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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
Your support provides fun—and educational—activities for Olive Crest kids. Some of the kids in our Inland Communities group home even write, edit, and publish their own newsletter. A recent article, excerpted below, talks about experiences at Forest Home Christian camp this past summer:
We went to Forest Home to extend our faith for God…When we were at the lake there was a giant water slide which was really fun to go on and there was pedal boarding…which was a blast to do…I saw a bear….and everyone came running…and the bear was scared so it ran away. I would [go back again] because it was the best experience that I ever had.
Thank you for giving generously, so our kids can have life-changing experiences like this one—the best experience this teen has ever had!
Here’s a great way to make your grocery shopping easier and support Olive Crest at the same time: Buy a reusable Olive Crest bag at your favorite store. The bags are now offered at Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions, Northgate Markets, Gelson’s, and Numero Uno — and 8 cents from each bag purchased is donated directly back to Olive Crest.
It’s a great way to support Olive Crest’s work in your community. Look for the Olive Crest bags in your neighborhood store, and help us move toward our goal of ending the cycle of child abuse and neglect.
You probably already know that Smart & Final is a great place to shop for quality groceries at great prices. But did you know that the company’s management and employees care very much about the children and families in the communities they serve? Case in point, this summer they presented a $400,000 check to Olive Crest from their most recent in-store mobile campaign! This fantastic donation will greatly impact the children and families of Olive Crest. We can’t thank Smart & Final enough for their passion and contribution to the ongoing fight against child abuse.
Mickie Sharp-Villanueva and Dave Grosse from The Performance Group have been selected as the 2018 Ambassador for the Children award recipients. These outstanding individuals were honored at our recent An Education for Every Child luncheon, where they were praised for their “strong servant leadership and selfless dedication to Olive Crest and the families that are supported.” Their personal investments and service for over 20 years has greatly impacted the children and families we serve. Thank you, Dave and Mickie! What a blessing you are!
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