The Power of Volunteerism and How One Volunteer Led to a $5 Million Grant


From left to right: Hillsides Board Chair Donna Ford, Hillsides Board Member The Rev. Canon Edward Sniecienski, Hillsides President and CEO Joseph M. Costa, Margie & Robert E. Petersen Foundation representatives Gigi Carleton and Kevin Strauch.

This week is National Volunteer Week. At last count Hillsides had approximately 350 volunteers. Some of them provide a number of one-on-one services for our residents and community-based clients such as tutoring while others serve by sponsoring and participating in special group activities for children and families. This is an extraordinary group of people who offer an indispensable service that augments and enriches the care we provide to those we serve.

When I speak with volunteers, I encourage them not to underestimate the impact they can have on our clients and the organization as a whole. As an example, one of our current volunteer board members, The Rev. Canon Edward Sniecienski, was recently speaking with a parishioner. In the course of the conversation, they realized they both had links to Hillsides. Deacon Ed is currently serving on our Board of Directors, and the parishioner is a former board member. After Deacon Ed mentioned Hillsides’ capital campaign to provide improvements to our Pasadena campus, the parishioner identified himself as a trustee of the Margie & Robert E. Petersen Foundation and indicated his willingness to entertain a solicitation from Hillsides to support the work we do with transition-aged youth. From that very serendipitous after-church conversation eventually came the largest gift to Hillsides in our 104-year-old history: $5 million. This extraordinary gift will not only support our services to transition-aged youth but will benefit our capital campaign for the first phase of the $17 million project.

Deacon Ed may have had some idea about the funding opportunity as a result of his conversation with his parishioner, but I think it is fair to say that no one appreciated how large or how significant the opportunity was. The attentiveness and mission-focus of this one board member has had an enormous impact on all those who will be served at the student center under construction that will now bear the name of Margie and Robert E. Petersen Student Center.

Like Deacon Ed all our volunteers have an impact on the children we serve, each in their own way. Regardless of the activity, effective volunteers are compelled by the needs of our clients, unwavering in their support, and tireless in advocating for our children, youth and families.

To Deacon Ed, the Margie & Robert E. Petersen Foundation, all our board members who are so generous with their time, talent and resources and to all those who volunteer at Hillsides, thank you! What we achieve as a result of the commitment and dedication of all our volunteers must never be underestimated. Especially considering it is National Volunteer Week, we ask you to consider volunteering your time at one of our many programs, confident that your volunteer services will help create lasting change for all those we serve. For more information, please contact Laura Kelso at 323-254-2274, ext. 1251 or

One Comment on “The Power of Volunteerism and How One Volunteer Led to a $5 Million Grant

  1. Joe That is a terific piece of news. I don’ think that we ever got a gift that large in my time at Hillsidea. Cogratulation
    John Hitchcock

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