(left to right) Dr. James Brinton, Founder and Board Chair of Olive Crest Desert Communities, Judie Cothrun, Recipient of the 2019 Brinton Child Advocacy Award, Lorraine Brinton, Founder and Olive Crest Board Member, and Tracy Fitzsimmons, Executive Director of Olive Crest, Inland & Desert Communities.


By Madeline Zuckerman / Photos By Gregg Felson

Did you know that social isolation is a major cause of child abuse?

Did you know that 5 children die from abuse every day in our country?

Did you know that every 10 seconds a report of child abuse is made?


Close to 200 elegantly-attired guests turned out to lend support at Olive Crest’s VIVA LAS VEGAS Casino Night at Indian Wells Country Club. Co-chaired by Kristen Shalhoub and Amie Arbid, the evening featured a fun Vegas theme, complete with casino games, silent and live auctions, entertainment, and dinner. Close to $200,000 was raised to support Olive Crest’s vital programs and services!

(left to right) Event Emcee Patrick Evans of KESQ TV, Co-chair Amie Arbid, Co-chair Kristen Shalhoub, and Event Presenting Sponsor Peter Skaaning, Owner of RAPPORT INTERNATIONAL FURNITURE.

“We could not be more pleased with the outpouring of support for the amazing work Olive Crest does within our community,” stated Co-chairs Arbid and Shalhoub.  “Each year, Olive Crest takes these children out of danger in a crisis, places them in safe and loving homes, stabilizes these children’s lives, gives them tools for success, and ultimately places them in a “forever family,” a permanent home. These are successful outcomes for these kids,” they continued.     

Patrick Evans, KESQ’s Chief Meteorologist and Host of “EYE ON THE DESERT,” once again served as Event Emcee. The incomparable Michelle Westford-Cannon served as Live Auction Auctioneer.

“In the past 47 years, Olive Crest has helped transform the hearts, minds, and lives of over 130,000 children,” stated Tracy Fitzsimmons, Executive Director of Inland & Desert Communities for Olive Crest.   “In Riverside County, Olive Crest serves over 800 children and families every day!   Approximately 250 of that number is right here within the Coachella Valley.  What makes Olive Crest so special is our outcomes, which average 97% in the areas of Safety, Stability, and Permanency.  This is 33% higher than the national average!” she continued.

(left to right) Roger & Jan Johnson, long-time major Olive Crest supporters.

Judie Cothrun Selected As 2019 Brinton Child Advocacy Award Honoree.  The Brinton Child Advocacy Award is named in honor of Dr. and Mrs. James Brinton, Founders of the Desert Communities Region of Olive Crest.   

“Dr. Brinton and I are so pleased to present this year’s Child Advocacy Award to Judie Cothrun, a person with a giving heart, especially where at-risk children are concerned,” stated Lorraine Brinton.  

Judie Cothrun’s loving heart has always led her to work with children.  She initially volunteered and worked in Napa with kids who were on probation and who could not attend public school.  This led her to obtain her Teaching credential, working with high school students.  Upon moving to the desert and retiring from teaching in 1990, Cothrun learned about Olive Crest through some very dear friends.  As she explains it, she was blessed with an unexpected inheritance from her Mom, so she decided to give back specifically to children in need or at-risk. 

Several Event Highlights included a generous $50,000 challenge gift that was matched within minutes; another guest pledging a donation of $25,000 to help Olive Crest kids; another guest asking Rapport International Furniture to increase their donated Shopping Spree to $ 10,000, so he could purchase this live auction item; and a lucky bidder winning and then donating back El Paseo Jewelers’ donation of an exquisite Diamond bracelet, only to be auctioned off to two competitive bidders, thanks to Owner Raju Mehta’s donation of a second  diamond bracelet!

(left to right) Warren Smith, Wayne Prim, Rachelle Prim.

Event Presenting Sponsor once again was Rapport International Furniture.  Caesar’s Sponsors included El Paseo Jewelers and Shalhoub Family McDonalds, both of whom have been long-time Olive Crest supporters.  Additional Sponsors included Robann’s Jewelers, Desert Dental Spa, Renova Energy, Amie Arbid and Associates, Anthony Vineyards, and CRU Winery.

Exclusive Media Sponsors included LAMAR Outdoor Advertising, Palm Springs Life, KESQ News Channel 3, and CV 104.3 Radio.

Seen in the overflow crowd were Dr. James & Lorraine Brinton, Honoree Judie Cothrun & Richard Cothrun, Tracy Fitzsimmons, Angela Allen, Walter Mueller, Amie Arbid, Vincent Battaglia, Jan Lupia, Doug & Georgia Lee Lang, Peggy & Michael Berk, George & Nancy DeVries, Roger & Judy Kerchman, Dick Shalhoub & Tracy Smith, Rick & Kristen Shalhoub, Stacey Shalhoub, Kate Spates & Skip Paige, Roger & Jan Johnson, Warren & Cathy Smith, Harold & Marianne Wilkinson, Harold Wilkinson IV, Pat & Eileen Witte, and Julie Holmes.

For additional information please call 760- 848-4124 or visit www.olivecrest.org