It’s Easy to Support Kids and Families!

It’s Easy to Support Kids and Families!

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.

Smart & Final Shows Compassion for At-Risk Kids and Families

Olive Crest, kids, at-risk kids, at-risk children, families, Smart & Final, donate

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.

 

Let’s Hear It for the Ambassador for the Children Award Winners!

Let’s Hear It for the Ambassador for the Children Award Winners!

 

Mickie Sharp-Villanueva and Dave Grosse from The Performance Group have been selected as the 2018 Ambassador for the Children award recipients.  These outstanding individuals were honored at our recent An Education for Every Child luncheon, where they were praised for their “strong servant leadership and selfless dedication to Olive Crest and the families that are supported.” Their personal investments and service for over 20 years has greatly impacted the children and families we serve. Thank you, Dave and Mickie! What a blessing you are!

30 Children Find Hope, Thanks to One Compassionate Couple

30 Children Find Hope, Thanks to One Compassionate Couple

“When you care for a child and you love that child they truly become part of you,” Virginia Fremmerlid said.

Brent and Virginia Fremmerlid have brought more than 30 children into their home in the past four years through the Safe Families for Children program, which connects families in need with a safe place for children to stay on a temporary basis. The Fremmerlids have five children of their own — yet they love each child who comes into their home like their own for that short period of time. What a difference they have made in so many lives! Check out the video to learn more!

Stopping the Cycle of Abuse—Tiffany’s Transformation

Stopping the Cycle of Abuse—Tiffany’s Transformation 1

Tiffany’s younger years were filled with abuse, neglect, and fear. Her parents had a crippling addiction to meth and Tiffany had to be removed from her home, spending most of her childhood in and out of the child welfare system. Tiffany was thrilled when, at 13, she found out she would be reunited with her mom. But her mother hadn’t changed, and soon Tiffany realized she would never get the love she needed. Instead, Tiffany said, “My mother showed me how to smoke meth. She popped it right in my mouth and lit it, and I was hooked.”

Desperate for a Way Out

“By the time I was 14, I was an everyday addict. When my mother didn’t have her drugs, she was angry and abusive. She’d beat me, physically. We were squatting, dirty, and homeless.” Tiffany attempted to end her life with an overdose — but she survived, and her addiction became even worse.

That’s when she met the abusive man who became the father of her two children. They lived in abandoned buildings with no running water or electricity. Tiffany was in and out of jail. In fact, when she gave birth to her daughter, she was handcuffed to a hospital bed with a corrections officer counting between contractions.

She wanted to get her life straightened out. But almost as soon as she was released from jail, she was back to her old habits with her children in tow: Charlie, 2, and her baby girl, Brianna.

She knew she had to change…for the sake of her little ones.

She called her grandmother, who explained there were two places she could get the help she needed. The first was a rescue mission that had a year-long program to help people break free from addictions. The second was Olive Crest.

Tiffany contacted Olive Crest, and staff connected her with a volunteer Safe Family that would take care of her kids while she enrolled in the mission’s program. She says, “It was one of the hardest decisions of my life, strapping my two kids into some strange man’s car and watching them drive away. But looking back, it was all for them.”

“ I started to learn how to be a mother.”

Tiffany’s Olive Crest team developed a plan to reunite her with her children. When she met with the family hosting her kids, she could tell immediately that they were on her side.

“I reached a real turning point when my host dad, Bill, asked me a question no one else had ever asked before: ‘Can I pray for you?’”

Tiffany also watched how Leslie, her host mom, showed love and compassion to her children. “And I started to learn how to be a mother to my own kids. They took me to church with them.

Along the way, Leslie taught me how to budget and save money, and about the importance of being self-sufficient.”

Finding a Family, a New Life, and a Future Free From Abuse

Tiffany says, “In Olive Crest’s Safe Families program, I didn’t just find a safe house for my kids. I found a family. I found the beginning of a new life. I’m thankful every day that my kids are healthy and doing well — that Olive Crest helped break the cycle of abuse. I have sole custody. I live in a three-bedroom apartment. I work a full-time job and am slowly working on a degree in accounting.” She has been clean and sober for five years.

Tiffany hopes to someday use her own experience to help other young women caught up in addiction and abuse. “Without Olive Crest — and the people like you who sacrifice to support their work — my story would have turned out very differently.

Instead, I can say,

“child abuse stopped here.

It’s a Celebration of Forever Families!

It’s a Celebration of Forever Families!

