(PASADENA, CA) Over 200 supporters, friends, and staff of Hillsides enjoyed a day of family fun, memories, and a program that included a speech by Pasadena mayor Bill Bogaard and a reenactment of the founding of Hillsides during the agency’s Founder’s Day celebration on September 15 from 2:00 p.m. – 4: 30 p.m. The event marked Hillsides 100 years of serving vulnerable youth and families throughout Southern California.
During the celebration, children enjoyed face painting, games, and having their photos taken with Minnie and Mickey Mouse while families nibbled on ice cream sundaes, popcorn, cupcakes, and fruit. Guests strolled through Hillsides’ historical display, which contained a timeline of important events, historical photos, and artifacts throughout the agency’s rich history. They also signed a “100 years” banner, which will be on display at other Hillsides events.
The highlight of the event was a program that kicked off with a welcome from Hillsides board chair, Karen Tanji, followed by a blessing by Father Robert J. Gaestel, the rector of the Church of Angels, which is adjacent to Hillsides main campus. Next came a reenactment of the founding of Hillsides by Episcopal Deaconess Evelyn Wile, who in 1913 created an orphanage for 13 children. During the skit, Wile shared her dream of creating a home for children in need, and the Bishop of the local diocese gave the home his blessing.
Following the skit, Joseph M. Costa, the chief executive officer of Hillsides, talked about Hillsides 100-year past and encouraged the crowd to look to the future as the agency is currently launching a $12 capital campaign to make much-needed improvements. “We thank you for all of your support throughout the years,” said Costa, “ and we look forward to your ongoing support in the years to come.”
Following Costa, Pasadena mayor Bogaard talked about his personal connection with Hillsides, when years ago, as a young attorney, he began his involvement as a member of the agency’s board of directors. The program ended with the musical musings and stylings of Rachael Worby, the artistic director and conductor of MUSE/IQUE, and a performance by a gifted violinist and a ballet dancer.
Several alumni of Hillsides attended the event, and for them, the photos in the historic display had personal significance. Ann Freeman, who lived at Hillsides from 1952-1954, lingered by the table of 1950 memorabilia. Her time at Hillsides changed her life forever – she met her husband there, and they’ve now been married for 56 years.
Another alumna, Marj Besemer, who lived at Hillsides from 1949-1950, got a surprise while looking at a photo taken in 1949. Among a group of girls putting together a puzzle, she was surprised to find that one of them -- a cute girl with freckles and a bow in her hair -- was her.
“There I am,” she said, shaking her head in wonderment. “That’s me at either age six or seven.”
An alumnus from the 1970s, Richard Mason, who brought several family and friends, was eager to see Hillsides because he had not been back in over 35 years. He made sure to shake the hand of the executive director while he was at Hillsides, John Hitchcock, who was in attendance for the event, and to thank Hitchcock for all Hillsides had done for him.
During the afternoon, guests also got the opportunity to view the charity’s “100 Faces of Hillsides” video, which is a sampling of 100 individuals who have made a difference to Hillsides or been impacted by what the organization does.
The centennial sponsors include Wells Fargo, The Walt Disney Company, and THE Magazine.
Founder’s Day is the culmination of nine months of centennial events, including a Centennial Gala and participation in the 2013 Rose Parade. This past year Hillsides has also rebranded with a new logo, mission statement, and redesigned website. The charity also achieved national accreditation through the New York-based Council on Accreditation (COA), demonstrating the best practice standards in the field of human services.
Founder’s Day was held on Hillsides’ main campus located at 940 Avenue 64 in Pasadena.
Hillsides has blossomed tremendously since its start in 1913. Today, it is a premier provider of behavioral healthcare and education services dedicated to improving the overall well-being and functioning of vulnerable children, youth, and their families. The organization provides high quality care, advocacy, and innovative services that promote safe, permanent environments where young people can thrive. For more information please visit www.Hillsides.org.
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Office: (323) 543-2800 ext. 128
Cell: (310) 713-8567