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.”
Foster parents gathered for a day of self-care especially for them.
This summer, Olive Crest children enjoyed an afternoon together, playing and doing arts and crafts while their foster parents were treated to a fully hosted luncheon at Mezzo Bistro and Wine in Las Vegas. These types of special events allow the parents to have a well-deserved break for a few hours to enjoy some self-care.
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.
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 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 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.
Myesha Wilson, Executive Director of Olive Crest in Nevada (left), starts her rappel to help raise money to benefit Olive Crest children and families.
A tip of the Olive Crest hat to all those who turned out to make our Second Annual Drop to Stop Child Abuse event a huge success. Daring adventurers rappelled down the side of Caesars Palace on the Strip, all to help children in need. Our goal, of course, is to join hands with caring people like you and end child abuse forever.
A competitive highlight of the evening came when a number of Olive Crest executives raised money by taking part in the “Toss Your Boss” event. And if you don’t know what that means, come to the third annual event next year and find out! Thanks to all who attended and helped raise over $40,000 to benefit at-risk children and families in Nevada.
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.