From April 1–12, our partners at Food4Less and Foods Co. raised awareness and funds to support Olive Crest through our Child Abuse Stops Here® campaign. Customers were given the opportunity to donate at checkout to help abused children find safe, loving homes. Nearly $202,000 was raised through the generosity and compassion of our local community members.
This will mean hundreds of children’s lives will be transformed, and the cycle of abuse will be broken. Thank you to our partners and donors for seeing the need and being a part of the solution!
Summer has always been a special season for Scott and Aubrey, who met at a Christian summer camp when they were teenagers. Fast forward a few years — they still make the most of the summer months now with their six adopted children.
None of these kids got off to a good start in life, but you wouldn’t know it when you see how happy they are now. Siblings Angelina and Jameson (ages 13 and 12) were abandoned at a public beach by their mother, who had serious mental health issues. And Jackson was horribly abused. Before Aubrey and Scott took him into their home, he had been in the hospital for two weeks with nine broken ribs and two brain bleeds. Aubrey’s voice drops to a whisper as she thinks about what he endured. She can’t stand thinking about what her little boy went through. The youngest three were left at the hospital after they were born to mothers with substance abuse issues.
With Olive Crest’s help — and yours — the Ashfords have loved these children back from the brink.
Surrounded by Prayer
There are also two foster children, Jason and Hudson. Hudson, who is 6 months old, was welcomed into the family several months ago and has been hospitalized several times since then. He has a number of health issues related to his birth mother’s addictions and his premature birth. Doctors are currently running tests to determine the best course of treatment to keep him healthy and strong. Meanwhile, the family is active in their church, and Hudson is surrounded by prayer.
Aubrey says she has known from the time she was a little girl that she wanted to adopt children someday, but she also wanted kids of her own. That wasn’t to be. After nine years of marriage and a number of fertility treatments, she discovered she could not conceive. Of course, this was deeply painful, especially for a woman who loved and wanted children. “But God had already planted the idea of adoption in my mind, so I felt He was preparing for me to adopt.”
The Ashfords first heard about Olive Crest through a promotion at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. Then when they called a friend in the Los Angeles area to ask for a recommendation, she also mentioned Olive Crest. Aubrey says, “It was faith-based, which meant a lot to us.”
She adds, “Olive Crest is so great! From the very start, they have been so supporting and comforting. If there’s anything we need, I can call them, and they are totally ready to help.” She starts naming all the people at Olive Crest who have been such a help to her. “There’s Christy…and Jessica…and Patty….”
She recalls one time when she was in the hospital with Hudson, who was in isolation. “Patty showed up with a Starbucks for me…put her mask and her gown on and sat and visited with me for a long time. We talked and prayed and laughed together. It was just phenomenal!”
When asked if she has one favorite memory of her experiences as an adoptive mother, Aubrey says, “There are so many.” After thinking about it for a moment, she says, “A few months after we adopted Angelina, she and I were alone one day, and I asked her how she was doing. She was only a little girl, but she said, ‘I’m good. You know, I really like having you as my mom. You make me feel safe and loved, and I’m getting all my needs met.’ How could I ever forget something like that?”
How indeed? Thank you for making such moments possible for children like Angelina, and moms like Aubrey. Every day, you are ensuring kids are getting the love and safety they so desperately need.
On May 5, more than 260 attendees gathered at the Riverside Convention Center for this year’s Pick a Purse, which boasted the theme of “Sparkle & Dream.” Guests spent a fun afternoon with a lunch provided by Chef Brad Martin, a powerful testimonial from foster mom Cathi Stark, and of course, a lot of purses! Everyone coming to our annual Pick a Purse event leaves with a brand new purse, and this year was no exception!
Special thanks to all our sponsors and attendees, including Presenting Sponsor Holstrom, Block & Parke; and Chic Tote sponsors HUB International, and Dermatology & Plastic Surgery Specialists. Generous attendees and sponsors helped raise more than $65,000 in support of our local services. We look forward to seeing you next year!
Thanks to some giving volunteers at Century 21 Experience, some of our group home boys with broken bikes now have perfectly running bicycles!
Watch out Tour-racers: Some boys at our group homes can really give you a run for the money! Thanks to Century 21 Experience, these kids learned how to repair bikes that hadn’t been ridden for far too long. Flat tires…fixed! Broken chains…we got that! And after the boys learned how to tune up the bikes, they received the biggest surprise of all: Century 21 Experience gave each of them a brand new bike of their own and a celebratory BBQ meal. With their new skills, they will be able to keep their bikes in tip-top shape and hone their cycling abilities. The sky’s the limit with their potential….With your help, these kids can do anything! Could the Tour de France be next? Thanks, Century 21!
