Andrew’s Story

Andrew's Story

 

At the age of 9 Andrew was in a gang and addicted to methamphetamine. He felt trapped in a cycle of abuse and abandonment and didn’t see any better vision for his future aside from what was happening around him.

By age 14, Andrew was homeless. Living on the streets was a rough experience and included anything he could think of to survive. He remembers stealing food, spending restless nights “sleeping” on chairs inside laundromats, and stealing cars when he ran out of options. This would have ended tragically for Andrew, as it does for thousands of children, if it wasn’t for an unlikely recommendation.

While serving time in prison Andrew was introduced to Olive Crest. Olive Crest taught Andrew discipline and trust. For the first several months he resisted any guidance or leadership. But over time he grew to believe that this was his “last chance” and it wasn’t to be wasted. He became equipped to harness his natural leadership ability, to grow in maturity, and eventually to hope for more. Now almost done with college, Andrew has been working as a manager for two years.

He is approaching his final semester having achieved all A’s and B’s in his coursework up to this point. When asked what he wants to do someday, he laughs and says, “Sitting at an office all day is not for me, I want to chase something bigger, get paid for the work I put in. I know I have charisma and am a natural leader, and so I want to chase deals, and make it on my own.” Then after a moment of quiet reflection he adds earnestly “…and help people, people like me who have no hope.”

“I could talk to you all day about what Olive Crest has done for me. They’ve taught me to mature and become a man, and to care about being a leader. I thought I would be on my own when I “aged out” of the system, but they gave me the opportunity to get a place of my own, pay rent, and grow a savings account. I’ve been running my whole life; now I feel like I can finally stop running.” – Andrew

Medically Fragile Foster Child Wants To Swim

Sammy

 

Born with Downs Syndrome and a heart condition, Sammy relies on a permanent IV to his heart that supplies him with essential medication. Water can damage the IV and put Sammy at risk, so he’d never even been able to take a traditional bath. At five years old, he didn’t understand why he couldn’t play in the water with his friends and siblings.

Through Tailor Made, Sammy was gifted a specially made dry suit that would keep his IV safe and dry while he was in the water. Thanks to the new suit, Sammy was finally able to have his first swim!

 

Watch Sammy swim for the first time!

 

Olive Crest’s Tailor Made program provides foster children with enriching activities that help them grow into their unique and wonderfully made selves. For Sammy, this looked like a special dry suit so he could experience swimming for the first time. For other kids it may look like art classes, karate lessons, or instruments to play music. Each of these gifts aim to nurture creativity and joy in each child in ways that are best suited to them as individuals.

James Experiences the Healing Power of Family

 

James was in second grade when he first went to live with a safe family. At the time, his mother, Sandra, was having difficulty making ends meet
and navigating some complex stressors of life such as unexpected tax payments and job loss. She had been raised in an abusive household and
experienced neglect herself, so when James’ father also started becoming aggressive, she sought help.

James and his two-year-old brother, Joshua, loved being with their safe families. Due to a series of unstable circumstances, the boys were cared for by three different Olive Crest families over the years. Even in all the turmoil, they were able to experience the stability of a loving home environment. More than that, these young boys experienced what it meant to have a father.

“They taught me the kinds of things that dads are supposed to teach you,” James recalls. “Things that honestly sound like no big deal, but they really mean a lot. How to shave, how to throw a ball, how to not give up when you get knocked down…I’m just so grateful to God for them.”

It was not easy, especially in the midst of COVID-19, but with the ongoing support of his three families, James finished high school at the top of his class and was accepted into Arizona State University. Although he received scholarships and financial aid, there was a gap which prevented James from attending his dream school. Amazingly, all three of his “safe family dads” came together and agreed to fund his education.

