The vision for Olive Branch came out of the life experience of Olen and Lena Yoder and their adopted son with special needs. Below is the account of how their vision for Olive Branch was born:
Coming From, Heading Towards
Sitting down to put our vision on paper, our minds go back to the past years and what inspired our family to pursue a ministry like Olive Branch. Having a son in our own family with special needs, we began looking for a Christian home for high functioning, intellectually challenged adults. Sadly, we found nothing. Desperate, we began praying and seeking God for answers. Our family sent out thousands of letters and emails (under the name, "Pray the Lord Help Us") asking for advice and support in perhaps starting a home for these individuals. Responses poured in. Many people had the same need in their own homes.
We wept as we read letters from families desperate for a place where their son, daughter, brother, or sister would be loved and accepted while being able to pursue their dreams. They need assistance in securing a job that fulfills them and has been modified to suit their particular need, a place where they can dream big about the future while striking a balance with their limitations. They need appropriate independence, 24 hour supervision, while still leading a normal, non-institutional life. To meet the needs of these individuals is quite a challenge, but we received overwhelming encouragement and offers for assistance.
The Lord has opened many doors and brought many people into our lives with dreams and a vision to help start Olive Branch. A steering committee was formed and we moved forward in finding a suitable property for the Olive Branch ranch. Volunteer supervisors will help with the daily work experience, grocery shopping, meal preparation, and of course all the fine times, too! Pray for us as we continue to move forward. We are excited about Olive Branch. Pray the Lord Help Us!
The Olive Branch board of directors was formed in 2010 under the guidance of a steering committee comprised of Clair Stauffer (Reading, PA), Eldon Falb (Columbiana, OH), Jon Hochstetler (Salem OH), Olen Yoder (Minerva, OH), Aaron Martin (Salem, OH), Wayne Falb (Leetonia, OH), Justin Yoder (Minerva, OH), David Miller (Minerva, OH), and Carol Landis (Squaw Valley, CA).