Nearly 2,000 Families Line Up for Drive-Thru Grocery Donations During the COVID-19 Crisis

Nearly 2,000 Families Line Up for Drive-Thru Grocery Donations During the COVID-19 Crisis

In times like these—when workers are being laid-off and children no longer have school lunches—it can be uncertain where a family’s next meal will come from. That’s why on March 26, cars were lined up for blocks to get into the parking lot at Olive Crest in Orange County—all filled with families hoping to pick up groceries generously donated by supporters.

Nearly 2,000 Families Line Up for Drive-Thru Grocery Donations During the COVID-19 Crisis 3    Nearly 2,000 Families Line Up for Drive-Thru Grocery Donations During the COVID-19 Crisis 1

Retailers in the grocery industry are regular supporters of Olive Crest—and they generously stepped up to donate more than 50 pallets of food. Families were notified through flyers and social media, and flocked to the drive-thru event.

Many cars driving through represented multiple families with many children at home, and they were gifted with an unexpected hot lunch from an In n’ Out—another supporter graciously helping out families.

Nearly 2,000 Families Line Up for Drive-Thru Grocery Donations During the COVID-19 Crisis 2   Nearly 2,000 Families Line Up for Drive-Thru Grocery Donations During the COVID-19 Crisis 4

After six hours, 3,000 bags of groceries were gifted to families in need. More than 60 dedicated Olive Crest staff lent a helping hand to the drive-thru efforts.

“In these challenging times, it is a gift to serve our vulnerable Olive Crest Families,” said Jennifer Halliburton, Church Engagement and Community Involvement Director for OC in Orange County. “We are especially grateful for our church and community partners who continue to give sacrificially to support safe children and strong families.”

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Jenny was desperately seeking safety: “I ran away from home for the first time when I was nine”

Jenny was desperately seeking safety: “I ran away from home for the first time when I was nine”

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.

God's Plan for Jenny

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.”

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Safe Families for Children Dinner raises $150,000 to keep families together

Safe Families for Children Dinner raises $150,000 to keep families together and vulnerable children of the foster care system

Sadly, with the changing economy, many more families are experiencing financial crisis, unemployment or homelessness. Others are dealing with family violence, parental drug and/or alcohol abuse, illness, or incarceration. During such crises, many parents are not capable of providing a safe and caring environment for their children. Today, many families are socially isolated and their extended family is non-existent or not available. The children in a family traumatized by crisis become especially at risk for neglect or abuse as their parents struggle to cope with crushing circumstances and emotions. Often leading them to be placed within the foster care system.

Thankfully through Olive Crest’s Safe Families for Children program (SFFC), parents experiencing a temporary crisis can arrange for their children (newborn through 18 years) to stay with Safe Families for Children volunteers while they address the issues that led to the instability in their lives. And on October 10, 2019 a Safe Families for Children annual dinner was held at The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana to raise funds for these Orange County Safe Families initiatives.

9 year old Isaiah, accompanied by his mom Shakara, welcomed everyone to the dinner. For a time he, along with his siblings, were hosted by a Safe Family host family while his mom was in the hospital. Keeping his family together during a time of family transition. Special attendees and honorees also included Frank and Nancie Carpenter, Olive Crest’s very first Safe Families host family (2012).

We are so thankful for families like theirs who continue to open their homes and hearts to families in need. It is through them and safe families like yours that Early Intervention, Child Abuse Prevention, and Family Support and stabilization can be provided.

If you would like more information about becoming a temporary host family through Safe Families for Children or receiving support for your family through SFFC click here.

The Power of One Community Luncheon Raises $20,000 to Meet the Needs of Orange County’s Children in Crisis

The Power of One Community Luncheon Raises $20,000 to Meet the Needs of Orange County’s Children in Crisis

Keynote speaker, Jason Weber, the National Director of Foster Initiatives for CAFO speaks on “Moving the Barn.”

Each year, The Power of One “friend-raising” event through Olive Crest in Orange County highlights the importance of coming together to end the foster care crisis in our communities. And this year was no exception. On October 16, 320 guests joined Olive Crest CEO Donald Verleur and staff in honoring Saddleback Church, Ingram Micro, and Olive Crest adoptive parents Scott and Aubrey Ashford at the Newport Beach Country Club.

In line with this year’s theme, Jason Weber, author and National Director of Foster Initiatives for CAFO (Christian Alliance for Orphans), enjoined the crowd to “move the barn” of the foster crisis. He told the story of a farmer in Nebraska in the late 80’s, explaining how instead of simply reacting to at-risk children and families, attendees can be more proactive and band together to help families in need.

We are so grateful for every individual who helped raise more than $20,000 for local at-risk children, teens, and families by attending. And we’re grateful for partners like Saddleback church (which continues to pioneer ministry addressing needs of children in foster care) and Ingram Micro (whose staff has diligently volunteered and partnered with Olive Crest to meet the needs of families in crisis for nearly three decades).

Through The Power of One Community and supporters like you, we can continue to meet the needs of children in foster care and in crisis in Orange County.

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Olive Crest Teens Develop Meaningful Connections Through Consistent Volunteer Chaplains*

Volunteer chaplains make a difference through teens by building their faith—and having fun, too, at events like a Hair Cuts and Salon Day.

