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 When Tristan came into the family in February of 2015, he was uncertain and withdrawn.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

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!

Welcome our new Olive Crest – Orange County Region Executive Director!

Chief Executive Officer of Olive Crest, Donald Verleur II, announced the appointment of Kerri Dunkelberger as Executive Director of the Orange County region. Kerri comes with 26 years of experience in organizational leadership and on-profit program management. With 24 years of leadership experience at Olive Crest and 2 years as the Executive Director of Bethany Christian Services, Kerri not only brings the highest caliber of expertise, but passion for providing at-risk children with strong, loving families. Kerri holds a dual BA degree in Mass Communications and Business Administration, as well as a Masters in Marriage and Family Counseling.

This appointment fits within Olive Crest’s strategy in achieving the organization’s Vision 2020 to increase its reach to 100,000 more children and families by the year 2020. Tim Bauer will continue in his key role as the Executive Director of Development, working alongside Kerri in building awareness and raising much needed community resources.

Olive Crest and Youth for Christ Team up to Help at Risk Children

TACOMA, Wash., July 12, 2016 — In an unprecedented move, Youth for Christ (YFC) in Tacoma has decided to shift its foster care and adoption services to Olive Crest Pacific Northwest.

After Youth for Christ’s decision to focus its ministry on 11 to 19-year-olds, the leadership sought out a credible, like-minded partner to operate its foster care services.

For more than 40 years, Olive Crest has provided foster care and adoption services in California, Nevada and the Pacific Northwest. The nonprofit organization is a leader in the prevention and treatment of child abuse, serving nearly 3,000 children and families each day.

Staff will grow to 103 serving the Seattle-Tacoma area, and will work with 305 families, and serve 249 kids in care in Pierce, Thurston, King, Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom and Lewis counties.

The Youth for Christ foster care offices at 1216 Center Street will become part of Olive Crest under a lease agreement. The remaining YFC programs and staff will move to the organization’s Hilltop Offices, Ministry Headquarters at 1116 South 11th Street.

Olive Crest in Seattle and now Tacoma provides foster care services through secure, certified and trained loving families in therapeutically safe environments. In addition, the agency provides intensive treatment for children with complex emotional and behavioral needs that exceed what a regular foster care family can meet. Safe Families for Children is an additional program where parents experiencing a temporary crisis can arrange for their children to stay with Safe Families volunteers while they address the issues that led to the instability in their lives.

Olive Crest also offers parent education, counseling and case management services to help strengthen families to keep them together. The organization works with the state of Washington to ensure that safe and loving foster families are available to meet the needs of abused and neglected youth. Mental health staff is integrated into Olive Crest programs to provide high-quality and effective care.

More information

Contact: Heidi Riehl
(657) 622-4137