James will enter college this fall thanks in large part to the investment his safe families have made and continue to make in his life. He’s excited about decorating his dorm room, making new friends, settling into college life, and the endless possibilities he now sees for his future. “I’m not afraid of things getting tough again because I know that I have people to call. My life hasn’t been the easiest but I know that my parents will drop everything to help me if I need it. I grew up thinking the word ‘father’ was a bad thing, but now I want to be like these guys I’ve learned from. I hope to someday become a dad to my kids, just like they have been to me.”

The Davis Family is Restored

The healing power of God, family, and community.

 

Having lost both their jobs due to COVID in 2020, with 3 kids at home, and resorting to alcohol to numb destructive patterns of anxiety, the Davis family needed help—but had no one to depend on. Within months, this already fragile family found themselves living in their car and unable to provide for their most basic needs. They knew that they needed a safe home for their children, so they reached out to Olive Crest.

 

With the help of our Church Partners, and by mobilizing our community of professionals and volunteers, the Davis children stayed with John and Darleen and were cared for while their parents got the help they needed.

 

“It’s just a God gift,” Sarah Davis said. “Every day, we talked to our kids on the phone. We knew how they were doing, what they did that day.”           

                      

“John and Darleen would text us constantly, sending us photos, just to let us know that everyone was fine. Honestly, more than anything, I think this is what gave us the strength to get through it!”

 

“It is such a privilege to be entrusted with these children while their parents are getting their lives back together,” John recalled. “I cannot think of a better way to love these families than through the local church.”         

                                

Darleen added, “I was at church, and they were talking about this ministry. The model just made sense with what we were reading in scripture. Families like mine could be there for families who needed help and had no one else to turn to. And not just families, the church community as a whole! People who we barely knew would come around us and provide what we needed to take care of these kids…anything from clothing to meals. If that’s not God’s plan to take care of ‘the least of these’ I don’t know what is.”

 

Today the Davis family has been healed and restored. Both parents are employed and have a comfortable apartment that their 3 kids can call home. They have a new family in John and Darleen, and, most encouraging of all, because of the remarkable support they received from the entire church family, they have dedicated their lives to faithfully following Christ.

Sam is safe with a strong family

Same is Safe with a Strong Family
Seven-year-old “Sam” was neglected, physically and emotionally abused, and exposed to domestic violence. In October of 2020, Sam was removed from his home by Child Protective Services. His grandmother, in her loving desire to help Sam, came forward and was approved as his caregiver.

 

Grandma had wonderful intentions to help Sam, but soon became overwhelmed. She was referred to Olive Crest, and immediately, she was overwhelmed in a totally different way—by support, care, and individualized attention. This much needed assistance was offered by Olive Crest’s Kinship Program, which exists for people exactly like Sam’s grandmother.

 

In a safe home, with one-on-one emotional support, counseling, and strategies to address his needs, Sam started to heal.

 

Then in November, close relatives came forward, welcoming Sam into their family. Even after this, Olive Crest’s support didn’t stop. Working with staff members, Sam was equipped with strategies to express his hurt and anger in ways which allowed him to heal, rather than pushing people away.

 

His new foster family learned to model these techniques, and by understanding the triggers that caused Sam’s outbursts of rage they can reinforce care and support. The amazing result is that Sam is learning to be a little boy again. Sandi, Sam’s foster mom, said it best: “The thing you don’t realize about kids who have been hurt so much is that they don’t know what normal looks like. It was scary at first, but Olive Crest helped us see past the tantrums and manipulation, to see that we had a hurt, little boy who just wanted to be loved.”

 

Sam is making steady progress. He can positively express his emotions and self-regulate his behavior. Counseling support has started to scale back, and his school participation is improving. He enjoys bike riding, skating and lots of active play, which not only helps him release anxious energy, but allows him to just have fun.

 

Grandma is grateful to “just” be grandma. Sam’s foster parents have grown in their ability to care for him. And most importantly, Sam is safe with a strong family.  

Teresa is Equipped for Life

“I had no place to call home, no connection… I was truly alone.”

 

Teresa and her six siblings all grew up in the foster care system. Being moved around from home to home, until at age 18 when she aged-out of foster care and was on her own. Literally. Through tears she recalls, “I had no place to call home, no connection…I was truly alone.”

