Teresa is Equipped for Life

“I had no place to call home, no connection… I was truly alone.”

 

Teresa and her six siblings all grew up in the foster care system. Being moved around from home to home, until at age 18 when she aged-out of foster care and was on her own. Literally. Through tears she recalls, “I had no place to call home, no connection…I was truly alone.”

When Teresa heard about Olive Crest’s transitional age housing program, she thought she had won the lottery. A nice place, with nice furniture, all on her own…and best of all—free! She quickly realized that there was a lot she needed to learn. Once she realized that the staff really cared about what she did and how the rest of her life would go, she decided that this was the start of a life she had never dreamed possible.

Teresa felt a calling to give back to those who never had a chance at a future. Those who, like her, were all alone. During her time in transitional housing, she earned dual degrees in Human Services and Criminal Justice and went on to earn a master’s degree in Social Work. After being promoted to Social Services Program Manager, she reached out to us to share the good news.

“I wanted to take the time to say thank you,” She writes. “Olive Crest was definitely my family while transitioning from foster youth to adulthood.”

Teresa is so passionate about the impact that Olive Crest has made in her life that she wants to continue that legacy by equipping youth who experience trauma to become healthy and productive.

Teresa is a beautiful and inspiring example of what can happen when hurting kids experience love, safety, and are equipped for life.

Veronique Fleury—wife of VGK goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury—discusses involvement with Olive Crest

A recent After the Buzzer article on NHLPA.com (National Hockey League Players’ Association) featured Veronique Larosee Fleury, wife of Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc Andre Fleury. Veronique, a champion for Olive Crest, discussed her involvement with our passionate community of friends and families dedicated to stopping child abuse, and equipping kids for lifelong success. We are honored at the mention and look forward to many years of partnership.

https://www.nhlpa.com/news/1-22119/after-the-buzzer-veronique-larosee-fleury 

Veronique Fleury, Marc Andre Fleury, and Family
Feature Photo: Instagram / @vlaroseefleury

Teacher Adopts Student through Olive Crest

Kitsap teen is beating the odds

 

Angelica wants to be a hairdresser someday. But due to a life of turmoil that led her into foster care, Angelica’s literacy skills were extremely low, making it very hard for her to succeed academically.

 

Upon entering Olive Crest’s program for older foster youth, Angelica was matched with a staff mentor. She worked closely with her mentor to improve her literacy. Olive Crest also provided Angelica with a laptop when the pandemic hit and school moved online.

 

Many foster teens in our community face similar issues. And for those graduating from high school, they’ll need the skills to successfully transition to independence.

 

This year, Olive Crest is excited to be participating in the Kitsap Great Give, hosted by Kitsap Community Foundation.  The donations Olive Crest received help high schoolers like Angelica to gain the essential life skills that they need to be healthy and independent adults.

 

Angelica is on track to graduate high school in June. Her abilities to read and write independently have greatly improved and her grades are the best they’ve ever been. Angelica is planning to complete an Esthetics/Cosmetology program in the fall to follow her dreams of being a hairdresser.

Teen mother finds refuge with Safe Families

“I left in a thin pair of pants, a t-shirt, and a pair of flats in the snow, with my baby bundled up in his car seat and his diaper bag.”

 

Amanda was only a teenager when she found herself fleeing an abusive relationship with her six-month-old baby. Without a stable place to go, Amanda needed help.

 

Through a mentor from church, Amanda learned about Olive Crest’s Safe Families program. Amanda contacted Safe Families and she and her son were placed with a host family. The host family encouraged Amanda to attend school and create a parenting plan for her baby. The family cared for her emotionally and spiritually.

 

“I felt and saw love in ways I didn’t know I needed, drew closer to God, and graduated high school.”
 

Amanda’s story could’ve ended very differently- only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma before they turn 22. Because of Safe Families, Amanda is now stable and thriving.

 

Since leaving her host family, Amanda has moved into an apartment of her own and works as a paraeducator for her school district. She hopes to become a teacher and will be continuing her education at a local college in the spring.

 

“Safe Families helped my life in a time when I needed it the most. God’s timing was right and his promise to rescue me was true” – Amanda

Child Abuse and Abuse Victims During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Auto Draft 3The Covid pandemic is unprecedented and has resulted in many challenges for all of us. 

Feelings of isolation, fear, and anxiety are common—and understandable. But certain at-risk individuals face an even greater danger: violence and abuse from those who are closest to them. The unexpected stressors and financial burdens from the pandemic have created new, highly stressful situations. While domestic abuse often involves adults in an intimate relationship, children are often among the most at risk in situations where an adult is prone to violent or abusive behavior.

Surging Cases

As schools shut down and shelter-in-place orders were implemented in the first quarter of 2020, domestic violence hotlines expected a surge in calls. With abusers and their victims trapped together, it seemed inevitable that such violence would escalate. Things unfolded a little differently than expected, however. While calls rose in some areas, call volumes actually dropped, steeply, in many other areas. 

