Inspired by World-Class Chefs and Uplifting Role Models, Generous Supporters Help Olive Crest net $220,000 At "Harvesting Hope for the Olive Crest Kids"

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Guests Are Treated to the Culinary Genius of Bravo TV’s Top Chef All-Star Fabio Viviani and Food Network’s Cupcake Wars Winner Casey Reinhardt, In an Evening Supported by the Generosity of Southern California’s Grocery Industry Under the Guidance of Honorary Chair Mike Donnelly, President of Ralphs Grocery Company Funds Raised Benefit Olive Crest’s Project Independence, Which Empowers Young Adults With the Practical Life Skills They Need to Lead Healthy and Productive Lives

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Casey Reinhardt (left) of Casey's Cupcakes and Top Chef All-Star Fabio Viviani brought their talents to Olive Crest's Harvesting Hope for the Olive Crest Kids. Viviani wowed guests with a cooking demo and donated his services in the evening's live auction while Reinhardt served up dozens of delicious cupcakes to the more than 300 enthusiastic supporters in attendance.

At Ralphs, we are dedicated to our communities and that's exactly why we support the great work that Olive Crest does.

Feasting on the delicious creations of Bravo TV’s Top Chef All-Star Fabio Viviani and Food Network’s Cupcake Wars winner Casey Reinhardt, more than 300 distinguished and generous Southern California residents celebrated Olive Crest’s popular springtime fundraising event, “Harvesting Hope for the Olive Crest Kids”—netting $220,000 during the course of the evening. Funds raised benefit Olive Crest’s Project Independence, a transitional living program that provides safe and affordable housing, builds a support network and teaches essential life skills to foster youth, 15–24 years of age, to help them become independent and successful adults. Project Independence changes lives by providing a sense of family through counseling and mentors.

Held at the legendary Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, Harvesting Hope for the Olive Crest Kids featured an enticing culinary presentation by Chef Fabio, samplings of Reinhardt’s famed “Casey’s Cupcakes,” a Bertolli Olive Oil tasting, wine tastings, silent and live auctions—with a surprise entry by Chef Fabio—and music by DJ Trey Jarvis, who also served as auctioneer for the night. During the evening, three Project Independence alumni were honored for the outstanding examples they set, and Tarae Graves, the Project Independence “Woman of the Year,” gave a moving address to the guests.

“Harvesting Hope is always an amazing evening that marries great fun with a truly great cause—and this year’s celebration offered a particularly memorable combination of inspiration and motivation!” said Donald Verleur, CEO of Olive Crest. “We’re most grateful to our star chefs for nourishing—and wowing—our guests, and we applaud the Project Independence honorees who offered such outstanding examples of grace, ingenuity and determination.

“I’ve been proud to serve as Honorary Chair of this event for several years now, and I’m thrilled that it just gets bigger and better every year,” said Mike Donnelly, president of Ralphs Grocery Company. “At Ralphs, we are dedicated to our communities and that’s exactly why we support the great work that Olive Crest does.”

The evening kicked off with a Bertolli Olive Oil tasting and select wine tastings, followed by a highly entertaining on-stage demonstration of Chef Fabio Viviani’s Mediterranean Style Pan Roasted Chicken with Grilled Apricot. Guests also enjoyed savory bites of Chef Fabio’s Roasted Baby Potatoes with Sausage and Ricotta. Viviani, Bravo TV’s Top Chef All-Stars Season 8 competitor, Top Chef Season 5 “Fan Favorite,” and Bertolli Olive Oil Brand Ambassador is the owner of Café Firenze in Moorpark, California and Firenze Osteria in Toluca Lake, California.

During the live auction, Chef Fabio delighted the crowd with his surprise entry into the impressive array of live-auction items up for bid: offering a four-course meal for 6–8 people created by Chef Fabio in the privacy of the winner’s home. The stellar package was the subject of excited bidding, and was finally won by two couples, Kylie Schuyler and Douglas Hodge and Geoff and Lucy Moore, for $6,000—the highest winning bid of the evening.

“Cooking and sharing great food with family and friends has always been my way of showing my heart,” said Viviani. “So I was honored to be asked to share my talents as a way to help the young people of Olive Crest. In fact, I got so caught up in the spirit of it that I couldn’t resist contributing to the live auction—and I’m honored to have helped raise so much money for this excellent, worthy cause.”

Throughout the night, guests enjoyed the luscious cupcake creations of Casey Reinhardt, owner of “Casey’s Cupcakes” in Laguna Beach and at the Mission Inn in Riverside, and the winner of Food Network’s popular competition show, Cupcake Wars. Reinhardt’s cupcakes will now be featured in Bloomingdales stores throughout Southern California. Even at the young age of 25, Reinhardt is already a longtime Olive Crest supporter, serving as honorary youth chair at previous fundraisers for the non-profit.

