In times like these—when workers are being laid-off and children no longer have school lunches—it can be uncertain where a family’s next meal will come from. That’s why on March 26, cars were lined up for blocks to get into the parking lot at Olive Crest in Orange County—all filled with families hoping to pick up groceries generously donated by supporters.
Retailers in the grocery industry are regular supporters of Olive Crest—and they generously stepped up to donate more than 50 pallets of food. Families were notified through flyers and social media, and flocked to the drive-thru event.
Many cars driving through represented multiple families with many children at home, and they were gifted with an unexpected hot lunch from an In n’ Out—another supporter graciously helping out families.
After six hours, 3,000 bags of groceries were gifted to families in need. More than 60 dedicated Olive Crest staff lent a helping hand to the drive-thru efforts.
“In these challenging times, it is a gift to serve our vulnerable Olive Crest Families,” said Jennifer Halliburton, Church Engagement and Community Involvement Director for OC in Orange County. “We are especially grateful for our church and community partners who continue to give sacrificially to support safe children and strong families.”
Support for Olive Crest children and families goes a long, long way. Transforming lives comes in all shapes and forms, from helping at-risk kids directly to supporting them indirectly through undergirding volunteer families and resource families when they take them in. All of this ensures that Olive Crest kids not only have safe and loving homes, but stable, loving homes. It truly takes a village to raise and support children. And stability and permanency are key factors in minimizing the trauma children experience when they cannot be with their birth family for a short or long period of time.
So when Rooted Ministries out of Southwest Church in Indian Wells (in the Desert Communities) brought items that will bless children and host families in the Safe Families for Children program, we were amazed. Their donation will allow several local churches to collectively support Safe Families for Children efforts in their community. And because of Rooted Ministries, these local churches can provide host families with diapers, formula, or gift cards to help meet the kids’ needs.
The items, from stuffed animals to school supplies, will benefit kids of all ages. This year, Rooted Ministries particularly focused on older teens to make sure that would have the school supplies they need to thrive.
We’re ever grateful to the families that open their homes to at-risk children through Safe Families for Children, and we are also grateful for partners like Rooted Ministries that support the entire family through this process. It’s all worth it to ensure that more families are able to stay together in the end.
Opening your home to children in need as a foster family or safe family can bless children and parents alike: like Jesse and Shannon Thompson who learned about becoming a Safe Family for at-risk children from another host family at their local home school group. Through Olive Crest’s Safe Families for Children program (SFFC), parents experiencing a temporary crisis can arrange for their children (newborn through 18 years) to stay with Safe Families for Children volunteers while they address the issues that led to the instability in their lives. (The goal is to keep children out of the child welfare system.)
The Thompsons later inquired with Olive Crest and went through the application process. Once approved, they started hosting children in need of temporary care right away. And they continue to serve as a host family with Safe Families for Children through Olive Crest in the Desert Communities.
Their son Jadon also wanted to give back in some way. So he chose Olive Crest as his charity to donate birthday gifts he received from his friends at his 10th birthday party. We’re grateful to the Thompson family for opening their home to serve the community—and to Jadon for using his birthday to help strengthen children and families.
Giving back and helping those in need will often not only make an impact in the lives of those in need, but will have a lasting impact on many. Thank you to families like the Thompsons for opening their homes and hearts to Olive Crest kids.
It’s such a blessing to see how connections bring so many unexpected blessings to Olive Crest children and young adults. Here’s just one example . . .
Together We Rise is an organization committed to improving the lives of children in foster care. They do this by collaborating with individuals, companies, and community partners who are willing to share their resources.
Recently, Together We Rise donated 22 new bicycles to Olive Crest. These bikes will be a great help to our 18- to 20-year-old young adults. Many cannot afford a car and must use other transportation, like the bus. These bikes will allow them to go to class or work without having to rely on others. Plus, bikes are inexpensive to own and don’t need gasoline.
You never know how and when Olive Crest kids will receive a special blessing.
One of Jenny’s earliest memories was going into her parents’ room and discovering her dad beating her mother. “He had her down on the floor and was pounding her with his fists,” Jenny recalls. “Her face was all bloody.”
When Jenny’s parents divorced, things didn’t get much better. Jenny and her sister stayed with their mother. “She was a mean drunk,” Jenny remembers.
Desperately seeking safety
Home was not a safe place for Jenny. “I ran away from home for the first time when I was nine,” she said. Over the next few years, she ran away several more times.
Eventually, by God’s grace, Jenny wound up at Olive Crest. She experienced love and kindness for the first time. She even had her first birthday party there.
Just before she turned 13, Jenny went to summer camp. It was here that Jenny heard about the love of Jesus and was baptized in the lake. She was thrilled with her new life.
A new family for Jenny
Jenny’s experience in an Olive Crest home had a dramatic impact on her. This time helped shape the rest of her life, ins
tilling in her a sense of community and values. She learned that God loved her, and she began to trust people again.
Today, Jenny is married to a loving man named Tony. She gives Olive Crest much of the credit. “Olive Crest gave me so many tools for living a healthy life, and I will be forever grateful.”
