Valley News -

By Lynn Effinger
Special to Valley News 

Oak Grove Center shines bright


Last updated 12/20/2018 at 11:31pm

Oak Grove Center used to be one of the best kept secrets of the Temecula Valley. Not anymore. It has become a beacon of light that is known to so many throughout the community and beyond, due to the Herculean efforts of CEO Tammy Wilson and her team. It is certainly a success story worth telling, especially during the holiday season.

Oak Grove Center is a nonprofit residential, educational and treatment center with multiple campuses for children throughout California who have psychological, emotional and behavioral problems and special needs. Oak Grove Center’s stated mission is to rebuild the lives of at-risk children and their families through education, healing, restoring relationships, building character and instilling hope. And it’s important to note that they are helping to rebuild the lives of not only the children themselves, but also of their families, since everyone is affected in one way or another.

The unique center serves 76 children who live on their main Murrieta campus, up to 100 day-students who attend their nonpublic school and an additional 50 students who attend their Perris campus, Oak Grove at the Ranch. Their newest location, Oak Grove in the Desert in Bermuda Dunes, has been providing services to youth and families since 2010 in the Coachella Valley near Indian Wells. Oak Grove offers California’s at-risk children a wide spectrum of services: education, wraparound, sports and the arts, programs for autism and independent living, partial hospitalization, outpatient services, addiction recovery and relapse programs and more.

Wilson is at the heart of Oak Grove Center. Since taking over the reins of leadership in 2004, she has proven to be a hands-on CEO who is invested in every aspect of daily operations related to the student and resident programs, employee relations and all other matters.

Wilson and her team’s fundraising efforts have enabled the main facility to grow to include a gymnasium, enhance the educational curriculum with state-of-the-art technology with a science emphasis and incorporate several art mediums including painting, drawing, dance, choir, cheer, flags, drama, writing and public speaking. The inclusion of arts is an invaluable tool in the therapeutic process, Wilson said. Children who have difficulties with expression find the arts offer them a means of telling their story and initiating healing in a safe and supportive environment.

Another form of “art” that has recently been introduced at Oak Grove Center to rave reviews is their culinary school program: Oak Grove Culinary Creations. The new program teaches students not only how to prepare a wide variety of cookies, cakes, pies and pastries, but it also teaches them teamwork, a strong work ethic and lifelong skills. The program caters for local businesses and organizations for special events such as parties, weddings, birthdays and more.

Due to the generosity of Truax Development, the center was able to work out of ground floor space in the Truax Building in Old Town Temecula through December and possibly into January of next year. The opportunity allows them to showcase the talents of the students, the quality of products and service, as well as teach baking, vocational and business skills, while helping raise money for Oak Grove’s culinary program.

Oak Grove also offers “Coffee for Compassion,” which includes hand-crafted lattes and other hot drinks. Anyone interested in learning more about this special program is invited to email [email protected] or call (951) 677-5599, ext. 2271. Cookies, desserts, coffee, breads and other specialty items are available for sale in Old Town Temecula at 41923 Second St. around the corner from city hall.

Wilson sets the tone for the youth with respect to community service, having served on the board of the Murrieta Chamber of Commerce, participated as a mentor in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards for the past several years, served on the Loma Linda University Medical Center-Murrieta Community Partnership Council and as member of the Temecula Noon Rotary Club.

“We of course recognize the many, many contributions to the success rate for helping not only turn around lives of at risk children by Tammy and her incredible team at Oak Grove, but also want to recognize the invaluable support of our donors, the community at large and others who continue to support our life-changing, and in some cases life-saving efforts,” Barry Soper, the Oak Grove Center board chairman, said.

In addition to supporting the children Oak Grove serves, Wilson is also supportive of her staff, acknowledging the contributions made by the entire Oak Grove team. She is a role model who definitely leads by example. To ensure the overall success of the program, she works hard to make certain that each area and department feels supported and are operating at their maximum efficiency. Through her efforts and those of her team, Wilson has recently catapulted Oak Grove Center into becoming one of a small group of programs that is licensed as a short term residential therapeutic program.

While Wilson said she truly doesn’t want the spotlight focused so much on her, it is worth noting that this past year she was awarded California state Sen. Jeff Stone’s Woman of the Year, Kiwanis Club of Temecula Valley Citizen of Year and the Murrieta/Wildomar Chamber of Commerce Visionary Award. By living up to their slogan, “Empower Success and Transform Lives,” Oak Grove Center has risen to prominence and has become a shining light in the valley.


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