Several times over the past year, Olive Crest’s Chaplaincy program* has worked to hold periodic “Food for Thought” meetings with young adults ages 18 to 22 preparing for life as self-sufficient adults. They are invited to dinner and discussion about a topic related to successful independent living (e.g., anger management, dating, honesty/integrity, school shooting, finances).
It is amazing to see young adults open up about their dreams, values, fears and plans for the future. Without fail, the group offers great insight beyond the discussion points prepared by the staff leading the discussion.
These young adults are survivors and are intelligent! When given a little nudge in a positive direction, we learn that they are very thoughtful and aware that their decisions greatly influence their success in life.
This is one of countless efforts taking place with children, youth, adults and families at Olive Crest. And we are grateful that through your support we can continue to truly “Make a Difference, One Life at a Time!” ®
*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.
We are overwhelmed by the generosity of our donors this Easter, who made it possible for every one of our kiddos in the Inland and Desert Communities to get an Easter basket (more than 439, to be exact). All of the Easter baskets were brought to us assembled by our community partners, which made this an extra special outpouring of love and support. Thank you to Waxie, Wells Fargo, Michael Sullivan and Associates, Summit Water of Life, Sandals Church, and all of our individual volunteers who made this possible!
We also would like to say a special thank you to Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, for donating 1,800 Easter eggs for a special Family Fun Day on April 17 for our families getting family crisis intervention. This day in the Desert Communities was filled with fun and laughter for many Olive Crest families! The Easter Bunny even came to spend some time with our kids! Every little one left with a painted face, a belly full of tacos and snow cones, and a smile.
Because of all your compassion, Olive Crest kids had a happy, fun Easter. Thank you!
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.
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.
Did you know some children have gone their whole lives without celebrating the joy of Easter? You can make a big difference for kids and families this spring by donating during our Easter basket drive for Olive Crest children and teens. We can only do it with the support of compassionate donors like you!
Please drop off a pre-filled Easter basket (or baskets) at an Olive Crest location near you.
02/26/2019 – 04/12/2019 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
2130 East 4th St., Suite #200, Santa Ana, CA 92705
For a list of Easter basket themes and ideas, click here.
For additional information, contact the Community Involvement department at 714.543.5437, x1290, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
03/04/2019 – 03/29/2019 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
17800 Woodruff Ave., #F, Bellflower, CA 90706
Find out more about the Los Angeles Easter basket drive here.
Diana with her boyfriend, Jorge, and Nicko the dog.
It took me 25 years to finally be able to really, really appreciate Olive Crest.
I hated the structure, the well-balanced meals, the grading system that determined our rewards and consequences…most of all, I resented the staff. I blamed them for everything!
I know most of us kids shared more than being “in the system” in common. It was a much deeper connection and bond we had. We were all so broken. Speaking for myself, there was never known such things as a healthy, balanced diet or dinner time…shoot…some of us were lucky to even have a warm meal or meal at all.
We didn’t come from a family or support group that motivated us to do better and rewarded us with a weekly allowance, or field trips. Most of us were ignored, rejected, and had to bring money home, rather than to expect our families to actually spend money on us.
Currently, as a more mature, middle-aged mother of two children, people that have gotten to know me constantly ask “how did you turn out so normal?” I chuckle because I don’t think “normal” is the right adjective or question… The right question should be “Where did you learn how to be more ‘normal’?”
The answer is Olive Crest.
Olive Crest instilled in me the things I would’ve never learned from my dysfunctional and broken background. From teaching me the simple things like how to set a dining room table, use a steak knife, have a balanced meal, say please and thank you, do my own laundry and prepare a meal. When we got in trouble or grounded, it was always followed by a reason and explanation of the mistake committed, the consequence and the lesson.
Olive Crest showed me what the tradition of Christmas and gifts were, as I had never celebrated one when I arrived as a teenager. I remember experiencing my first baseball game, hockey game, and movie theater with Olive Crest, due to the donations they would receive. The best was when we were invited to attend Christian camp in Hume Lake, where I first realized believing in God and bonding with others was actually fun!
I can never thank God enough for putting Olive Crest in my life. For creating such a strong, organized, powerful organization that consists of individuals that really do care and taught me so much, that I am able to apply it all to my adult life and successfully raise two children: my son, a sophomore at Northern Illinois University, and my daughter, a high school freshman.
Thank you, Olive Crest, for making a difference in my life, making me the woman I am today.
With love and appreciation, Diana Alvarez
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