By Madeline Zuckerman

(left to right) Karen Brown, Luncheon Emcee, and Kristen Salvesen, who was the winner of the stunning Alexander McQueen designer purse, valued at $1,500.

Close to 400 elegantly-attired luncheon guests enjoyed an afternoon of fun, shopping for that “must have” designer purse at the highly-acclaimed Olive Crest Annual Pick-A-Purse Luncheon at the Ontario Doubletree Hotel in Ontario.  The ladies and gentlemen in attendance were definitely on a mission — to support Olive Crest, an organization dedicated to preventing child abuse, to treating and educating at-risk children, and to preserving the family. . .“One Life At A Time®.”

Karen Brown, a realtor with Coldwell Banker Kivett-Teeters Associates, served as Emcee, and also served on the Planning Committee for this year’s event. “Olive Crest has been near and dear to my heart for many years,” said Brown.  One of my dearest friends grew her family with the help of Olive Crest, and that is how this amazing organization first appeared on my radar.  Eight years ago, I was invited to attend this event and it was right up my alley.  From an early age, helping others and doing what I could with what I had was important to me.  Over the years, that love for helping others continued, and although I may not have always had a lot of money to just write a check, I knew in my heart I had time to give to this worthy cause. Volunteering at Olive Crest makes my heart MORE than happy!  I am so proud to be part of this fabulous event, because we all had so much fun making this magic happen.  I hope after being here today that some of these  lovely guests in attendance will feel it in their hearts to do what they can with what they have, to start their chapter of helping Olive Crest do the life-changing work it has been doing for 50 years.”

Nancy DeVries selecting the purse of her dreams at the event!

With the price of admission, guests enjoyed the scrumptious lunch, featuring a summer garden salad, pan seared chicken breast served with forest mushroom sauce, wild rice, and asparagus, followed by a delectable chocolate mousse cake that was sure to satisfy any sweet lover.  Guests were then given the opportunity to participate in many exciting opportunity drawings, to hear about Olive Crest celebrating its 50th Anniversary Milestone, and to hear about the many transformational programs and services the organization offers for at-risk children and families in our community.

(left to right) George Driessen, Caroline Driessen, Dr, Natalie Driessen, and Katelyn Messina.

Some of the featured designer bags the ladies clamored for included Coach, Kate Spade, Patricia Nash, Michael Kors, Radley London, Thacker Ronnie, Karl Lagerfeld Paris, DKNY, as well as, other well-known designer brands.  Kristen Salvesen was the lucky winner of the exquisite Alexander McQueen purse valued at $1,500.00.   And her Mom, Kate Salveson, was the lucky winner of the stunning  Ben Bridge diamond necklace!!!!

“This year’s theme is “Heart Of Gold” and this theme is all about Olive Crest celebrating its 50th Anniversary milestone,” said Tracy Fitzsimmons, Executive Director of Olive Crest Inland & Desert Communities.  “Due to the heartbreaking and significant increase in the number of child abuse and neglect cases reported in our community over the last five years, Olive Crest realizes more must be done to respond to this crisis.  Through the generosity of the many amazing women who attend this event, we are able to raise tangible support for the thousands of local children and families who need help. Every year I am honored and humbled to see the dedication and the eagerness of those who attend to truly make an impact in our community.”

(left to right) Tracy Fitzsimmons, Executive Director of Olive Crest Inland & Desert Communities, and Event Sponsor Dr. Natalie Driessen, Owner of Dermatology & Plastic Surgery Specialists of Palm Desert & La Jolla

As everyone was enjoying their lunch, a well-deserved round of applause erupted for this year’s generous luncheon Sponsors, who included Julie Dirksen, Culver-Newlin, Toyota of Riverside, HUB International, Dermatology & Plastic Surgery Specialists, Pacific Premier Bank, US Bank, Kaiser Permanente, Karen Brown Realtor with Coldwell Banker Kivett-Teeters Associates, Pam Swift Divorce Mediation Services, Ontario Host Lions, Ford Fritts Riverside Auto Center, Open Door Escape Games, Provident Bank, Altura Credit Union, and Arrowhead Orthopedics.

Tracy Fitzsimmons then stepped to the podium to bring attendees up-to-date on Olive Crest’s crucial and life-changing programs for abused, neglected, and at-risk youth.  Walter Mueller, Director of Development for Olive Crest, explained Olive Crest’s monthly Kids At Heart Monthly Pledge Program, inspiring many guests to sign up on the spot.

(left to right) Nancy DeVries, Trustee of Olive Crest Desert Communities, and granddaughter Mikayla Kragenbrink.

It was now time to engage guests in the highly-anticipated Pick-A-Purse portion of the program, where guests were called up in small groups to select a purse of their dreams from a dazzling array of designer purses.  Guests proceeded to pick a number from a basket that determined the order of that individual’s purse selection.  If a guest picked a lower number, that guest was one of the first to select a purse. If a guest picked a higher number, that guest  would pick their new purse later on in the selection process. Purses were refreshed throughout the event, so chances were good that each guest would get the purse of their dreams!

At the conclusion of the luncheon, guests were invited to mark their calendars for several important Olive Crest upcoming fundraisers, including a Riverside Signature event on SEPTEMBER 8, 2023, Olive Crest Golf Invitational on FEBRUARY 26, 2024, and next year’s Pick-a-Purse Luncheon on May 5, 2024.

For additional information on how you can volunteer or support Olive Crest, please call 1-800-550-child (2445) or visit www.olivecrest.org