Orange Theory “Pumps Up” Students to Work Out in Style

Orange Theory “Pumps Up” Students to Work Out in Style 1

Orange Theory Fitness has donated weightlifting benches, balance trainers, medicine balls, and much more to the weight room for high school students at Olive Crest Academy in Orange County. The students are “pumped” to have up-to-date equipment, so they can train for upcoming sporting events.

Empowering abused and neglected kids to become emotionally and physically whole is priceless. Thanks, Orange Theory Fitness, for seeing the potential in our kids!

“Thank You for Helping to Change the Course of My Life.”

Helen Says, “Thank You for Helping to Change the Course of My Life.”

At 24 years of age, Helen is one of those amazing people who seems to have it all. She is bright, happily married, and is starting her own business. And she’s a gifted artist — a talent that seems to come naturally to her.

Spend a little time with her, and you’re bound to come away asking yourself, “Is there anything this young woman can’t do?”

And yet, there was a time when she felt like she couldn’t do anything.

In the Shadow of Addiction

Sadly, when Helen was a child, her parents battled drug addiction. She and her younger brother were denied the loving attention that every child craves. Living in the shadow of her parents’ substance abuse, her early childhood was full of uncertainty and fear — she was shifted in and out of state foster care, separated from her baby brother, and struggling to understand what was going on.

Helen was full of potential…but as is often true of children growing up in unstable, abusive, or neglectful homes, her potential was stifled by fear and a lack of encouragement.

By Helen’s freshman year of high school, her family lost their home and her mom went to jail. When she was finally released, sadly, she relapsed. The family ended up living in a motel, struggling to make ends meet.

Undone by the Trauma

For Helen, this seemed like the final blow. She says that she and her little brother were “undone by the trauma of it all.” She says, “I was so exhausted from being in this constant state of survival and uncertainty.” She was deeply depressed and had lost her will to live. “My childhood best friend had just ended his life less than a year before this time, and the hopelessness I was experiencing led me to want to end my life, as well.”

On the night Helen was planning to end her life, a woman living in the motel reached out to her, feeling compelled to encourage her. The woman shared her own story with Helen and shared about God’s love, which was something Helen desperately needed to hear.

It was just the nudge Helen needed to find the courage to keep going. Filled with hope, she chose to live her life to share God’s love, as well. She prayed that God would provide a safe place for her and her brother to live, and soon, Olive Crest learned about Helen’s situation. She and her brother were placed together with a loving family, giving her mother an opportunity to get support, as well.

She had never experienced anything like the love and stability her Olive Crest family gave her. They were firm, but kind. They kept her to a schedule, helped her with her homework, and made sure she had food, clothing, and all the basic necessities to succeed in school and heal from her past. Helen says, “Our lives were being completely transformed. I remember hiding away in the bathroom, weeping with gratitude and relief. We had three meals a day, a safe, loving home, rides to school, new clothes, and a second chance at a childhood.”

Helen had a lot to work through, but leaning on God, her Olive Crest family, and her new community, she graduated high school with a 3.9 GPA — after starting with a 0.5 GPA. Her artistic talent blossomed, bringing her acclaim within her school and community. She earned an associate’s degree in child development from Saddleback College, and a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership for Christian ministry from Simpson University. Today, Helen is married, and is launching a business selling products she designs and that benefit foster children. She is also a frequent speaker at schools, churches, and other community groups.

Stories like this are only possible because of generous friends like you.

A Heart Full of Gratitude

Helen’s heart is beyond grateful for caring supporters who have reached out through Olive Crest to help impact and change the course of her life forever. She says that when she was married in July of 2018, she “was surrounded by all the Safe Families that my brother and I lived with in high school and even in college.” This is her “forever family” that she will always treasure.

More Help for Young Adults is on the Way

More Help for Young Adults is on the Way

Our West Sound office in the Pacific Northwest will soon launch a residential housing model for our Independent Living Services program. This transitional housing program will benefit young adults from 18 to 21, who are transitioning from the system to living independently. During their stay, they will build independent living skills, establish employment and educational goals, and work toward sustainability. The goal of the program is to help these young men and women develop the skills and achieve the income they need to live independently. We are deeply grateful for generous friends like you who are making it all possible!

What a Blessing for Our Olive Crest Boys!

What a Blessing for Our Olive Crest Boys!

Our Riverside group homes have been greatly blessed, as four area churches have agreed to adopt one of the homes! Once a month, each church group attends dinner and an evening of fellowship with the boys, who have grown to eagerly await this time of community. Dinner, playing board games, and basketball are just some of the fun activities enjoyed by all. Bonding in a positive atmosphere with caring people goes a long way to help kids heal. Thank you to all these special churches — and to everyone involved in transforming lives at Olive Crest.

Volunteering in Orange County is Easier with VolunteerHub

Volunteering in Orange County is Easier with VolunteerHub

We’re excited to announce VolunteerHub, a new way to easily find and sign up for all upcoming volunteer opportunities at Olive Crest. You can be a childcare volunteer to support our foster and kinship families, be a guest speaker encouraging teens aging out of the child welfare system at one of our workshops, become a mentor, and so much more!

