Adoption

Adoption 4

The gift of a forever family.

After seeing the struggles of abused children, the Cooks wanted to make a difference by adopting kids into their home. Their first child, Abbagail, came to them as a shy, quiet three-year-old who was hesitant to interact with others. She had witnessed domestic violence and survived sexual abuse. The Cooks also welcomed Ricky into their home. At the time he was an 18-month-old baby boy who had been neglected by his mother after she, being very young and unprepared herself, was unable to take care of him.

Through the Cooks’ gentle care and unconditional love, both children have flourished. Abbagail has blossomed into a very intelligent and happy girl who loves participating in cheerleading, soccer, and dance. Ricky is now an active little boy who has developed a sweet, energetic personality. He loves interacting with other people, adults and children alike.

The Cooks have truly demonstrated how the healing power of family can transform the lives of children like Abbagail and Ricky. Though there have been challenges along the way, the Cooks have committed to being loving parents to Abbagail and Ricky, and have given them the gift of a forever family.

Thankful on a Pumpkin

Thankful on a Pumpkin

Thankful on a Pumpkin

Luis, 3, was in the back seat of his mom’s car when it was hit by a drunk driver. Tragically, Luis’ mother passed away in the hospital, and Luis’ two siblings also suffered injuries. After his father was arrested for drunk driving months later, Luis was brought to Olive Crest and welcomed into a host family. Luis felt safe there.

Every Thanksgiving, Luis’ foster family does an activity called thankful pumpkins, where everyone takes a sharpie and writes what they are thankful for on a pumpkin. The other kids wrote down things like “family,” “my home,” “toys,” etc. Luis wrote, “That I am safe.”

What are you thankful for this year? As we celebrate this time of year let us pray for those who are hurting, in need, and without a safe home. We are thankful for your continued support as we work towards strengthening, equipping, and restoring children in crisis… “One Life at a Time.”

Transitional Age Youth

Transitional Age Youth

Moving on

17-year-old Roger is ready to leave Olive Crest. The two and a half years he spent here may have saved his life.

Roger didn’t grow up in a comfortable suburban home. His family was transient. More often than not, they lived in a van. He and his brothers and sisters never got a chance to settle in at one place before they were packing up and moving on to another. With his father in prison, and as the oldest among five siblings, he tried to be a father figure for his family. But the pressure of trying to take care of his siblings soon got him and by the time he was 14, he was in juvenile courts.

Roger was tough. But at Olive Crest he was able to channel his determination towards bettering his life, not just surviving. He pushed himself to complete Olive Crest’s educational and job training programs. He found a job. He dug in at school and got excellent grades. He played junior varsity football and he made friends with his teammates and classmates. He helped his siblings find their way to Olive Crest as well.

Roger is ready to move on. He has a life he’s eager to get to.

Safe Homes

Safe Homes 3

“DON’T SEND ME HOME”

Its takes something extraordinary to make a child say “Please don’t send me home.” But that was Ben’s request. And for good reason. For this helpless 6-year-old, home was a place where, day after day for years on end, he was sexually molested by a family member. Home was where he was afraid to cry for help and terrified to dream. Thankfully, somebody caught on.

Today Ben lives with a loving Olive Crest family, in the first place he has ever experienced normalcy, love, safety, and healing. He is energetic and affectionate. He is making friends with other children. Slowly but surely he is learning to trust grown-ups. Now, Ben is able to dream again.

The Truth About “Aging OUT”

The child welfare system is designed to keep kids out of harm’s way but was never intended to raise children or equip them for life. Because of this, thousands of young people are thrown back into the world as soon as they turn 18, unprepared, alone, and without a support community to help navigate the challenges of independent living.

This MEANS

  • 60% of foster youth will become homeless the day they age out of the child welfare system. 20% will end up on the street or in shelters, and the other 40% will “couch surf” for years.
  • More than 23,000 children will age out of the US child welfare system every year.
  • As many as 60-70% of people lured into human trafficking come from the child welfare system.
  • Only half of kids in the child welfare system will have gainful employment by the age of 24.
  • Less than  50% will graduate high-school and only 3% will earn a college degree.

WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT

With your help Olive Crest continues to provide counseling, education, and mentoring for teens and young adults in crisis, working around the clock to not only house these young people, but also help them transition into healthy adulthood.

The generous financial support, time, and resources of our Olive Crest community ensures that those who graduate from our programs are stable, safe, and have the life skills needed to be healthy and productive. From personal hygiene, to understanding health insurance. From understanding public transportation to getting and keeping a job. From dealing with roommates, to dealing with lifelong trauma. But most important of all, together, we ensure that they are connected to a stable and healthy support community.

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.