Sadly, experts suspect that this does not reflect a sudden drop in abuse. Quite the opposite. They believe that abuse cases increased, but victims were unable to contact service providers safely, for fear of further abuse.

Job loss, and job insecurity, have created even greater economic dependence among some victims, who lack the resources to escape their situations or remove their children from harm’s way. Simultaneously, stressors on adults have been mounting. School and daycare closures mean more children are staying home and the burden of their education is transferred to the adults in their lives. Added pressures, including the need to homeschool, while trying to make ends meet, have contributed to rising stress — and escalating risks of abuse in the community.

The Hidden Pandemic of Violence in the Home 

A leading medical publication, The New England Journal of Medicine, has called this “a pandemic within a pandemic.”

While doctors and clinicians are typically able to look for signs of domestic or child abuse when seeing patients privately, fewer visits to doctors and emergency rooms have conspired to make even this safety valve less available to victims or their advocates. 

In fact, pandemics and other times of civil unrest or uncertainty have historically resulted in higher incidences of violence against women and children.

Among the known factors that may contribute to rising violence are obvious ones, such as economic insecurity and poverty-related stress, and social isolation (which is magnified by shelter-in-place orders, quarantines, and widespread avoidance of social gatherings and interactions.) Fear and uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pathogen itself, and the disease it causes, is another stressor, even in the absence of illness. 

Mental health is a legitimate concern under such circumstances. Experts fear that the cycle of abuse, including domestic abuse (most often affecting women, but occasionally involving men who suffer such abuse), and child abuse, is being perpetuated and amplified.

Another Public Health Crisis

Essentially, the rise in cases of child abuse and domestic violence represents another public health crisis hiding in plain sight within the more obvious and well-documented public health crisis that is the Covid pandemic.

All over the world, evidence of rising domestic violence is emerging, but few governments have made provisions for abuse victims who may have been trapped with their abusers, thanks to shelter-in-place mandates and restrictions on movement. Many shelters, for example, were forced to close for lack of adequate social-distancing space. Some governments have responded by securing hotel rooms for abuse victims, so they can shelter safely away from their abusers — and the threat of infection from similarly affected strangers.

For immediate help in a crisis:

Call: 

  • 911
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
  • The National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-4453
  • The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673 
  • Olive Crest: 800.550.CHILD x 1234

We have qualified caseworkers on standby and the resources to help.

Olive Crest Giving, Helping Families and Children in Need

Olive Crest Giving, Helping Families and Children in Need

Now more than ever, America needs a renewed focus on caring — and giving. In this unusually challenging time, we encourage you to dig deep, open your heart and consider a donation to an organization that works hard to keep kids safe and families together: Olive Crest.

At-Risk Children Need Your Help

Olive Crest is a nonprofit composed of families and child-advocacy experts helping families to help stop the cycle of poverty, despair, and potential violence.

When it comes to children at risk for neglect, abuse, or other adverse childhood experiences, there are many factors at work.

By providing the resources and support families need to break the patterns of harmful behaviors, we enable them to realize their potential as loving, nurturing family units. We believe children thrive when they have a strong support network, which is why we equip them with the resources they need to stay together and work with them to restore families to a place of healthy functionality and resilience.

We recognize, support, and appreciate the value of the child welfare system. But we also believe children deserve every possible chance to remain within a healthy, loving family. An important part of our mission is to facilitate that possibility by making homes safer for kids, and by providing parents the resources they so desperately need to unlearn unhealthy patterns and develop better strategies for coping, so that families may thrive.

We Can’t Do It Alone

Olive Crest is recognized as a highly-effective care provider for children in crisis. As such, we receive up to 80 percent of our operational funding from the state. But that means we rely on generous donations from individuals to make up our lean, not-for-profit annual budget. Sometimes, children and families can’t do it on their own. They need help. Help that can only come from generous contributors like you; individuals who recognize that our children represent our future.

We are among the few child and family charities that focus not only on child safety but on breaking generations-old negative patterns and behaviors in families, helping families “reboot” and discover better strategies for coping with the daily struggles of life. We help to ensure the sanctity of birth families, and we provide firm but gentle guidance for parents and guardians who seek to do better for their children.

To further this essential work, we need your assistance. Help us help families remain united, while also thriving.

Your contribution helps make all the difference in countless lives, in multiple ways, and may ripple throughout multiple lives, fostering positive change for generations to come.

Your generous contribution goes toward the tireless work of stopping child abuse and neglect and helping families struggling with issues ranging from unemployment and homelessness to substance abuse and mental health issues.

Every contribution remains within the community where it was given, so you can rest assured you will be making a difference right where you live.

Young widow turns to Olive Crest’s Safe Families

“Abby, my daughter, was with the Safe Family for 43 days while I looked for housing and her father lay in the hospital dying” – Angelic

Angelic was living out of her car with her daughter while her husband was in the hospital.  When parents like Angelic have nowhere else to turn, Safe Families is there for them. Safe Families provides a loving home for children when a family is in crisis. It gives parents a chance to get back on their feet, knowing their child is safe.