Announcing Olive Crest’s 2,500th Adoption

At Olive Crest, we believe every child needs a strong family, and adoption is just one of the ways caring people can provide that for abused and neglected children.

With that said, we’re thrilled to announce that a 4-year-old boy named Xavier has become the 2,500th child to find a forever family through Olive Crest. His new parents, Ruben and Melinda, first heard about Olive Crest through their church. They already had one son, Lorenzo, and knew they had more love to give. Initially, they planned to provide temporary care for children who would eventually be reunited with their biological parents.

Then they heard about Xavier, who was waiting for a foster or adoptive home. After meeting Xavier, Ruben and Melinda decided to become his foster parents and then quickly felt called to adopt him. Less than a year later, they stood in a Southern California courtroom, surrounded by family, friends, and Olive Crest staff, as Xavier became their son!

Thank you for all you’ve done to make it possible for Olive Crest to help 2,500 children like Xavier find loving forever families. What a blessing you are!

How Michael Found Purpose After a Life of Abuse

How Michael Found Purpose After a Life of Abuse

When you meet Michael Weitzman for the first time, it’s hard to believe he has endured so much pain and sorrow in his 21 years. His positive outlook, quick smile, and friendly demeanor could suggest images of a teen who was loved and given every opportunity to succeed.

Could this be the same person who, for most of his childhood, never had a true permanent home, and thought he would never find a place where he belonged? How did he get to where he is today?

When Michael was born, his mom was 18, alone, and struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. Immediately after Michael’s birth, she became pregnant with another son, Demetrius. Tragically, Demetrius died at the age of 3 months from sudden infant death syndrome. Michael says, “After my brother passed away, the police came to our home and found me all alone — sitting on the floor with a knife in my hand.” He was only about 2 years old.

Thus began Michael’s journey of years of instability and multiple temporary homes.

“I remember feeling so broken and hurt.”

It seemed that things might change when Michael went to live with his grandfather. Instead, he endured over two years of physical and sexual abuse before Social Services removed him.

Michael was then adopted into a caring family that seemed to be exactly what he longed for. But by this time, he had difficulty believing that anyone could really love him. The rejection he had endured caused him to be untrusting and rebellious. He tested the limits of his new parents’ love to the point where they gave up on him. At 15, he was once again alone in the world. “I remember feeling so broken and hurt. I just thought, what happens now? Where do I go from here?”

He then went to a facility that seemed more like a prison. Violent fights were common. He had to watch his back at all times. Even now, Michael shudders when he thinks about it. “I remember looking out that barred window, watching people driving by on the freeway and thinking, ‘Everyone is free except me.’ I didn’t dare to think that things would ever get better.”

A New Life. A Found Purpose.

By God’s grace and with your support, Olive Crest got involved in Michael’s life. He spent the next two-plus years in the safety and care of an Olive Crest residential home for teenagers, where he found what he desperately needed. Consistency. A nurturing environment. Unconditional love. Unwavering support. With Olive Crest’s help, he graduated from high school and landed his first two jobs.

He also had the constant guidance of a caring mentor. “Having a mentor like Chris was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Michael says. He was happier and more content than he had ever been — but he was still worried about the future. What would happen when he turned 18 and was on his own? One morning, he told Chris, “You know I trust God, and I believe that all this is under control, but I’m scared about the future.”

Michael smiled, saying, “He told me that his dad owned a business in Tulsa, and he could set me up with a job and a place to live.” With Olive Crest’s continued support, Michael moved to Tulsa. That was nearly three years ago. “And since I moved here, everything has been getting better and better.” After a year and a half working for his mentor’s family business, Michael started Weitzman Collective — a branding, design, and digital marketing firm that helps businesses develop logos, design websites, and engage with social media audiences.

His spirit and purpose renewed, Michael spent six months as a missionary in Quito, Ecuador, and now serves as one of the teaching pastors of his church, called The Church That Matters, in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. He frequently shares his story at other churches in the Tulsa area and at events hosted by organizations that work with children.

For Michael, his strong family came in the form of a healthy and safe group home with committed and caring staff to support and guide him. “I love to talk about the difference Olive Crest has made in my life,” he says. “I hate to think of where I’d be without them.”

“There are so many children out there who are lost. Olive Crest rescues the lost, binds up their wounds, and gives them hope for a better life.”