Chaplain Frank Fried has been helping kids and teens at Olive Crest for more than 30 years—and shares how volunteer chaplains can make a huge difference:

For the last couple of years, God has used one of our Orange County volunteer chaplains to make a huge impact in the lives of six teen girls: young girls who have faced, and still face, many life challenges.  And as they approach adulthood, their Olive Crest group home seeks to prepare them for the life responsibilities that lie ahead. 

Over time, through regularly showing up to support Olive Crest kids and teens, one volunteer chaplain has crossed paths with a dozen or more girls in the group home that she visits at least once a week. A huge blessing is the fact that our teen gals have been able to connect with and be greatly blessed by members of our volunteer’s local church.

Whether it be through a Ladies Night Out (LNO) with her “church ladies,” a Hair Cuts and Salon Day provided by a salon owner, participating in a fundraising car wash to benefit another Chaplaincy volunteer’s summer missions trip, or many other one-on-one connections that have blessed Olive Crest teen girls, having a trusted consistent adult in their lives (who is not a paid employee) is such a Godsend!

Read more of Chaplain Frank Fried’s full article about “More Blessed to Give Than Receive.

*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.

A Forever Family for Ruby

Ruby Photo


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.

Tommy Bahama event raises $190,000 to help provide families for kids

Tommy Bahama event raises $190,000 to help provide families for kids
Soleil, who is a part of Olive Crest’s programs, next to her original artwork, which went up for auction.

For the 20th consecutive year, Tommy Bahama Restaurant and Store put on its annual Pacific Coast Classic Dinner and Golf Tournament to benefit Olive Crest.

The dinner, hosted at Tommy Bahama’s fabulously remodeled coastal location in Newport Beach, featured a live auction and an immersive experience giving guests an opportunity to walk in the shoes of a teen aging out of the system.

The golf tournament, held at Monarch Beach Golf Links, welcomed 148 golfers. The two events raised over $190,000 for Olive Crest.

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Hundreds “Pick a Purse” and Help Stop Child Abuse

Hundreds “Pick a Purse” and Help Stop Child Abuse

Last month, more than 450 women and men from the grocery industry came together to support Olive Crest children and families. They enjoyed an afternoon filled with hundreds of purses, raffle prizes, and accessories up for grabs for a great cause: Olive Crest Food Industry’s 2nd Annual Pick-a-Purse event!

Beyond the fun and excitement of picking out a purse to take home, there was a strong reminder of the why behind this event. The testimonial from a young woman named Evi brought people to tears as she shared how Olive Crest stepped in and helped her find a forever family amongst her challenging upbringing with an abusive father and (often) absentee mother.

Dina Serrano (Ralphs), Rita Cabot (Norco Ranch), and Mickie Sharp-Villanueva (The Performance Group) made this incredible event come to life for all who attended. Thank you to all of the sponsors, vendors, and supporters who attended as we continue toward the goal of a strong family for every child. Child Abuse Stops Here®.

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A Night of Bowling and a Priceless Time for Foster Families to Connect

A Night of Bowling and a Priceless Time for Foster Families to Connect 9

Developing meaningful relationships can be one of the most challenging aspects of being in the child welfare system. It’s a whole new world for parents and kids alike, a time when both need a lot of family and community support. Thanks to Ingram Micro, Olive Crest in Orange County was able to do just that on Tuesday, August 6. Ingram Micro graciously hosted a bowling night for 20 Olive Crest foster families and a host of Olive Crest staff at Irvine Lanes.

A wonderful evening for all, Olive Crest and 20 Ingram Micro volunteers took over nine lanes that evening. Each family was welcomed by an Ingram Micro volunteer who gave them a customized water bottle, pencils, pencil sharpeners, and candy. They also provided bowling shoes, two hours of bowling, and volunteers to help little ones bowl, along with a splendid dinner of pizza, salad, fruit and drinks. It was an awesome way for Olive Crest families to connect with each other and develop critical relationships within the foster community.  Olive Crest Adoptions Supervisor, Jennifer Oei, said, “We truly felt spoiled and we are incredibly grateful for Ingram Micro’s generosity.”

Earlier this year, Ingram Micro donated proceeds from their annual golf tournament toward Olive Crest children and families, as well. As a way to say thank you, kids at Olive Crest created a “fingerprint tree” during a support group to give to Ingram Micro.

Thank you to Ingram Micro and all who support children and families at Olive Crest.

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Students at Olive Crest Academy Enjoy a Newer Spruced-Up Learning Environment

Students at Olive Crest Academy Enjoy a Newer Spruced-Up Learning Environment

Transform a school and you are likely to transform the lives of many students! Through the hard work of 130 wonderful Orange County RSM volunteers, Olive Crest Academy now has a fresh start for the 2019-2020 school year!

On August 2, 2019, RSM LLP commemorated their second year volunteering with Olive Crest (and their 10th year volunteering as organization, “A Decade of Doing”). Last year, more than 70 RSM staff worked to refurbish one of Olive Crest’s group homes. This year, they repainted, cleaned, and spruced-up classrooms, purchased and installed new furniture and desks, disposed of old furniture, beautified landscaping, and so much more! Additionally, RSM will make a financial donation to Olive Crest for every hour volunteered (608 total hours this year).

For students who may have difficulty focusing, learning, and believing they can, an uplifting atmosphere makes a world of difference. Thanks so much for all of your support over the years, RSM! Your hard work won’t go unnoticed by the students and staff at Olive Crest Academy.

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