BY MADELINE ZUCKERMAN
PHOTOS BY MARK CIESLIKOWSKI
Olive Crest Desert Communities has announced the Grand Opening of its highly-anticipated new Children’s and Family Resource Center, which took place on Tuesday, January 23, 2024 from 4:00 to 6:00 pm at the new campus located at 39820 Portola Avenue in Palm Desert. This was the culmination of a long-awaited and much-needed Olive Crest expansion within the Coachella Valley, where the organization’s highly successful and impactful programs for at-risk youth and their families will be available for the very first time in one location on this comprehensive campus.
“In conjunction with Olive Crest’s recent 50th Anniversary, our leadership team evaluated current and emergent needs for local families,” said Tracy Fitzsimmons, Executive Director of Olive Crest Inland and Desert Communities. “It became evident that increased efforts should be placed in the Coachella Valley, with additional focus on the availability of mental health services, establishment of informal community supports for at-risk families, and continued educational opportunities for those in all walks of life. Recently, our services have grown by 500%, which really validates the importance in establishing our new Center.”
The celebration began at 4:00 p.m. with a Grand Opening Reception which included tours of the new facility and a ribbon-cutting ceremony, emceed by KESQ News Channel 3 Anchor Karen Devine.
Distinguished Speakers during the Grand Opening included Tracy Fitzsimmons, Executive Director of Olive Crest Inland & Desert Communities, who since 2015 has led a rapid and successful expansion of services for the Coachella Valley community. Fitzsimmons during this celebration recognized Lead Donors including Connie & Bob Lurie, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Dr. James & Lorraine Brinton, Nancy & George DeVries, Leslie & Sean McGrath, and Dr. Natalie Driessen and Dr. Michael Messina. Fitzsimmons also spoke about the impact this new Children’s and Family Resource Center will have on this community.
Donald Verleur, CEO of Olive Crest, Victoria Perez for County Supervisor Manuel Perez, and the Honorable Mayor of Palm Desert Karina Quintanilla also spoke during the celebration.
For more than two decades, Olive Crest Desert Communities have been working to improve the lives and futures of at-risk children and their families. Here are some sobering statistics:
- There is a report of child made every 10 seconds in the United States.
- Five children die every day from child abuse.
- There are more than 400,000 children in the Child Welfare System at any given time.
- 41,000 allegations of abuse or neglect are made to the child abuse hotline annually here in Riverside County, of which 25% or 1 in 4 comes from here in the Coachella Valley.
- Olive Crest’s vision is to reach 1.2 million children and families in crisis by 2030 through their Child Abuse Stops Here® strategic initiative.
The new Children’s and Family Resource Center will bring together services into one facility that will also have space and resources to expand existing child-abuse prevention, counseling, and foster care programs, as well as support new efforts such as onsite Community partner offices, supplemental food pantry and urgent needs closet, and expanded mental health counseling services.
The Resource Center encompasses four distinct facilities – – Community Involvement Center, Counseling Center, Education and Training Center, and Family Resource Center.
The Community Involvement Center, funded by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, includes:
- The Volunteer Staging Hub where volunteers will engage in projects like monthly and holiday donations drives and sorting donated clothing and food. Open offices and huddle rooms will also be available to Olive Crest team members to mentor, coach, and tutor kids in their care.
- Community Partner Rooms for local organizations to set up and provide financial, legal, and educational services and activities to Olive Crest clients in the community-at-large.
- The Food Pantry and Urgent Needs Closet will provide non-perishable groceries, personal and household items to families that visit the Center.
The Connie and Bob Lurie Counseling Center includes:
- Play Therapy Room and a Sensory Room for younger clients to provide nonverbal indication of trauma.
- Counseling Rooms for evaluation, consultation, individual and family counseling, case management, medication support, intensive care coordination, behavior modification, and crisis intervention.
The Brinton Education and Training Center includes:
- Training Room to offer Life Skills training classes such as financial literacy, parenting, fitness, nutrition, and more, as well as Continuing Education.
- Child and Family Team Meeting Rooms for critical mentoring from professional staff on rebuilding relationships with family and friends through in-person and virtual meetings.
- The Youth Drop-In Center and Learning Lab, which will have computer work stations and a comfortable environment with a refrigerator, laundry, food, and microwave access.
The Family Resource Center (Unnamed) includes:
- Family therapy rooms for client evaluation and discussion towards family preservation efforts.
- Huddle Rooms for “wraparound” meetings for discussion of treatment plans.
- Workspace for case managers and resource specialists.
“After 22 years of serving the Coachella Valley, it is extremely satisfying that we can establish a permanent long-term location that solidifies our commitment to the community and enables us to provide ongoing 24/7 care for our community’s most vulnerable population,” said Tracy Fitzsimmons.
ABOUT OLIVE CREST
Since 1973, Olive Crest has transformed the lives of over 200,000 children and their families. We work tirelessly to meet the individual needs of kids in crisis by providing safe homes, counseling, and education for both youth and parents. Our many innovative programs reflect our conviction that strengthening the family is one of the most powerful ways to help heal children. Our 99% stability rate is a testament to the lifelong commitment and unwavering compassion that the Olive Crest family maintains to the children and families we serve, even after they have graduated from our programs.
Olive Crest expects to serve 800 Coachella Valley children and families in this coming year. Throughout the organization, Olive Crest serves 5,000 children and families each day throughout the Western United States.
For information on this new Children’s and Family Resource Center and all that Olive Crest is doing in the Coachella Valley, please call 1-800-550-CHILD (2445) or visit www.olivecrest.org/coachella-valley.