Christmas Eve at the Langham

Every year around this time I check in with Tom Johnson, the director of our Residential Treatment Servicesand ask the same question: how many residents will be here for Christmas? In spite of our efforts to increase a greater connection with families, 25 of our residents were here on Christmas Eve. When you consider how memorable Christmas Eve is for so many of us as we gather with our families and enjoy the rituals that mark our commemoration of this holiday, you can’t help but feel disappointed that these 25 children will have to make do with being away from their homes and families.
In an effort to never-the-less make Christmas Eve memorable for those residents at Hillsides, each year the Hillsides Volunteer Network sponsors and hosts a Christmas Eve party at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena. One of the original ballrooms is reserved, tables are wonderfully decorated, a DJ provides music, and a scrumptious meal is served. There are games for the children, prizes and gifts for all and, of course, a visit from Santa, who although has a busy schedule, makes time to stop by. We are so grateful to HVN for making this wonderful event possible, helping these children to enjoy and celebrate this special evening.
As the celebration was coming to an end, the DJ offered the microphone to residents who would want to express their thanks. I will admit that this “open mic” moment always leaves me a little concerned not knowing what might comes out of the mouths of our Hillsides residents, but as always what they shared became one of the most memorable moments of that evening for me and the volunteers.
One girl who has been at Hillsides a short time summed it all up by saying, “Thank you, Hillsides, for making sure that we always have a lot of fun!” Isn’t that what it’s all about, helping these youngsters get beyond the trauma they have experienced to, once again, enjoy being carefree children.
Although this holiday party is a long standing celebration at Hillsides, it is a great example of an act of kindness on the part of an extraordinarily dedicated group of volunteers that touches the hearts of very vulnerable children.
And while this time of year we celebrate the beginning of daylight when it slowly increases to break through the dormancy of winter, brighter days await us. With each act of kindness we dispel the hardships so many endure and restore a sense of hope. To all those who generously supported us at Hillsides this holiday season, thank you!
By the way…Look for us in the Tournament of Rose Parade as we hitch a ride on one of two Wells Fargo stagecoaches. Thank you to Wells Fargo for graciously featuring Hillsides as we kick off our centennial year celebration.

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