Messages from the President & CEO

Hillside DE&I Update — December 2022

Among the many ongoing examples of Hillside’s commitment to DE&I, the recently completed pilot of our leadership diversity program stands out this month. The program was launched in July, with a primary goal of strengthening the diversity of leaders throughout our agency—creating new opportunities for advancement among interested employees of color, and further enhancing our ability to serve the community through a DE&I lens.

Of the six employees who participated in the pilot, one has already accepted a promotion within Hillside—and leaders will continue to engage with her fellow participants to make sure they have the opportunities they deserve for their own future advancement. In the meantime, our Executive DE&I Council and our Organizational Development team are unpacking the learnings from the pilot program to share the benefits more broadly.

The leadership diversity program is expected to return in 2023, and more exciting and thought-provoking DE&I work is ongoing at Hillside. For now, please accept our best wishes for a joyous holiday season—no matter how you celebrate!

Inside Hillside: For Youth Court Mentor, Advocacy is a Passion

Throughout his four-year high school career, Ethan DeMartinis worked as a volunteer in Hillside’s Youth Court program—and his commitment to the program’s mission has only continued now that he’s moved on to college.

Based in Livingston County, the Youth Court program uses peer influence to help youthful non-violent offenders find accountability for their offenses and learn about the effects of their actions on themselves, victims, and the community.

After graduating as valedictorian of the Livonia Central School class of 2021, DeMartinis went on to Dartmouth University to study English, creative writing and public policy. But he’s maintained a mentor role to Youth Court participants, connecting remotely with Zoom technology that was adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Youth Court has opened my eyes to new ways of thinking,” DeMartinis says, “and it’s motivated me to be a part of the justice system moving forward.”

His passion for advocacy takes other forms, as well. As a member of the New York State Youth Justice Institute Peer Advisory Council, he contributes to the work of supporting localities statewide to adopt evidence-informed youth justice practices. He’s also an Associate Editor for the Dartmouth Law Journal and The Stonefence Review, a literature magazine; and he writes novels, works with a local church and hikes in his free time.

Casey Pagano, Case Manager for the Youth Court program, calls DeMartinis “a wonderful role model for younger members. We cannot thank Ethan enough for his dedication and commitment to the program. And we congratulate him on his achievements!”

Your support helps Hillside programs change the lives of even more youth and families in need. Donate to Hillside today.

Hillside DE&I Update — November 2022

The Hillside Men of Color (HMOC) affinity group met last month with a special guest in attendance: Pastor Reginald L. Cox (pictured), founder and Executive Director of The Fatherhood Connection. His organization is designed to educate, equip and empower communities, and our HMOC group is looking forward to partnering with Pastor Cox as part of Hillside’s ongoing commitment to community outreach.

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Bringing a DE&I culture to a complex organization like Hillside requires attention in all areas. For instance, we’re in the process of updating Hillside’s agency-wide policies that guide many aspects of our work, and our teams have been asked to also consider those policies from a lens of equity. Subtle changes like this can make a big gradual difference in how we engage with the diverse communities we serve. 

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November is National Native American Heritage Month, an opportunity for us all to reflect on our nation’s history and honor those indigenous to this land and who called it home long before the first European settlers arrived.

A ‘Special’ Time of Year—Join Us!

The holiday season is a time of traditions, and at Hillside we have a particularly heartwarming tradition to share. For more than 40 years, our Special Santa program has brought toys and gifts to thousands of children and families served by Hillside—and each year, your generosity makes this special program a success.

Like everything we do at Hillside, Special Santa has evolved over the years—but our need for community support is unchanging. This year, there are more ways than ever for you to be a Special Santa:

  • You can shop online at Hillside’s AmazonSmile Charity Page, with individual gifts sent directly to our programs for delivery to children in December.
  • You can shop local, and bring new and unwrapped gifts to any of the dozens of community partner locations who share our enthusiasm for this annual cause.
  • You can easily make an online donation that directly supports Special Santa, and allows this wonderful program to keep making a difference to so many young people.

Our Special Santa page includes all the details you need to pursue any of the above options. No matter what path you choose, you’ll be making a wonderful difference in the holidays for children in need.

I hope you’ll join us before December 11 in bringing smiles to the faces of the youth and families we serve. During the Special Santa season and all year long, your support keeps Hillside Strong!

Thank you,

Maria Cristalli
President and CEO

Make a Difference – Join Our Family!

Recently, I was excited to announce that Hillside would raise our minimum wage to $17 per hour for all positions in our agency. This change comes after an increase to $15/hour last year, and we’re committed to more increases in the future. It’s critical that our people receive the compensation they deserve for work that means so much to thousands of youth and families every year.

With that in mind, I hope you’ll consider joining the Hillside family in a position that fits your skills and interests—and please encourage your friends and family members to do the same. The increased compensation packages mean that there’s never been a better time to become a Hillside employee—but it’s also true that our mission has never been more important in the communities we serve.

Even before COVID-19, children and families were in vital need of the social, behavioral and educational supports that Hillside provides. We know that the pandemic has only increased the need for those services, and that Hillside is uniquely prepared to meet those needs.

Becoming a member of the Hillside team helps you build a meaningful career and allows you to make a powerful difference in your community.

However you choose to support our agency’s mission, thank you!

Maria Cristalli
President & CEO

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