“My parents, Kelly and Duane Roberts, have inspired me for years with their commitment to Olive Crest and to the at-risk children whom Olive Crest serves,” said Casey. “So I was thrilled to have the chance to bring together two of my favorite activities in one night: feeding people cupcakes and helping this outstanding organization!”

Three “graduates” of Olive Crest’s Project Independence were honored during the evening: Roshanda Crain and Kevin Villicana were presented with certificates of achievement for serving as outstanding role models to the young people of Olive Crest. Tarae Graves, a recent cum laude graduate of Cal State Fullerton, received the first Project Independence “Woman of the Year Award.” Graves is the only Guardian Scholar in CSUF’s Class of 2009 with dual majors—human services and criminal justice. Graves’ passion for issues surrounding foster care and juveniles has led her to chart a future course toward child advocacy. She has worked at the CSUF Children’s Center and University Police, as well as with young girls on probation. She also participated on the track team. Graves has been accepted into the master’s program in social work at Cal State Fullerton and was awarded the Dr. Robert Palmer Fellowship. At Harvesting Hope, Graves spoke movingly about the role Olive Crest’s Project Independence played in her life during a critical time of transition into adulthood.

“As a foster child, you're officially out of 'the system' and on your own after 18—no matter your level of preparedness,” said Graves. “Project Independence provided me with a place to live and financial support so that I could continue with my college education and stay focused on my career goals. In addition, the program introduced me to my case manager, Victoria Falcon, who has become like family to me. She continues to provide me with invaluable emotional support and is there for me during all the ups and downs of life. I'm truly humbled by the care, concern and generosity of spirit shown by everyone involved in Project Independence."

Debbie Ferrée, Vice Chairman and Chief Merchandising Officer of DSW Inc., and Christi Haley Stover, CEO, Platinum Resource Group, served as event co-chairs, along with Grocery Industry Committee Co-Chairs Mickie Sharp-Villanueva, Vice President / Warehouse Beverage, Hansen Beverage Company, and Chuck Balassa, Regional Business Manager, Nestlé Direct Store Delivery.
Harvesting Hope for the Olive Crest Kids was made possible by the hard work of two volunteer committees who worked hand-in-hand to bring the evening to fruition—the Event Committee and the Grocery Industry Committee.

Event Committee members include: Darrel Anderson, retired, Knott-Anderson Enterprises; Mark Anderson, TrueNorth International; Tiffany Ashland, Trabuco Canyon philanthropist; Lorraine Bader, Seven Gables North; Steve Bernardy, Merrill Lynch; Dan Brussell, WCH Group; Paul Cannon, Goodrich, Thomas, Cannon & Reeds, LLP; Justis Cook Charay, Don & Sons; Pati Cinkle, Alar Staffing Corp.; Lawrence Henry, Union Bank; Nate Kuchera, Coast Capital Group; Jeff Mathews, Arden Limited Partnership; Mike Mattos, enCards; Marcy McKenna, Simply Solved Innovations; William Meehan, Rutan & Tucker, LLP; John Melbon, USI Insurance Services; Cindi Morales, Newport Beach philanthropist; Lisa Neal, Rutan & Tucker, LLP; Bill Neavel, T.D. Service Financial Corporation; Kelly Neavel, The Giardinelli Law Group, APC; Paul Nienow, NIENOW & TIERNEY, LLP; Glenn Nishibayashi, University of California, Los Angeles; Kylie Schuyler, Newport Beach philanthropist; Terri Sjodin, Sjodin Communications; Sarah Swee, AECOM; Leslie Wulff, Surfside community leader; and Jennifer Young, Platinum Resource Group.

The Grocery Industry Committee members are: Mary Armstrong, Fresh Dairy Direct; Allan Baum, Rowen Sales & Marketing LLC; Blake Buckley, Winery Exchange; Vic Chiono, Coca-Cola Refreshments; Paul Christianson, Christianson West, LLC; Bob Paul, ARSG Merchandising; Brianne Van Scotter, Hobert-Walters, Inc.; and Dave Van Winkle, The Performance Group.

All Harvesting Hope guests received a specially designed DSW tote filled with gifts to remember the evening by, including copies of Chef Viviani’s favorite recipes; a bottle of Bertolli Olive Oil; and a cornucopia of gourmet food and beverage items courtesy of the grocery industry sponsors.

Media Contacts
Alison Hill     714.444.9731, ext. 201, alison(at)currentpr(dot)com
Jim DeNuccio     714.444.9731, ext. 202, jim(at)currentpr(dot)com

About Olive Crest (
Since 1973, Olive Crest has transformed the lives of over 50,000 abused, neglected, and at-risk 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. With unwavering compassion, the Olive Crest family maintains a lifelong commitment to the youth and families we serve even after they have graduated from our programs.

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


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