Sadly, with the changing economy, many more families are experiencing financial crisis, unemployment or homelessness. Others are dealing with family violence, parental drug and/or alcohol abuse, illness, or incarceration. During such crises, many parents are not capable of providing a safe and caring environment for their children. Today, many families are socially isolated and their extended family is non-existent or not available. The children in a family traumatized by crisis become especially at risk for neglect or abuse as their parents struggle to cope with crushing circumstances and emotions. Often leading them to be placed within the foster care system.
Thankfully through Olive Crest’s Safe Families for Children program (SFFC), parents experiencing a temporary crisis can arrange for their children (newborn through 18 years) to stay with Safe Families for Children volunteers while they address the issues that led to the instability in their lives. And on October 10, 2019 a Safe Families for Children annual dinner was held at The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana to raise funds for these Orange County Safe Families initiatives.
9 year old Isaiah, accompanied by his mom Shakara, welcomed everyone to the dinner. For a time he, along with his siblings, were hosted by a Safe Family host family while his mom was in the hospital. Keeping his family together during a time of family transition. Special attendees and honorees also included Frank and Nancie Carpenter, Olive Crest’s very first Safe Families host family (2012).
We are so thankful for families like theirs who continue to open their homes and hearts to families in need. It is through them and safe families like yours that Early Intervention, Child Abuse Prevention, and Family Support and stabilization can be provided.
If you would like more information about becoming a temporary host family through Safe Families for Children or receiving support for your family through SFFC click here.
Keynote speaker, Jason Weber, the National Director of Foster Initiatives for CAFO speaks on “Moving the Barn.”
Each year, The Power of One “friend-raising” event through Olive Crest in Orange County highlights the importance of coming together to end the foster care crisis in our communities. And this year was no exception. On October 16, 320 guests joined Olive Crest CEO Donald Verleur and staff in honoring Saddleback Church, Ingram Micro, and Olive Crest adoptive parents Scott and Aubrey Ashford at the Newport Beach Country Club.
In line with this year’s theme, Jason Weber, author and National Director of Foster Initiatives for CAFO (Christian Alliance for Orphans), enjoined the crowd to “move the barn” of the foster crisis. He told the story of a farmer in Nebraska in the late 80’s, explaining how instead of simply reacting to at-risk children and families, attendees can be more proactive and band together to help families in need.
We are so grateful for every individual who helped raise more than $20,000 for local at-risk children, teens, and families by attending. And we’re grateful for partners like Saddleback church (which continues to pioneer ministry addressing needs of children in foster care) and Ingram Micro (whose staff has diligently volunteered and partnered with Olive Crest to meet the needs of families in crisis for nearly three decades).
Through The Power of One Community and supporters like you, we can continue to meet the needs of children in foster care and in crisis in Orange County.
Volunteer chaplains make a difference through teens by building their faith—and having fun, too, at events like a Hair Cuts and Salon Day.
Chaplain Frank Fried has been helping kids and teens at Olive Crest for more than 30 years—and shares how volunteer chaplains can make a huge difference:
For the last couple of years, God has used one of our Orange County volunteer chaplains to make a huge impact in the lives of six teen girls: young girls who have faced, and still face, many life challenges. And as they approach adulthood, their Olive Crest group home seeks to prepare them for the life responsibilities that lie ahead.
Over time, through regularly showing up to support Olive Crest kids and teens, one volunteer chaplain has crossed paths with a dozen or more girls in the group home that she visits at least once a week. A huge blessing is the fact that our teen gals have been able to connect with and be greatly blessed by members of our volunteer’s local church.
Whether it be through a Ladies Night Out (LNO) with her “church ladies,” a Hair Cuts and Salon Day provided by a salon owner, participating in a fundraising car wash to benefit another Chaplaincy volunteer’s summer missions trip, or many other one-on-one connections that have blessed Olive Crest teen girls, having a trusted consistent adult in their lives (who is not a paid employee) is such a Godsend!
Read more of Chaplain Frank Fried’s full article about “More Blessed to Give Than Receive.”
*Our Chaplaincy program at Olive Crest serves addresses and encourages the religious/spiritual needs of Olive Crest staff, as well as the children and families we serve. All Chaplaincy-related efforts are completely voluntary and receive no government funding.
200 riders arrived at Paramount Ranch after driving from Bartel’s Harley-Davidson in Marina Del Rey.
Everyone can do something to stop child abuse. What’s your something? Last month, more than 200 riders took to the streets of Los Angeles to raise awareness and funds to end child abuse in their community. And it was a powerful sight to see. (Last year, 50 riders participated.)
The police-escorted ride from Bartels’ Harley-Davidson in Marina Del Rey to Paramount Ranch raised a little over $20,000 for our 2nd Annual Ride for the Children motorcycle event. This support will go a long way to fund child abuse prevention, adoption services, and family resources through Olive Crest in Los Angeles.
Special thanks to Oltmans Construction, Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys, Harley-Davidson of Glendale, Bartels’ Harley-Davidson, Putnam & Smith, and Sanders & Wohrman Corporation for making a great day of live music by Aces & Eights, raffle prizes, and BBQ possible. And to Grand Marshals Lorenzo Lamas, Perry King, and Dave Ekins for helping make this year’s ride a huge success!