By Hillsides CEO Joseph M. Costa
The pages of the Los Angeles Times capture our attention more often than not because they report on breaking news, from crime and violence to national and world affairs. So it was refreshing that on New Year’s Day it ran an inspiring story about one of this year’s Tournament of Roses Princesses who overcame challenges to join the ranks of the tournament’s royalty. In telling her story, Princess Donaly Marquez also told the story of the community-based services provided by Hillsides that gave her and her family the support necessary to overcome obstacles and have hope restored. What a great way to start the new year. The article left us inspired and hopeful that what we do at Hillsides does indeed create lasting change.
As an organization, we confront many challenges: fiscal constraints because of inadequate public funding, burdensome regulatory requirements, and any number of risks associated with caring for the most vulnerable. Our direct staff bear the brunt of the challenges as they engage children, youth, and families who have been traumatized by a public system of care that in spite of worthy intentions, is poorly equipped to meets the demands of such clients. However, resolve and a clear sense of mission drives us as an organization to leverage what resources are available to be an indispensible resource for young people like Princess Donaly and her family. In spite of the odds, great things happen, lives are changed, hope is restored, and dreams are realized.
As we begin the new year, we do so inspired by the impact that we have on the lives of so many like Princess Donaly. In an environment consumed by tragedies, challenges, and obstacles, the story of this young woman offers us a glimpse at what is truly effective. Success is not necessarily the result of generous organizations, effective programs, or even the efforts of well- equipped providers. Success is the result of looking beyond the defined obstacle to the potential that everyone has and gently and graciously nurturing it until it becomes realized. Someone believed in this young woman’s potential; someone saw beyond her family’s challenges and tapped into their dreams for a better and full life. As a community of professionals and volunteers, Hillsides embraces the dreams wrapped at times in trauma and leverages everything we have to make those aspirations a reality. Begin the new year by being inspired.