 

 

 

 

How Adoption Saved a Little Girl From a Life of Pain

How Adoption Saved a Little Girl From a Life of Pain

Like most 4-year-old children, Paxtyn is full of life and energy. She loves to sing and dance, and her face lights up if she can make her 2-year-old sister, Eleanor, laugh. She also has a great time getting into mischief with her little brother, Etsen, who is 3 years old.

But that wasn’t always the case for this precious child. In the first 21 months of her life, she endured the pain of 15 fractured ribs and a broken clavicle — allegedly at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend. What makes this tragic story even more heartbreaking is that she was never seen by a doctor or treated for any of these injuries. Instead, she was put back in her crib and left to cry herself to sleep.

It was only when she was taken to the doctor for an unrelated condition that all of the broken bones and other injuries were discovered. An investigation came to the conclusion that the injuries were intentionally inflicted and that Paxtyn must be placed in care for protection. That’s when Olive Crest became involved in Paxtyn’s life, and contacted Kendra and Ben, a young couple who had just completed their training to be Olive Crest parents.

“Adoption had always been in our hearts.”

Kendra says that she and Ben had always talked about adopting children someday. “Adoption had always been in our hearts,” she says. Why adopt? “Because we knew there are so many children who are abused and neglected, and need someone to love them.”

Their plans were complicated when Kendra became pregnant with Etsen just as they finished their foster training.

Kendra says, “Olive Crest worked so hard to find the right child for us.”

She says that when Paxtyn came to live with them, they fell in love with her right away. Although she was too young to remember what happened to her, the pain she had endured made itself known in other ways. She had night terrors and would wake up screaming and crying in the middle of the night at least five times a week. She also suffered from severe separation anxiety. Paxtyn didn’t want to let her adoptive parents out of her sight. “It was only over time that we realized how deeply she was impacted,” Kendra says.

“But, Olive Crest was always there to encourage us and provide the resources we needed. We had a great treatment specialist who was so supportive, and we were blessed with a very good caseworker.”

“She has come a long way.”

Kendra says that Paxtyn is still overcoming a few issues. “She has some anxiety. But she’s more trusting of us, and she’s very caring and loving. She has come a long way,” she says.

Two years ago, Paxtyn’s little sister Eleanor joined the family. Ben and Kendra have since adopted both girls, and the children love each other dearly. “As far as Paxtyn is concerned,” Kendra says, “I know her little sister is her favorite person in the world. She does everything she can to keep Eleanor entertained and happy. And today Paxtyn and Etsen are partners in crime. They’re great pals.”

Asked if she would do it all again, Kendra replies, “Absolutely! We love our little girls. And if there’s anyone out there who’s thinking at all about adopting, I say, please call Olive Crest right now and talk to them about it. Don’t wait until you’re ready, because there’s never going to be a perfect time. Do it now! After all, the more people who get involved, the more kids we’ll be able to rescue.”

Thank You for Helping Olive Crest Build Happy Families!

Thank You for Helping Olive Crest Build Happy Families!

Happy. Energetic. Outgoing. These are some of the words that come to mind when you first meet Tristan and Eli Struwe. They are bright-eyed boys who love each other, their parents, and fun outings like trips to Disneyland.

And it’s obvious that they are the light in the eyes of their parents, Kelly and Bryan.

“They’re awesome boys,” Bryan says. “Great brothers. They’re not from the same parents, but you’d never know it — they’re so close and kindhearted toward each other.”

But life would be much different for these two little guys — and their parents, too — if not for caring friends like you who support the work of Olive Crest. Both boys were born to women who couldn’t care for them. They had no families to love them or help them fulfill their potential.

Help From Above

As far back as she can remember, Kelly knew she wanted to adopt a child someday. “It was just something God put on my heart,” she says. Bryan saw things differently. In fact, he became frustrated when his wife talked about adopting. “I’m a Choctaw Indian — and it was very important to me that I continue my own bloodline.” But then something happened. “God started chipping away at my heart,” he says. “And my attitude changed.”

Shortly after Kelly and Bryan decided to adopt through Olive Crest, the call came. An 8-month-old boy was in urgent need of a loving family. And amazingly, the child was a full-blooded Choctaw Indian, the same as Bryan! Kelly had chills, feeling blessed by the gift of this child. When Tristan came into the family in February of 2015, he was uncertain and withdrawn. But with the warmth and care of his new parents’ love, his personality quickly began to develop and blossom. As for Kelly and Bryan, they felt a joy and peace they had never experienced before.

