13-year-old Jenny (second from left) and her Olive Crest housemates
One of Jenny’s earliest memories was going into her parents’ room and discovering her dad beating her mother. “He had her down on the floor and was pounding her with his fists,” Jenny recalls. “Her face was all bloody.”
When Jenny’s parents divorced, things didn’t get much better. Jenny and her sister stayed with their mother. “She was a mean drunk,” Jenny remembers.
Desperately seeking safety
Home was not a safe place for Jenny. “I ran away from home for the first time when I was nine,” she said. Over the next few years, she ran away several more times.
Eventually, by God’s grace, Jenny wound up at Olive Crest. She experienced love and kindness for the first time. She even had her first birthday party there.
Just before she turned 13, Jenny went to summer camp. It was here that Jenny heard about the love of Jesus and was baptized in the lake. She was thrilled with her new life.
Jenny (now) with her husband and children
A new family for Jenny
Jenny’s experience in an Olive Crest home had a dramatic impact on her. This time helped shape the rest of her life, ins
tilling in her a sense of community and values. She learned that God loved her, and she began to trust people again.
Today, Jenny is married to a loving man named Tony. She gives Olive Crest much of the credit. “Olive Crest gave me so many tools for living a healthy life, and I will be forever grateful.”
200 riders arrived at Paramount Ranch after driving from Bartel’s Harley-Davidson in Marina Del Rey.
Everyone can do something to stop child abuse. What’s your something? Last month, more than 200 riders took to the streets of Los Angeles to raise awareness and funds to end child abuse in their community. And it was a powerful sight to see. (Last year, 50 riders participated.)
The police-escorted ride from Bartels’ Harley-Davidson in Marina Del Rey to Paramount Ranch raised a little over $20,000 for our 2nd Annual Ride for the Children motorcycle event. This support will go a long way to fund child abuse prevention, adoption services, and family resources through Olive Crest in Los Angeles.
Special thanks to Oltmans Construction, Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys, Harley-Davidson of Glendale, Bartels’ Harley-Davidson, Putnam & Smith, and Sanders & Wohrman Corporation for making a great day of live music by Aces & Eights, raffle prizes, and BBQ possible. And to Grand Marshals Lorenzo Lamas, Perry King, and Dave Ekins for helping make this year’s ride a huge success!
Olive Crest in Los Angeles Community Involvement Coordinator Nick King discusses the Fall Fest event with employees at Southern California Edison.
Each year, the Fall Festival at Olive Crest in Los Angeles helps children and families celebrate Halloween. During the time of year when kids and teens often go to extravagant events, parties, and theme parks, this festival (of games, prizes, and family-friendly entertainment) allows Olive Crest families to make special memories in a safe environment and without a financial burden.
This fall, about 100 Southern California Edison (Compton) employees showed up for an epic company cook-off to help make it all possible (along with Olive Crest staff and volunteers). It all started when Luis Ortiz, a Planning Supervisor at SCE, began planning their yearly cook-off event. After researching local organizations to support through the event, he felt Olive Crest was a perfect match. And the rest, they say, is history!
We are so grateful for Southern California Edison and their staff for helping Olive Crest surpass its $800 goal and raise $1,220 through one great cook-off meal.
Everyone truly can do something to help at-risk kids…even while enjoying a good meal.
For Ruby, memories of a childhood home were a vacant house her parents broke into. “It was not the kind of place where anyone should live,” said Ruby.
A heartbreaking childhood
Ruby survived on things like sour milk. She slept on a mattress on the floor, without sheets or anything to cover her when nights were cold. Her parents were addicted to drugs and alcohol, so she was often fending for herself.
By the time Ruby was 6 years old, she was caring for two baby sisters: Stephanie, who was 1, and Jessica, who was an infant. She remembers being so hungry she sometimes ate the powder that was supposed to go into their formula.
Then one day, a neighbor saw that the girls were outside, poorly dressed and barefoot, and called for help. That very day, the girls were removed from their home.
Ruby spent the next few years in and out of seven homes. “I was always angry,” she says, “and I took it out on the parents and the other kids.”
But finally, she was connected to Olive Crest.
Ruby’s forever family
One day, Ruby heard her Olive Crest parents talking about adopting her. “That’s when I knew they weren’t going to love me less because I was acting up.”
To Ruby’s delight, her family later adopted Jessica. Stephanie was also adopted by an Olive Crest family, and the sisters all see each other at least once a month.
Ruby is so thankful for her wonderful new family—and friends of Olive Crest, like you.
At Play 60, Olive Crest kids participated in several NFL-style drills.
This past summer, the Los Angeles Chargers put on a football camp for Olive Crest called Play 60. The purpose of the camp is to encourage youth to be active at least 60 minutes a day.
As a generous partner, the Chargers also blessed Olive Crest in many other ways. Like providing auction items at almost every Olive Crest event—typically footballs signed by the players. And inviting Olive Crest youth to come out to their summer training camp. Activities like this encourage health and wellness, and provide at-risk kids with experiences that inspire hope and possibilities.
On May 2, Jones Day in Los Angeles hosted A Magical Evening of Hope benefitting the children and families of our Olive Crest community, which raised more than $68,000. It was truly a magical night of mingling and enjoying unreal views of downtown from Jones Day’s suite as well as entertainment provided by Los Angeles’ most skilled illusionists. Guests also learned more about how to get involved in stopping child abuse and how its prevention can dramatically impact issues in our communities like human trafficking, homelessness, and drug abuse.
Our thanks to all our volunteers and Jones Day for making this magical event possible!
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!
Laura, shown here with her little ones, uses her creativity to make a difference in her community.
On Saturday, June 1, Laura Izumikawa, social media phenom, author, and mother of two, hosted her 2nd annual Playdate Project event benefitting Olive Crest at the Southern California Children’s Museum. Reaching out to her 660,000 followers on Instagram, Laura invited folks to sign up for this year’s event. Dozens of families and their guests, as well as over 40 stylish vendors of child and family-related products and services, gathered for a day of crafts, activities, and just plain silliness, all while learning more about the realities of child abuse in our country…and how to stop it.
Laura first heard about Olive Crest through some friends who were in the process of adopting a child. And after learning more about the enormous need to provide abused and neglected children with safe, loving homes, she decided to get involved.
Laura partners with a company called Apolis to create eco-friendly bags — and over Easter weekend, she donated $5.00 from each bag sale to benefit Olive Crest kids and families.
Using her platform on social media, Laura has helped spread awareness about child abuse prevention and what Olive Crest is doing to put an end to it for good, helping Olive Crest gain more supporters and expand services to even more vulnerable children and families in crisis.
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.
At-risk high school seniors had senior portraits gifted by Danie Henry and her professional photography team.
For the 7th straight year, Danie Henry and her team of photographers gave Olive Crest’s high school seniors free portraits. Twelve seniors gathered at Rancho Los Alamitos Historic Ranch and Gardens to capture this memorable time in their lives. Each senior enjoyed a professional photo shoot, a personalized photo book, and a flash drive containing all of the photos.
You and supporters like Danie and the folks at Rancho Los Alamitos are helping vulnerable teens in our community by encouraging them and surrounding them with love. Simple things like having access to senior portraits bring hope and possibility to these kids. Thank you to all who stand with us to support them!