100 Teens Wrapped in Support This Summer

100 Teens Wrapped in Support This Summer

Staff from Olive Crest in the Inland and Desert Communities gather together to help support the teens they work with.

Isolation, past abuse, and poor coping skills can be stressors that leave teens hanging in the balance and vulnerable to abuse during the summer months. And sometimes just a day away from the stress of everyday life to connect with other teens and mentors can make a world of difference.

Thanks to caring community partners like The Grove Community Church, this past August, 100 Inland and Desert community teens from Olive Crest were able to do just that! The church provided a wonderful event filled with water games, flag football, arts and crafts, and some delicious food.

But it wasn’t all fun and games! We are grateful for the opportunity to expose teens (who may have difficult family backgrounds and who need to heal) to ways to build positive relationships, learn more about themselves, and learn how to “self-regulate” their emotions during these times.

Thanks to supporters like you, we are able to continue to wrap these teens in encouragement and support this summer and all year long.

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Gimbel Foundation Helped Brianna Go to College!

Gimbel Foundation Helped Brianna Go to College! 1

Brianna, one of our Olive Crest teens, is now stretching her wings all the way to San Francisco State University! Having graduated from her local community college, where she received scholarship support through the Gimbel Foundation, Brianna is a shining example of what can be accomplished through Olive Crest’s program for transitional-aged youth.

Rose Welch, Lead Independent Living Skills Coach, says, “Brianna has a wonderful spirit and has taken the tools learned, and sowed these in herself and other clients. I am excited for her.” After her first-ever plane flight to attend the new student orientation and a whirlwind tour of San Francisco, Brianna is more than ready to continue to stretch her wings and see what the future holds.

We are so proud of you, Brianna! And we are so grateful for generous friends like you who make all the difference for youngsters like Brianna through your faithful, generous support of Olive Crest.

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110 Families Get Ready to Help Foster and Adoptive Children

110 Families Get Ready to Help Foster and Adoptive Children

From the Olive Crest team at Wait No More: Thank you to everyone who came to the event to support children and families!

So many children still need forever homes—and this past May, at a very special event, 110 families took the first steps toward fostering or adopting a child, or to support families getting involved.

Focus on the Family hosts the Wait No More event, which was held on May 18 this year at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California. Focus on the Family partners with organizations and churches to put together one-day events to make it easier for foster and adoptive children to find permanent homes. Families at this year’s event could choose from 19 foster care services to work with—and we are so grateful for 43 families that registered with Olive Crest to make a difference for children and families.

Thank you to these families and all supporters helping transform the lives of kids and teens every day.

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Grocery Shoppers Donate More Than $200,000 to Stop Child Abuse

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!

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A Strong Family Transforms Six Precious Lives

A Strong Family Transforms Six Precious Lives

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.

You Made Pick a Purse 2019 a Success!

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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!

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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!

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Inland Empire Teens Get New Bikes…Just in Time for Tour de France!

Inland Empire Teens Get New Bikes…Just in Time for Tour de France!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!

“Food for Thought” Prepares Young Adults for the Future

“Food for Thought” Prepares Young Adults for the Future

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!” ®

See Chaplain Frank Fried’s full article about “Food for Thought.”

*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.

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Thank You to Everyone in the Inland and Desert Communities Who Helped Make Easter Special!

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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!

“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.

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

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.

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