Another Dream Comes True

Seven months later, Bryan and Kelly received another call about a child who was in need of a home. He was a

healthy baby boy named Eli. Kelly cried as once again, she felt that God was giving her the desires of her heart.

She says that she and Bryan have received a tremendous amount of support from Olive Crest. “Olive Crest is like our extended family,” she says. They’ve always been there for us, helping us through the tough moments, giving support when we need it.”

“It’s obvious that they love children, and that’s so important to us,” Bryan

says. A grin spreads across his face as he watches his sons at play. “I can’t believe I was ever against adopting. When I come home from work, and my boys run to the door to greet me, yelling, ‘Daddy! Daddy!’ Well, there’s really nothing like it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Olive Crest, we work hard to ensure that children who need forever families are matched with the right parents.

And in the case of Tristan and Eli, it’s clear there was a “higher” plan in

motion. The Bible says, “God sets the lonely in families. . .” (Psalm 68:6), and sometimes, He does that through generous, caring hearts like yours.

Thank you for helping to make it all possible

 

Roshaunda’s Beautiful Future After Years of Heartbreak and Abuse

Dig News_Apr 2017_Roshaunda

Roshaunda is bright, beautiful, caring, poised, articulate, and confident. She clearly has a lot going for her.

Just weeks away from obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in Childhood Development, Roshaunda plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Social Work. Ultimately, she hopes to make a career out of helping children through Olive Crest.

Child Abuse Survivor

Roshaunda is also a recovering victim of abuse and a survivor of a horrific childhood.

When she was a little girl, she and her siblings were removed from their mother, as she often left them alone for days while she fed her gambling addiction. Tragically, during that time, neighbors noticed the children were home alone, and one of them took advantage of and sexually assaulted Roshaunda’s oldest sister.

From that time on, Roshaunda was in and out of various homes, some good and others not-so-good. One, in particular was terrible.

“When I was 10, my younger brother and I were put with a family that abused us in every way,” she recalls. “They constantly told us that we weren’t worth anything and that we’d never be worth anything. They said that our mom didn’t want us, and I’d say, ‘I know my mom loves me,’ because she told me she did every time I saw her.”

“One time they spanked us with a belt, and I guess they didn’t think that was good enough so they began beating us with an extension cord. I was in my room crying when I saw them beating my brother, who was only six. I couldn’t stand it, and I went crazy.” Somehow, she escaped from the house, ran down the street, and managed to call the police. That day, Roshaunda and her brother were moved to a new home.

Kind Hearts at Olive Crest

Roshaunda was lost in the system until she was an 18-year-old highschool
graduate. That’s when she was connected with Olive Crest and was
surrounded by the care and nurturing she had needed for so many years.
Her team of supporters and mentors at Olive Crest found her housing and
provided daily practical assistance with finance, educational planning,
emotional encouragement, and other tools to help her heal and become an
independent young woman.

At Olive Crest, I met so many people with kind hearts,” she says. “I’ll never forget what they did for me.” She has a special appreciation for her caseworker, Victoria. “She went way above and beyond. If I had a bad day, I knew I could call her, and she would be that inspirational voice that would push me forward. She drove me to the store and helped me go grocery shopping. She taught me how to read labels, compare prices, and cut back on things I didn’t really need.” She also helped Roshaunda extricate herself from a bad relationship. “She helped me believe in myself and held me accountable, which I really needed.”

At Olive Crest, she also learned how to manage a household budget and pay rent. “But it isn’t really rent, because at the end of your time there, they give it all back to you. Not only that, but they also match all the money you’ve saved.” Roshaunda set a record and received an award for saving $9,000, which she used to help pay for her college education.

Roshaunda says she is deeply grateful for friends like you, who made this
critical, life-changing connection with Olive Crest possible. “I wish I could
give every Olive Crest donor a hug and tell them how much their support has meant to me. And not only me, but to all the kids they’ve helped, including my little brother, my future children, and all the children I’m going to care for during my career.”

She also wants you to know that your support is making a real difference for kids who just need a helping hand to fulfill their great potential. Many of
those she met at Olive Crest will be her lifelong friends.

“My best friend now was my Olive Crest roommate,” she says with a big smile on her face. “She’s getting married this month, and I’m her maid of honor. It’s like a dream come true.”

Thank you for all you’re doing to stop the vicious cycle of abuse and
restore the lives of young people like Roshaunda. We will keep you updated as she keeps pursuing her dreams!