With its 185th anniversary in 2022, Hillside is one of the country’s oldest continually operating nonprofit organizations. But an even longer history is enjoyed by Hillside’s founder, the Rochester Female Charitable Society, which celebrates its bicentennial this year.

Two hundred years ago, in the earliest days of the RFCS, their philanthropic acts were a literal door-to-door affair. “It was a ‘boots on the ground’ effort then,” says Laura Swett, the Society’s president. “The ladies saw profound needs among the poor, the sick, the needy, and they would go to people’s homes to help.”

Matching their resolve to the needs of the community, the Society members secured the funding that resulted in the February 28, 1837, creation of the Rochester Female Association for the Relief of Orphan and Destitute Children—known today as Hillside.

“Hillside is deeply grateful for the foresight and partnership of the Rochester Female Charitable Society,” says Maria Cristalli, Hillside President and CEO. “Philanthropy makes our work possible, and that’s never been more true than in the case of the RFCS.”

Today, the Society’s 27 members meet six times a year—including an October 2021 gathering at Hillside’s Monroe Campus in Rochester—and continue to review requests to fund worthy community causes. “Our mission has been consistent through all these years,” Swett says.

The Society’s enduring legacy is remarkable—and its ongoing charitable impact remains strong.

Community support makes Hillside’s mission possible. Support Hillside today.

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