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.
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.
Among the guests and staff were (left to right) Carrie Brock, Trustee; Kyle Houlton, Associate Director of Development; Tim Bauer, Executive Director of Development; and Kristina Morales, Trustee (all with Olive Crest in Orange County).
On the evening of Friday, April 12, more than 400 guests packed the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort for an evening of fashion and philanthropy. The occasion was Olive Crest in Orange County’s first ever Wine Women & Shoes fundraising event. The ladies enjoyed shopping, wine-tasting, socializing, and a fabulous fashion show — all for the benefit of Olive Crest’s children and families. More than $170,000 was raised to support our mission to stop the cycle of child abuse, keep vulnerable children safe, and restore at-risk families!
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.
Summer is just about here, and our kids and teens need your help! Join us by participating in our Get out of the House Drive. For many kids, summer is a season of being isolated, depressed, and vulnerable to negative influences and abuse. But with your help, they can feel safe, and engage in normal life-affirming summer activities, expanding their worlds and inspiring possibility. Today, you can support our kids by providing opportunities to attend concerts, theme parks, shows, attractions, fairs…anything you can think of that will help to get them out of isolation and into the community! For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org today or visit www.olivecrest.org/donate for online donations.
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.
Thanks to volunteers at Eastside Church, our group homes and Olive Crest Academy now feel even more welcoming to kids and teens.
On March 9, more than 75 volunteers from Eastside Church spent an entire day sprucing up Olive Crest Academy and our teen group homes. They painted, replaced artwork and banners, and repaired rain damage at the Academy. The team also installed new closets at one of our other properties. These improvements and repairs will help our teens and students stay organized and focused on the road ahead, feeling confident that the community is supporting them. When the community surrounds children in crisis with practical support, they know they are valued and can achieve a rich and productive future. Thank you to all of you who bless our kids!
Orange Theory Fitness has donated weightlifting benches, balance trainers, medicine balls, and much more to the weight room for high school students at Olive Crest Academy in Orange County. The students are “pumped” to have up-to-date equipment, so they can train for upcoming sporting events.
Empowering abused and neglected kids to become emotionally and physically whole is priceless. Thanks, Orange Theory Fitness, for seeing the potential in our kids!
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.