Steve and Cyndi Howell are the founders and Directors of the Olive Branch. After working for six years as houseparents for adults with special needs, they knew their life’s work was to care for adults with developmental disabilities. God gave Steve a vision in the spring of 1992 of a home for high functioning adults. Steve was to name the program The Olive Branch, New Beginnings. This was representative of the dove Noah sent out after the flood that returned with an olive branch in it’s beak. The olive branch was a sign of mankind’s new beginnings. The Olive Branch is a home where men and women with disabilities experience “new beginnings.”
The Olive Branch incorporated in 1993 as a not-for-profit organization, receiving a 501(c)(3) status in that same year. The first member, Bob, came almost immediately after God gave Steve the vision. The first house God provided was right next door, purchased with no down payment and the seller lowering the asking price! John, Donna, and Bill came into the program in the next two years. When Donna told her parents she wanted to come and live at the Olive Branch, Steve and Cyndi began looking for another house. Miraculously, God provided a house that was adjacent to the existing Olive Branch properties. He also provided the means to buy it: $10,400 in just three weeks!
In 1995, a young married couple were in crisis and needed a place to live and assistance with living skills. This young couple had been married for three years and were trying to live on one salary. The Olive Branch had room for them and felt God led them to them. The Olive Branch had become a refuge for married couples with disabilities.
Two years later another family contacted Cyndi about placement for their son. The Olive Branch had no room for another man but knew God had sent him. Steve and Cyndi’s next door neighbor, a local pastor and his wife, had their house for sale. The price was more than Steve and Cyndi could afford and Cyndi was new on a job after graduating from college. God had other ideas! The pastor told Steve God had told him to sell his house to the Olive Branch. Steve and Cyndi were astonished! In record breaking time, God did it again: this time the pastor donated $2,500 toward the down payment! The Olive Branch now had a fourth house and a new member.
The winter of 1998-1999 brought four new members. Each had their own particular needs. Steve and Cyndi stepped out in faith and leased another house which God promptly filled! Not only did God bring two more men, but two staff members to live on the property to lighten the load for Steve and Cyndi. Jim came with expertise in building and maintenance while Eric came with knowledge of caring for others. Both became certified caregivers.
In November, 1998, another young couple joined the Olive Branch family. In order to provide assistance to this newly married couple, God supplied a newer mobile to replace one of the older ones. He then provided the means to pay for it! God has always provided when there has been a need.
Summer of 2001 God brought four new men who have made the Olive Branch their home. Later in 2004, a family intent on placing their son, financed the purchase of an adjoining property and their son joined the Olive Branch family in June.
The past ten years have brought several new men and even an older female resident.
Currently the Olive Branch has seven houses, with twelve residents living in four and three staff member families living in the other three. Our license allows us to serve thirteen residents. There is currently one opening.
The Olive Branch is a faith-based Christian ministry and does not receive any government funding. The Olive Branch depends on fees, work done in the community, donations and fund raisers to meet operation costs. God is faithful to meet the needs of the Olive Branch, whether they are financial, material, spiritual or physical.