A Neighborhood You Should Know: Oak Ridge Showcases Orange County’s Unique Mix of Ethnicity and Diversity
When most people see a neighborhood for the first time, they focus on its homes and setting. Some places, however, only reveal their true character after living in them for a while because they contain a unique mix of cultural groups. Such is the case with Oak Ridge.
Nestled between Interstate 4 and Highway 17 and intersected by John Young Parkway, Oak Ridge has a population of approximately 24,000. Significantly, it has more people of Cuban and Puerto Rican ancestry living in it than nearly any neighborhood in the country (11.3 percent Cuban and 22.7 percent Puerto Rican). It is also unique linguistically, with 3.2 percent of its residents age 5 and above primarily speaking Vietnamese at home … higher than 97 percent of all neighborhoods in the United States.
“The best thing about this neighborhood is its diversity,” said Doris Allen, who works at the Orange County Neighborhood Center for Families in Oak Ridge. “It’s also special because the residents are extremely proud … proud of their homes and their neighborhood as a whole. Many people work two or three jobs just to make ends meet and support their families.”
Once a crime-ridden area, Oak Ridge and its residents pulled together to remedy this problem. Basically, they were not going to allow a few bad apples to undermine their community.
“I am honored to be a product of the Oak Ridge community,” said Orange County District 3 Commissioner Mayra Uribe. “Being born and raised in Sky Lake and an Oak Ridge High School alumni, I believe in this community and all of its potential.”
With two universities awarding degrees nearby, including Orange Technical College – Mid Florida Campus and Florida College of Integrative Medicine, major industries in Oak Ridge include educational services, health care and social assistance, as well as arts and entertainment, retail, construction and manufacturing. The neighborhood’s ideal location – near downtown Orlando, International Drive and the Mall at Millenia – provides a variety of job opportunities for residents.
“When you work with families on a daily basis like I do, you identify the strengths of the community,” added Allen. “In Oak Ridge, residents are resilient, family-oriented and loyal to one another. When there’s a crisis of any kind, the community comes together and people are there to support each other. You can’t ask for anything more than that from your neighborhood.”
To learn more about Oak Ridge, visit the local Neighborhood Community Center for Families by visiting www.ocfl.net/NCF.
Photo Caption: 2019 Scholar Society at Oak Ridge High School