A Letter From an Olive Crest Kid — Diana Alvarez, Former Resident Teen

A Letter From an Olive Crest Kid — Diana Alvarez, Former Resident Teen, Olive Crest, group home, at-risk, kid, teenager

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

Kids and Families in Los Angeles are Thankful…for You!

Kids and Families in Los Angeles are Thankful…for You!

The holiday season may officially be over, but we are still overflowing with gratitude for all the ways the Los Angeles community showed at-risk children and young adults that they are loved. From the youngest little one to the oldest teen and young adult, we pray that a sense of hope, love, and family is felt in the hearts and minds of all involved in this special kind of joy.

Olive Crest in Los Angeles Holiday Party

Thank you to Park Crest Christian church, who not only hosted more than 200 Olive Crest kids & families for our annual Christmas party but also provided 31 volunteers. Every child went home with a gift and was given the opportunity to participate in fun activities and get their pictures taken with Santa. SoCal Helpful Honda even came bearing fun gingerbread houses for everyone to put together and take home. What a special day!

Operation Independence Christmas Party

We also can’t say thank you enough to all the churches that came together for our Christmas party for Olive Crest teens and young adults. On December 23, they gathered at Olive Crest in Los Angeles to enjoy a Christmas party crafted just for them! So many blessings took place this day!

  • Praise Church West Covina, Impact City, and Eastside Bellflower provided scrumptious food, cookies, hot cocoa and coffee for the evening.
  • Chung and Laura from King’s Church provided $40 Target Gift cards for all the Olive Crest young adults.
  • Oasis LA provided them with a $50 gift card and gift bags.
  • 7th Street Campus provided additional gift cards to really bless our youth.

We are encouraged that long past the swell of the season, this impact will be felt. Thank you for helping Olive Crest put smiles on so many faces! We couldn’t do it without you!

Countless Families were Blessed by Your Giving Over the Holidays!

Countless Families were Blessed by Your Giving Over the Holidays! 2

No child deserves to feel unloved or forgotten on Christmas. So from giving a single gift to adopting an entire family, members of the Olive Crest community outdid themselves during the 2018 holiday season! Through our annual Be the Miracle campaign, thousands of toys, gift cards, and Christmas wishes were granted for Olive Crest kids and families. For example:

  • In Los Angeles, 47 families in our Adopt-a-Family program received day-to-day necessities as well as gifts they otherwise would not have been able to purchase.
  • In the Desert and Inland Communities, generous donors like Agape Salon; Cypress Wealth Services; High Tower Advisors; Holstrom, Block & Parke; the Grove Church; and Monster Energy contributed to Be the Miracle. Plus, Toyota of Riverside, Hub International, and the City of Riverside went even further to bring joy by sponsoring specific families.
  • Kids in the Pacific Northwest wore bright smiles when they received hundreds of gifts donated from churches, companies, and individuals in the community. Special thanks to all the volunteers who helped make sure Be the Miracle events ran smoothly, as well as those from New Life Church. One foster mom mentioned, “It was special to celebrate with ‘sister families’….It was wonderful to see so many foster-friends who have given us supplies, prayed for us, or encouraged us along the way. It was a family reunion of sorts!”

 

Because of your compassion, Christmas was special for thousands of children and teens who need to know that someone cares, that they are important, and that their dreams matter. Thank you!

Families in the Los Angeles Area Receive “Boxes of Love”

Families in the Los Angeles Area Receive “Boxes of Love”

Olive Crest families received non-perishable food items, plus a gift card, thanks to Pacific Crossroads Church.

We love Pacific Crossroads Church in Los Angeles! They generously donated 50 food boxes for our families. Each box was filled with non-perishable food items and included a $25 gift card to Ralphs, so the recipient family could purchase a turkey or ham. This was such a blessing to so many families and is just one example of how donor support helps meet urgent needs for Olive Crest families.

Hey Jones Day, Look at Us Now!

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Jones Day law staff paints bright wall art.

All of us at Olive Crest’s Los Angeles office are delighted with our beautiful new office update, thanks to one of our trustees, Erin Burke, and her amazing team at Jones Day Law Firm! On November 11, more than 60 volunteers, including the families of the Jones Day staff, spent the day revamping our Bellflower office, painting, putting furniture together, and so much more to make our offices more inviting. We can’t thank you enough, Jones Day! We’ve always had a great place to work, but you’ve made it even better.

It’s Easy to Support Kids and Families!

It’s Easy to Support Kids and Families!

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.

Smart & Final Shows Compassion for At-Risk Kids and Families

Olive Crest, kids, at-risk kids, at-risk children, families, Smart & Final, donate

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.

 

Thank You for Putting Big Smiles on Little Faces

Olive Crest, FoodFinders, Sprouts, groceries, donate food, Los Angeles

All of us at Olive Crest are so grateful for donors like you who put smiles on kids’ faces! We’re giving a special shout-out to Food Finders and Bellflower Brethren Church for their time and generosity. Thanks to these generous folks, Olive Crest families will now have access to free nutritious food on a weekly basis. Food Finders – an organization that links donated food to pantries and shelters in order to bridge the hunger gap in our communities – made the connection with Whole Foods 365 in Long Beach and Sprouts in Lakewood to deliver fresh veggies, fruit, bread, and other basics to all of our programs each week.

And in other news, Bellflower Brethren Church provided 10 volunteers to repaint our child care room where little ones can play while their moms and dads are in parenting classes, group support, or counseling. We are so thankful for the blessing of donors like you who give so generously to help kids and families become healthy, productive citizens. Smiles all around!

 

Let’s Hear It for the Ambassador for the Children Award Winners!

Let’s Hear It for the Ambassador for the Children Award Winners!

 

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!

Donors and Volunteers Make All the Difference

A big thank you to Foodfinders and Bellflower Brethren Church for their time and generosity!

Donors and Volunteers Make All the Difference

Olive Crest families will be provided with food on a weekly basis because Foodfinders connected us with Whole Foods 365 in Long Beach and Sprouts in Lakewood. Basic needs such as food are essential to improving lives!

Donors and Volunteers Make All the Difference 1

Bellflower Brethren Church provided 10 volunteers, who helped clean our gift room and repaint the child care room. Our child care room is used while parents are in parenting classes, group support, and therapy. An organized workplace makes for comfortable meetings and accomplishing tasks efficiently!

We are so thankful for our donors and volunteers—you make a difference in so many lives.