“Mom, I need help,” was the plea that Julius, 10, made to his mother. He was full of rage, skipping school, and running away from home. After a number of attempts trying to deal with the situation on her own, which brought her to the point of being afraid of her son’s violent outbursts, Rochelle sought help.
Eventually she was referred to Hillsides. Rochelle recalls that from the minute the two of them stepped foot on the peaceful 17-acre campus, “We were immediately drawn in and knew this was the place for Julius.” At Hillsides, Julius’ counselors and teachers taught him coping mechanisms to handle his anger. He learned to talk out his feelings rather than hold them in until he exploded. He also no longer felt the need to run away because he knew he was in a safe place surrounded by people who cared.
After an extended period, Julius was able to move back home. He continued to receive outpatient treatment to bolster his coping skills. Today, more than 15 years later, Julius is working for a social service agency, has a son of his own, and credits Hillsides with turning his life around. “If I hadn’t come here, I would probably be locked up… or worse,” he said.
Rochelle’s life has also been impacted. Grateful for the support she received from Hillsides, she has changed careers and is now employed by Hillsides as a parent partner. Her job is to assist families who have a child suffering from mental illness or behavioral challenges and make sure they get the resources they need.
Recently, Stacey Roth, the chief program officer at Hillsides, shared Julius and Rochelle’s story at the annual meeting of the Hillsides Board of Directors to illustrate how the full array of services offered by Hillsides creates lasting change in the lives of those we serve. Julius was one of the first children she served as a young social worker. Seventeen years later she is still in touch with him, and she marvels at how his life has changed. Once vulnerable, he is now in a position to be a supportive and caring father.
Sharing this story with the governing body of Hillsides emphasizes that the task of addressing the needs of those we serve does not fall just to the organization itself or any particular worker. All those who support our mission in any way play a role in helping us create lasting change for those we serve. Learn how you can help us sustain our important mission by visiting www.hillsides.org.