Dream come true
As part of our centennial celebrations, we did some research on the founder of Hillsides, Deaconess Evelyn Wile. We discovered she was a true pioneer in her field and that although she died when she was only 49, in her lifetime she achieved much–certainly more than perhaps she ever imagined.
Evelyn Wile was born in 1877 in Boston, Massachusetts. She was, however, an adventurer and before settling in Pasadena traveled and worked in South Carolina, San Diego, New York, and Hawaii. This amount of travel was a considerable feat at that time. These travels seem to point to her professional development in the field of child care. With each stop in her journey, the deaconess grew in her conviction of what was best for children who for whatever reason were without their families. It is fair to say that she was not just driven by professional interests, but by a strong conviction that her work was indeed a calling rooted in her religious beliefs. So strong was her commitment that she dedicated herself exclusively to those in her care.
Part of the legacy Deaconess Wile left to Hillsides is an ethic that persists to this day, embraced by subsequent leaders like my predecessor John Hitchcock who insisted that children, their well-being, and success comes first. All that she did was ultimately a refection of what was best for those she served. We see this in her insistence that the organization, although founded in East Los Angeles, find its permanent home in the countryside free from the stressor of the city. Another example was her commitment to conduct this important work in a less institutionalized setting than what was common in her era, favoring a more home-like cottage living environment.
As much as she was driven by a strong sense of mission, she was quite accomplished as an administrator and fundraiser. Documents that capture the early activities of the governing body indicate how savvy she was at securing some very influential members of the community to provide the financial support required to establish the organization. In the thirteen years during which she established and led the organization, she managed to lay the foundation for not only an array of services for those in her care, but also provided the vision for the organization that endures to this day.
Deaconess Wile measured her success when a child in her care had the confidence and ability to move on to independence. The same is true today. In addition to the success of creating a lasting change for all those we serve we also consider ourselves successful to the extent that we fulfill Wile’s dream of being an indispensible resource for very vulnerable children.
Deaconess Wile had many who shared her dream and lent their support to see it fulfilled. The same is true for us today. The recent 100 Faces campaign captured some of those who continue to help us fulfill the great mission of Hillsides to create a lasting change for the children, youth, and families we serve.
All this will be celebrated in a very special way with our Founder’s Day event that will be held this Sunday, September 15, from 2:00 PM to 4:30 PM on the Hillsides Campus on Avenue 64. Please join us as we recall Deaconess Wile’s dream and our celebration of how it continues to be fulfilled in all we do.