housing “neighborhood,” a job-training center complete with networked computers and Internet access, and, coming soon, a community garden.

“The community garden is something I want to see materialize in the near future,” said Scott. “It can really bring people from all walks of life together. Because really, it isn’t so much about the garden, or the fresh produce that comes out of it. It is about deepening the roots of our community. It is about strengthening bonds between neighbors. I hope to see the cities in the area come together and set aside some vacant land for a project like that. Not only will it help the food pantry by supplying it with fresh fruit and vegetables, but people who wouldn’t normally talk to each other can come together and become friends, so when someone slips through the cracks, or disaster strikes someone in the community, there is a support system to catch them.”

Currently, CCA’s operations are slightly scaled back due to a lack of donations. “During the summer months,” explained Scott, “we run a little light since school isn’t in and the Boy Scouts aren’t doing a whole lot. We don’t get nearly as much in donations, at least for the food pantry, just because there isn’t as much going on in the community.”

But the needs of the community do not abate during the hot season. “We take anything our community is willing to give,” continued Scott. “Nothing goes to waste. Anything that is donated to CCA either goes to the food pantry, or the clinic, or to one of our three thrift stores, which are really the main pillars of CCA’s financial support.”

In the coming year, Scott hopes to have launched the community garden project and get the clinic up and running on a full time basis. “My short experience with CCA has really been a blessing to me,” said Scott. “I just feel overwhelmed some days at how much this organization does, and I am glad to be a part of its management. God has given me enough in my life so far to be able to live comfortably. I feel like I get to serve out of the overflow of my heart, and I just want to help other people.”

For more information about Christian Community Action, visit www.CCAHelps.org.

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