A Letter From an Olive Crest Kid — Diana Alvarez, Former Resident Teen

A Letter From an Olive Crest Kid — Diana Alvarez, Former Resident Teen, Olive Crest, group home, at-risk, kid, teenager

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.

With love and appreciation,
Diana Alvarez

Baseball Players’ Wives Prove They’re Angels, Too!

Olive Crest, Los Angeles Angels, LA Angels, child care, children, families

Rhonda Tagge, National Development Director (left), with the team of Angels wives who helped revamp child care rooms for Olive Crest in Orange County.

Let’s hear a rousing cheer for the “Angels Wives Team”!  These gracious ladies recently came to our office in Orange County and spent hours redecorating our therapy and child care rooms. They did a wonderful job making both spaces feel more homey and cheerful; they will be a blessing for the kids who come here. A special thanks to Mariel Perez for heading up the project, along with all the rest of the Los Angeles Angels wives crew! Thank you for showing that your husbands are not the only Angels in town!

 

Olive Crest Kids Take to the Sea!

Olive Crest, kids, fishing, event
Harbour Rod and Reel Club, a Huntington Harbor-based group whose members encourage the art of angling with rod, reel, and line, recently took a group of Olive Crest kids out on the water for a day of fishing, camaraderie, and fun. The group took off from Dana Point, which for many on board, was a first-time ocean experience. The boys learned basic technique, good sportsmanship, and teamwork from the experienced fishermen, while enjoying the fresh air and exhilaration of reeling in their first catch. Through this outreach, the Road and Reel Club members look forward to giving young people a chance to experience something they are passionate about. At the same time, if they can instill a love for being out on the ocean while teaching the basics of cooperation and conservation, the lessons learned can be life-changing.
 

 

Supporters Make All the Difference

supporters, partnership, donate, kids, families, teens, Olive Crest

Teens had fun with makeup donated by Point Hope this past year, along with their generous donation of water bottles, which were given to our kids for school.

Everyone supporting the kids and teens at Olive Crest helps transform lives! Today, we’d like to send special thanks to Delilah, host of the “Lights Out with Delilah” radio show in the Pacific Northwest, and her foundation, Point Hope, which focuses on foster care. This past year, kids and teens at Olive Crest enjoyed hundreds of makeup donated by Point Hope. Point Hope also donated water bottles that went to our kids as they headed back to school. We are so excited to partner with the fine organizations and people who help benefit the children and teens we serve!

 

Thank You for Putting Big Smiles on Little Faces

Olive Crest, FoodFinders, Sprouts, groceries, donate food, Los Angeles

All of us at Olive Crest are so grateful for donors like you who put smiles on kids’ faces! We’re giving a special shout-out to Food Finders and Bellflower Brethren Church for their time and generosity. Thanks to these generous folks, Olive Crest families will now have access to free nutritious food on a weekly basis. Food Finders – an organization that links donated food to pantries and shelters in order to bridge the hunger gap in our communities – made the connection with Whole Foods 365 in Long Beach and Sprouts in Lakewood to deliver fresh veggies, fruit, bread, and other basics to all of our programs each week.

And in other news, Bellflower Brethren Church provided 10 volunteers to repaint our child care room where little ones can play while their moms and dads are in parenting classes, group support, or counseling. We are so thankful for the blessing of donors like you who give so generously to help kids and families become healthy, productive citizens. Smiles all around!

 

You Helped Provide 200 New Backpacks to Kids Like Jose and Alonso

Olive Crest Las Vegas Backpack Drive

The generosity of Lennar Las Vegas Homes and all our other backpack donors made 200 kids happy with new backpacks.

 

School supplies, shoes, and brand new backpacks are the stuff of a great new school year. But many Olive Crest kids have never had these basics. That all changed this August when 200 backpacks were given out, putting big smiles on small faces. Jose says, “Thanks for giving me the shoes and backpack. I am happy that I can get these things, so thank you so much.” And Alonso says, “Thank you for everything for school. And thank you for helping my brother!”

These small things make a huge difference in building confidence and self-worth for our kids. Thanks to Lennar Las Vegas Homes, Mountaintop Faith Ministries, Capstone Brokerage, and all of you who donated. Your generosity is such a blessing!

 

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!

Donors and Volunteers Make All the Difference

A big thank you to Foodfinders and Bellflower Brethren Church for their time and generosity!

Donors and Volunteers Make All the Difference

Olive Crest families will be provided with food on a weekly basis because Foodfinders connected us with Whole Foods 365 in Long Beach and Sprouts in Lakewood. Basic needs such as food are essential to improving lives!

Donors and Volunteers Make All the Difference 1

Bellflower Brethren Church provided 10 volunteers, who helped clean our gift room and repaint the child care room. Our child care room is used while parents are in parenting classes, group support, and therapy. An organized workplace makes for comfortable meetings and accomplishing tasks efficiently!

We are so thankful for our donors and volunteers—you make a difference in so many lives.

Donations and Volunteers Give Teens a Remodeled Group Home!

A while back we shared with you that the teens in one of our Orange County group homes would be getting a home makeover, thanks to Michael Sullivan and Associates Law Firm and Impressions Contracting. The renovation has been completed, and it looks fantastic! The updated home now provides a fresh, productive, home-like environment for our kids to live in.

It’s quite encouraging to have a clean, refreshed space to live in. Thank you to our very generous donors for making impactful differences in our kids’ lives!

Thank You to Our New Mentors in Los Angeles!

Thank You to Our New Mentors in Los Angeles!

Young adults at Olive Crest now have five new mentors to teach them independent living skills and help coach them. Right before summer, we had our first mentoring orientation for anyone interested in helping our young adults – and afterward, all five people signed up! What a great way to help end the cycle of abuse, homelessness, and re-entry into the child welfare system. Our kids and teens learn so much from our mentors!

If you’d like to be a mentor for young adults at Olive Crest, you can attend an orientation meeting to learn more. Moving forward, each potential mentor is required to complete a two-hour training session. Our staff will provide training and guidance to help you support the vulnerable children and families we serve. For more information, please contact Nick King at nicholas-king@olivecrest.org or 562.866.8956, x1632.