It’s easy to sign up. Just click here. We look forward to seeing you here at Olive Crest!

Basic Needs Met Through In-Kind Donations

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In-kind donations can make a world of difference! Here, Ronic Tatum, Darylyn Farris, and Nia League of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Cerritos Alumnae Chapter, drop off baby items.

Do you ever wonder how you can get involved, and help abused and neglected children, and at-risk families? Well, consider providing for a family or child’s basic needs. These simple things all contribute to preventing abuse and keeping families stable. We want to give special thanks to some special supporters in Los Angeles: Girl Scout Troop 4006 for putting together 100 hygiene kits, Delta Theta Sigma for collecting pull-ups and baby wipes, and Girl Scout Troop 16085 for building a new bookshelf and donating books to our Family Resource Center. You are making a life-changing difference in our community!

Time Out for Foster Parents in the Pacific Northwest

Time Out for Foster Parents in the Pacific Northwest

Crafts and other activities for kids at a Foster Parent Night Out event allowed foster parents an evening of respite support, thanks to Crossroads Bible Church and the National Charity League.

If you are a foster parent, you know this truth: It’s incredibly rewarding…and incredibly hard. At Olive Crest, we know it’s not only important to care well for the children in our care, but also the families who are serving and sacrificing to help these precious children heal. Kids from abusive and traumatic backgrounds need so much, and it takes parents going well beyond the extra mile to build trust, instill new truths, and give consistent love to help children heal from the wounds already inflicted.

One of our supporting churches in the Pacific Northwest, Crossroads Bible Church, understands this, as well. Recently, 42 foster children from Olive Crest families were hosted at the church for Foster Parent Night Out: a full evening of activities, including basketball, crafts, movie time, and dinner provided by the National Charity League. The moms and dads took that time to recharge at the movies, at home, or a dinner out to catch up on quality time together. We are so grateful for the generous community of churches and volunteers who support our Olive Crest families, so they can be the best possible parents to fragile and healing children.

Pastor’s Luncheon Tackles Los Angeles Child Welfare Crisis

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Attendees knelt in prayer at the luncheon to ask for guidance in making a difference for children in Los Angeles County.

At the end of January, 330 pastors and church leaders gathered at the Dream Center in Los Angeles to discuss the county’s out-of-control foster care crisis. The largest child welfare population in the country, more than 34,000 children are currently in the Los Angeles County system. The theme of this 2nd Annual Greater Los Angeles Pastor’s Luncheon was mobilizing church congregations to be a significant part of the solution. Anne Moore , Ministry Lead and Foster Parent, Parkcrest Church; Barbara Sunofsky, Families Pastor, Long Beach Christian Fellowship; Dr. Matt Jones, Pastor, Del Rey Church; Jen Toledo, Pastor, Expression 58; and Geremy Dixon, Pastor, Center of Hope shared what’s possible, based on how their churches are engaging in this effort. Nick Vujicic, guest speaker from Life without Limbs, called church leaders to take action, and Bobby Cagle, Director of Children and Family Services in Los Angeles County, affirmed the urgency for the community to get involved.

Thank you to the Dream Center, Stonefire Catering, Pacific Crossroads Church, Hope for LA, America’s Christian Credit Union, and Storyville Coffee for the support and contributions toward this event. To find out more about how your church can get involved, contact Rebekah Weigel at rebekah-weigel@olivecrest.org.

Grocery Partners Gather to Support Olive Crest Kids

Grocery Partners Gather to Support Olive Crest Kids

Enjoying the gala, left to right: Jim Beauvais, SVP Marketing and Merchandising, Albertsons/Vons/ Pavilions; Lori Beauvais; Donald Verleur, CEO, Olive Crest; Hillary Verleur; Dr. Donald and Lois Verleur, Founders, Olive Crest; Bryan Kaltenbach, President, Food4Less; and Mary Kaltenbach.

On February 9, over 300 food industry professionals with a heart for abused children gathered at the Grove in Anaheim for a remarkable Broadway-esque evening. This first Grocery Industry President’s Gala honored Bryan Kaltenbach (Food4Less), Mike Mortensen (Smart & Final), and Jim Beauvais (Albertsons) as past and present Food Industry Round Table presidents, a group formed to partner with Olive Crest five years ago. More than $350,000 was raised to support Olive Crest’s mission to end child abuse forever. Guests were treated to live Broadway acts throughout the evening, as well as testimonials from Olive Crest kids.

A Special Valentine’s Day Treat for Olive Crest in Los Angeles

A Special Valentine’s Day Treat for Olive Crest in Los Angeles

Did you have a Happy Valentine’s Day? We sure did! On that special day of love, our LA office received a welcome visit by members of the Cerritos High School National Honor Society, who created beautiful Valentine’s Day cards to encourage the children and families we serve. The result was dozens of happy smiles from our kids and families. Thanks to the Cerritos National Honor Society and all of you who share your love with us — not only on Valentine’s Day but all year long.