For many years Hillsides has benefited from the availability of a chaplain, but funding constraints limited the chaplaincy to an occasional volunteer position. However, through a generous grant from the Angell Foundation, we are happy to announce the re-establishment of a chaplaincy program. As of this week, the Reverend Pat Hendrickson, an ordained Episcopal deacon, will be available on a part-time basis to serve as our chaplain.
As an organization rooted in the Episcopal Church, there has always been an element of our care for children that values the spiritual aspects of life. The chaplaincy is a way to provide an opportunity for clients and staff alike to have a resource to address this. The role of the chaplain is not associated with any particular sectarian agenda, but rather is directed toward providing pastoral care, an approach that is very common in a clinical or hospital setting.
More than organizing or directing worship, the chaplain serves as a type of ombudsmen whose presence is woven into the fabric of the services that are offered, being present to children, families and staff to respond to their needs, as appropriate, in the midst of challenges and joys.
I am so pleased that, once again, we are able to provide this service. Years of experience in this field has convinced me of the invaluable support that is derived from a good pastoral care program. Often it is the presence of the chaplain that provides a level of support and comfort that can significantly assist a child and family to address a very painful issue in a healing way.
This past year we have enjoyed the service of Kerri Backer, who served as a part-time chaplain, supported by a grant from PRISM, an Episcopal ministry working mostly with the incarcerated. Kerri did a great job and helped us to begin to reintroduce the chaplaincy. Once we had received the support of the Angell Foundation, we then sought to identify a more permanent chaplain and are happy to have found Rev. Hendrickson, who comes to us with extensive experience not only in pastoral care in a school setting, but also knowledgeable in special education and recreational services.
My hope is that this will be the start of a fully developed pastoral care program at Hillsides that will be integrated into treatment services and provide a unique component of care within the child welfare field.
Without the support of the Angell Foundation this would not be possible and indeed this program will be always be dependent on support from our donor community. Any assistance in further developing this service is greatly appreciated.