Opening your home to children in need as a foster family or safe family can bless children and parents alike: like Jesse and Shannon Thompson who learned about becoming a Safe Family for at-risk children from another host family at their local home school group. 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. (The goal is to keep children out of the child welfare system.)
The Thompsons later inquired with Olive Crest and went through the application process. Once approved, they started hosting children in need of temporary care right away. And they continue to serve as a host family with Safe Families for Children through Olive Crest in the Desert Communities.
Their son Jadon also wanted to give back in some way. So he chose Olive Crest as his charity to donate birthday gifts he received from his friends at his 10th birthday party. We’re grateful to the Thompson family for opening their home to serve the community—and to Jadon for using his birthday to help strengthen children and families.
Giving back and helping those in need will often not only make an impact in the lives of those in need, but will have a lasting impact on many. Thank you to families like the Thompsons for opening their homes and hearts to Olive Crest kids.
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.
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.”
Each year, donations of backpacks and school supplies help get kids on track for a successful school year.
Michael Sullivan and Associates LLP not only cares about the law, they also care about supporting at-risk kids in their community. Thanks to them (and many more), our back-to-school drive in the Inland and Desert Communities was a success!
They donated more than 30 backpacks filled with school supplies of every kind. This gave families the opportunity to spend more time focusing on learning, growing, and achieving for the new school year and less time on finding money for school supplies. This can often be a burden for a family on a limited budget, or for foster and kinship parents.
We can’t thank Michael Sullivan and Associates enough for their support over the years (through our back-to-school drives, Easter drives, and local fundraising events). Thank you to them and to all supporters who made sure Olive Crest students went back to school this year feeling confident and equipped for success.
Children and families not only need tools and resources to survive…but to thrive! So on March 30, Olive Crest in the Inland and Desert Communities had the pleasure of hosting their first ever Health and Safety Day at Perris High School. This event was open to all Olive Crest families, and each age group went through a series of three health and safety classes.
Families learned about anything ranging from Internet safety (with a district attorney) to meal prepping. Instructors included the Riverside Chief of Police and their therapy dog, the Riverside Fire Chief, and wonderful staff from Kaiser Permanente. And more than 130 children and families left with a bag of groceries and smiles on their faces.
This day proved to be very valuable for all of our families and kiddos. Thank you to everyone who helped make it possible!
No child deserves to feel unloved or forgotten on Christmas. So from giving a single gift to adopting an entire family, members of the Olive Crest community outdid themselves during the 2018 holiday season! Through our annual Be the Miracle campaign, thousands of toys, gift cards, and Christmas wishes were granted for Olive Crest kids and families. For example:
- In Los Angeles, 47 families in our Adopt-a-Family program received day-to-day necessities as well as gifts they otherwise would not have been able to purchase.
- In the Desert and Inland Communities, generous donors like Agape Salon; Cypress Wealth Services; High Tower Advisors; Holstrom, Block & Parke; the Grove Church; and Monster Energy contributed to Be the Miracle. Plus, Toyota of Riverside, Hub International, and the City of Riverside went even further to bring joy by sponsoring specific families.
- Kids in the Pacific Northwest wore bright smiles when they received hundreds of gifts donated from churches, companies, and individuals in the community. Special thanks to all the volunteers who helped make sure Be the Miracle events ran smoothly, as well as those from New Life Church. One foster mom mentioned, “It was special to celebrate with ‘sister families’….It was wonderful to see so many foster-friends who have given us supplies, prayed for us, or encouraged us along the way. It was a family reunion of sorts!”
Because of your compassion, Christmas was special for thousands of children and teens who need to know that someone cares, that they are important, and that their dreams matter. Thank you!
On Sunday, November 11, approximately 50 Olive Crest employees joined forces to participate in the Mission Inn 5K Run in Riverside. People from all over the Riverside and desert areas run in this annual event. It was great to represent Olive Crest and the children and families in crisis in our community at this event, where the goal was to raise $10,000. Thank you to everyone who took part in this fun and worthwhile event.
Fifty families benefitted from the kindness of Summit Water of Life Church this Thanksgiving. Pictured are three Olive Crest staff members, along with Corinna of Summit Water of Life Church (far right).
Olive Crest is indeed fortunate to have great community partners who are as passionate about our kids and families as we are. One such partner is Summit Water of Life Church, which became involved with Olive Crest in the Inland and Desert Communities through the Safe Families for Children program. Members of this congregation made Thanksgiving very special for 50 Olive Crest families by providing them with beautiful Thanksgiving baskets filled with non-perishable items, such as mashed potatoes, corn, peas, cake mixes, and canned yams – and every basket had a $50 gift card to help provide the families with a fresh turkey.
Fifth-graders at Inland Leaders Charter School provided 22 personal hygiene bags for our kiddos and generously donated several books.
This holiday season, special help from 106 fifth-grade students at Inland Leaders Charter School in Yucaipa gave Olive Crest kids one of the best Christmas seasons ever. It all began when the students reached out to Olive Crest to find out what they could do to help children who have been abandoned and abused. They joined our Be the Miracle drive, creating personal hygiene bags and festive Christmas stockings for other elementary school kids. What a blessing to have young partners like these giving back to kids and families!
Because of your support, children and families in the Inland and Desert Communities were able to attend Olive Crest’s Harvest Festival this past fall held at one of our local group homes. The festival was designed for fun and celebration in a safe and warm environment.
Children and families who have been faced with abuse, neglect, and volatile home environments — not to mention financial and emotional stress — were able to relax and enjoy a variety of carnival games, candy prizes, a climbing wall, and even a bungee jump!
Thank you for your support to strengthen and support kids and families in our community.
A story that our Chaplain, Frank Fried, shared demonstrates how life-changing summer camp really is. Camp is fun…really fun! But what if fun is something that you’re not familiar or really comfortable with? Camp can be a challenge; it can even be traumatic.
As a camp counselor, when Frank returned to the cabin one day, he found a 14-year-old Olive Crest camper sitting on the stairs to their cabin…crying. Frank sat down, comforting him, and asked what was wrong. The teen wasn’t really sure why he was crying, but as they talked for a little bit, they figured out that he was feeling very un-nerved by how wonderful camp was.
As they talked, Frank learned that the vast majority of the teen’s upbringing had been very traumatic. He was comfortable with conflict and expecting the worst. However, camp was amazingly safe and delightfully fun…and had to be too good to be true from his perspective. It was a Christian camp, and he couldn’t believe that there could be so many happy, nice, and friendly people there.
Many of the kids that come to Olive Crest experience a way of life that they had never let themselves dream of. They experience real family, real love, real patience, and real forgiveness. For those who’ve grown up in a safe and loving family, it’s hard to appreciate how foreign that can be to a child, teen, or an adult.
Your support is helping make a drastic change in the lives of so many children and youth. Thank you!
Read more about Chaplain Frank’s thoughts on at-risk youth and camp.