When Teresa heard about Olive Crest’s transitional age housing program, she thought she had won the lottery. A nice place, with nice furniture, all on her own…and best of all—free! She quickly realized that there was a lot she needed to learn. Once she realized that the staff really cared about what she did and how the rest of her life would go, she decided that this was the start of a life she had never dreamed possible.

Teresa felt a calling to give back to those who never had a chance at a future. Those who, like her, were all alone. During her time in transitional housing, she earned dual degrees in Human Services and Criminal Justice and went on to earn a master’s degree in Social Work. After being promoted to Social Services Program Manager, she reached out to us to share the good news.

“I wanted to take the time to say thank you,” She writes. “Olive Crest was definitely my family while transitioning from foster youth to adulthood.”

Teresa is so passionate about the impact that Olive Crest has made in her life that she wants to continue that legacy by equipping youth who experience trauma to become healthy and productive.

Teresa is a beautiful and inspiring example of what can happen when hurting kids experience love, safety, and are equipped for life.

Veronique Fleury—wife of VGK goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury—discusses involvement with Olive Crest

A recent After the Buzzer article on NHLPA.com (National Hockey League Players’ Association) featured Veronique Larosee Fleury, wife of Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc Andre Fleury. Veronique, a champion for Olive Crest, discussed her involvement with our passionate community of friends and families dedicated to stopping child abuse, and equipping kids for lifelong success. We are honored at the mention and look forward to many years of partnership.

https://www.nhlpa.com/news/1-22119/after-the-buzzer-veronique-larosee-fleury 

Veronique Fleury, Marc Andre Fleury, and Family
Feature Photo: Instagram / @vlaroseefleury

Teacher Adopts Student through Olive Crest

Kitsap teen is beating the odds

 

Angelica wants to be a hairdresser someday. But due to a life of turmoil that led her into foster care, Angelica’s literacy skills were extremely low, making it very hard for her to succeed academically.

 

Upon entering Olive Crest’s program for older foster youth, Angelica was matched with a staff mentor. She worked closely with her mentor to improve her literacy. Olive Crest also provided Angelica with a laptop when the pandemic hit and school moved online.

 

Many foster teens in our community face similar issues. And for those graduating from high school, they’ll need the skills to successfully transition to independence.

 

This year, Olive Crest is excited to be participating in the Kitsap Great Give, hosted by Kitsap Community Foundation.  The donations Olive Crest received help high schoolers like Angelica to gain the essential life skills that they need to be healthy and independent adults.

 

Angelica is on track to graduate high school in June. Her abilities to read and write independently have greatly improved and her grades are the best they’ve ever been. Angelica is planning to complete an Esthetics/Cosmetology program in the fall to follow her dreams of being a hairdresser.

Teen mother finds refuge with Safe Families

“I left in a thin pair of pants, a t-shirt, and a pair of flats in the snow, with my baby bundled up in his car seat and his diaper bag.”

 

Amanda was only a teenager when she found herself fleeing an abusive relationship with her six-month-old baby. Without a stable place to go, Amanda needed help.

 

Through a mentor from church, Amanda learned about Olive Crest’s Safe Families program. Amanda contacted Safe Families and she and her son were placed with a host family. The host family encouraged Amanda to attend school and create a parenting plan for her baby. The family cared for her emotionally and spiritually.

 

“I felt and saw love in ways I didn’t know I needed, drew closer to God, and graduated high school.”
 

Amanda’s story could’ve ended very differently- only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma before they turn 22. Because of Safe Families, Amanda is now stable and thriving.

 

Since leaving her host family, Amanda has moved into an apartment of her own and works as a paraeducator for her school district. She hopes to become a teacher and will be continuing her education at a local college in the spring.

 

“Safe Families helped my life in a time when I needed it the most. God’s timing was right and his promise to rescue me was true” – Amanda