Olive Crest, the recognized leader in the prevention and treatment of child abuse for over 45 years, celebrated the opening of a new outpatient Counseling Center for the Desert Region of Riverside County.   The Center has offices in the Berger Center building, located at 75105 Merle Drive, Suite 100, in Palm Desert.  This new Counseling Center will provide a broad range of priority Mental and Behavioral Health services for children who are Medi-Cal eligible from birth through age 21.  “We are excited for this growth opportunity, and grateful to see our impact extend further into the community,” stated Tracy Fitzsimmons, Olive Crest Executive Director.

(left to right) Steven Hernandez, Mayor of Coachella, Jan Harnik, Mayor of Palm Desert, and Riverside County Board of Supervisors Manuel Perez. Harnik and Perez presented proclamations during the event to Olive Crest.

“Olive Crest is a COA accredited organization, providing a broad range of programs in the service of children and families,” states Kelly Duguay, Olive Crest Regional Programs Director. “As an organization, we are dedicated to ensuring the safety, well-being, and permanency of children.  In fact, our programs maintain a 99% placement stability rate and achieve 90% permanency,” she continued.

The Center will provide comprehensive and individualized assessment and services to children and young adults, with emotional and behavioral problems impacting their ability to thrive at home, in school, or in other social settings.  In addition, individual, family, and group therapy programs will be provided.  The Center will also offer crisis intervention,/rapid response, case management, medication support and monitoring, intensive care coordination across multiple agencies, as well as intensive home-based services when applicable.

(left to right) Dr. James Brinton, Olive Crest Trustee, who along with his wife Lorraine, started the Olive Crest Desert Communities Chapter here 20 years ago, Lorraine Brinton, Olive Crest Trustee, Donald Verleur, CEO of Olive Crest, Patrick Evans, who served as Emcee for the new Counseling Center opening, and Tracy Fitzsimmons, Executive Director of Olive Crest, Inland & Desert Communities.

“Our services will be provided at whatever sites and in whatever combinations are necessary to address our consumers’ mental health needs,” states Duguay.  “The opening of this Counseling Center is an extension of our agency’s strategic vision of “Child Abuse Stops Here®.”  According to the County Department of Public Social Services, more than 31,000 allegations of abuse or neglect are made to their hotline annually.  Our intent is to divert children from the welfare system by providing them with prevention and/or early intervention services long before trouble in the home leads to incidents of substantiated abuse or neglect.”

The Center’s staff will start with two clinicians, a peer specialist, a parent partner, and a program manager, providing direct care services.

(left to right) Hyla Wetherill and Judy Sanders, Event Committee Members for the opening of the new Olive Crest Counseling Center in Palm Desert, inviting guests to select a stuffed animal and write a personal note to the children Olive Crest serves for the holidays.

“Our experienced staff is highly-trained and brings outstanding expertise to this Counseling Center,” states Rhonna Tan, MA, LMFT, Mental Health Director.  “Our clinicians are bilingual, and experienced with the population we look forward to serving.  Olive Crest’s mental health services are designed to be highly individualized and comprehensive in nature.  Given the complexity and severity of the population Olive Crest serves, we constantly monitor the symptomology and behaviors of our clients upon intake and discharge from the program, and we modify our approach to engagement, planning, implementation, and the transition of services based upon current and relevant data.  Our programming is data informed and child focused, which is highly effective when treating children with complex needs.  Our clinicians are trained in several modalities and areas of focus in therapy, to meet the complex needs of the children and youth we serve, including Trauma Informed Care, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Seeking Safety, Substance Dependency, Aggression Replacement Training, Domestic Violence, Gang Awareness, Human Trafficking, etc.”


Since 1973, Olive Crest has transformed the lives of more than 150,000 abused, neglected, and at-risk children and their families.  Olive Crest is dedicated to the belief that “once an Olive Crest family, always an Olive Crest family.”  The organization’s commitment of helping children and families through a caring community goes well beyond the time of crisis.  The organization works tirelessly to meet the individual needs of kids in crisis by providing safe homes, counseling, and education for both youth and parents.  Olive Crest’s many innovative programs reflect the organization’s conviction that strengthening the family is one of the most powerful ways to help heal children.  With unwavering compassion, the Olive Crest family maintains a lifelong commitment to the youth and families it serves, even after they have graduated from their programs.

Olive Crest serves nearly 4,000 children and families each day throughout California, Nevada, and the Pacific Northwest.  For more information on Olive Crest, please call 1-800-550-CHILD (2445) or visit