When former residents come to campus to visit, typically the first thing they ask is something like, “Is Melvyn still here?” “Can I see Momma Lucy?” or “How is Jo Jo doing? Can I say hi?”
Melvyn Washington, Lucy “Momma Lucy” Garabedian, and Jo Jo White are all three long-term employees at Hillsides. While past residents are of course grateful for the services they received here at Hillsides, often it’s the people who wind up making the biggest impact on them.
One of the most satisfying experiences for any of us on staff is when the care that has been offered is recognized. Melvyn, for example, says it’s a “huge honor” when former clients ask to see him. But we also feel heartened when any of our staff are acknowledged even if we were not personally singled out.
Recently, when an employee in our financial services department was at the checkout counter of a store, serendipitously, the clerk noticed her Hillsides ID badge. The clerk then introduced himself and mentioned how Hillsides, “had saved his life.” This staff member left the encounter proud of her role in supporting the life-changing services offered our clients, and then was quick to share with staff the impact that was made on this young man’s life.
The fast-paced, intense nature of the work at Hillsides is sustained by employees who ceaselessly give all they have to those they serve. It is always edifying to have their efforts acknowledged, especially when you consider the challenging nature of the work and the stamina required to persevere.
What sustains the employee who forgoes more lucrative opportunities to make a career of serving vulnerable children, youth, and families? Inevitably, their dedication is rooted in a personal link to those they work with — that allows them to empathize, understand, and be effective. They are buoyed by a resolve to make a difference, the returning residents, and the occasional serendipitous encounter that assures them their efforts made a difference.
We are so fortunate to have members of our staff who have dedicated decades to the care of the children, and thank them for the contributions they have made toward our goal to create lasting change.
Today, we have posted a “behind-the-scenes” story on our website that takes a look at some of our most valuable staff members. In this story, you’ll meet six incredibly dedicated long-term employees, learn how rare such longevity is in the industry, and hear in their own voices what has kept them at Hillsides all these years – 180 in total. As part of Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, we will publish profiles of former residents whose lives were impacted by these and other Hillsides staff, so please keep checking our website for more stories.