 

Angelic turned to Safe Families to care for her daughter, Abby, when she had no one else who could help. It gave her the opportunity to find stable housing and be near her husband until he passed.  In their grief, Angelic and Abby were not alone. They were able to lean on Abby’s host family for love and support as they mourned their loss.

 

Abby’s host dad continued to be a part of her life. He took her to a daddy-daughter dance and out to breakfast on her birthday. And they helped watch Abby while Angelic finished her college courses.

 

Thanks to Safe Families, Abby and Angelic are now in stable housing and still have a strong relationship with Abby’s host family.

 

“Safe Families has been an amazing source of kindness, compassion and love. I can’t say enough great things about Safe Families” – Angelic

COVID-19 Parent/Guardian FAQs

During these uncertain times, many parents and guardians are in search of the best ways to help kids and adults deal with stress and anxiety. To better support our community, we’ve compiled some of our most frequently asked questions (FAQs) and responded with practical ways parents and guardians can set their children, families, and yes, even themselves, up for success.

  • Look for symptoms like fever, cough, difficulty breathing, and fatigue.
  • Clean and disinfect door handles, toys, electronics, counters, and other frequently touched items.
  • Here are kid-friendly videos explaining COVID-19:

Remind kids to wash hands frequently (for 20 seconds), cough/sneeze into elbows, avoid their touching faces, and practice social distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

  • Establish a routine for sleeping, getting out of bed, eating, studying, cleaning, alone time, and fun time. Designate a place for studying with minimal distractions. Be consistent. Review and adjust your schedule as needed. Click here for a helpful video.
  • Carve out blocks of time for each activity. Be flexible. Don’t worry if activity takes longer than expected; simply adjust schedule accordingly. Focus on harder tasks in the morning when you have more energy.
    • Kids crave routine. It helps ease anxiety and creates structure in this chaotic time.
    • Don’t be discouraged if you are met with resistance from your child; change can be hard at first. Be patient with yourself and your child. Start slowly, and work your way up to a stricter schedule that works best for both of you.
  • Ask about their concerns/questions. Communicate that you are doing your best and that you know they are doing their best, too!
  • Cloth mask
  • Hand sanitizer
  • The little things that make back-to-school special (like a new backpack or fresh pack of glitter pens) for a child still matter and can motivate them.
  • Make sure kids are wearing masks in public and practicing social distancing. Normalize the idea of wearing them. Encourage them to not worry about it by not making it a big deal and having a good attitude about staying healthy.
  • For little ones, ask teachers for a picture of themselves with and without a mask, so your child can begin to recognize them either way. This will help uneasy/scared children feel better
  • Communicate your concerns to your child’s teacher. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for the teacher’s help and advice.
  • Ask the teacher about educational online and offline activities or resources for your child.
    • Check in with your child regularly. For example, ask, “How are you feeling with school this week? How can I help?”
  • Practice good self-care by washing regularly, sleeping eight hours, eating healthy, spending time outside, exercising, and making time to relax.
  • Do a personal check-in. “How am I feeling this week? How am I coping with these feelings?” Remind yourself that you are doing your best and that your feelings are 100% valid.
  • Try breathing techniques, journaling, or talking to someone about it. Don’t be afraid to take a break or two throughout your day to be alone and recharge.
  • Take time to do things you enjoy…like singing, baking, or surfing
  • Here are links to videos related to COVID-19 stress:
  • If you’re struggling with kids fighting, click here for help. If you are having disagreements about parenting, click here.
  • Signs your child might be struggling emotionally:
    • Overly withdrawing
    • Excessive sleeping
    • Persistent sadness
    • Changes in appetite or rapid weight loss
    • Difficulty sleeping or overly neglecting personal hygiene
    • Talking about death/suicide
    • Hurting themselves or others intentionally
  • Resources available:
    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
      • 273.8255 (available 24/7 + chat)
      • 628.9465 (Español)
    • 211 Hotline
      • For anyone having a mental health crisis, substance issue, or needs help with food, housing, health care, or other social services, dial 211 (180+ languages).
  • Normalize the fact that every family has different concerns during this pandemic, therefore every family will have different rules and expectations.
  • Write out your specific rules and expectations, and post them somewhere your child can easily see and reference. Collaborate with your child, and ask for their opinions/concerns.
    • If needed, have a conversation with your child. “Look at the board—remember, this is what our family is doing to stay safe and protect others. Your friends might have different rules, and we have to make sure we are sticking to ours, even if they look different.”
  • Relax with a 15-minute guided meditation. Listen while showering, taking a break, or before starting the day. Click here for a list of guided meditations for all ages.
  • Watch your favorite movie with a calming cup of tea or hot cocoa (try chamomile tea with honey). You can even apply a homemade face mask while enjoying your flick. Click here for easy facemask ideas.
  • Journal, enjoy a nice drive, or go for a light jog.
  • Rock out to your favorite music while getting ready for the day…and don’t be afraid to sing aloud!

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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