by Stephen Cohen
Conclusion of a 2-Part Series
In the August 1 edition of The Voice, I described how, after 32 years of driving by Hillside at the bottom of Courtney Drive and wondering what it was, I was recently taken on a tour and discovered that it is a 13-acre residential campus, right on our doorstep, offering services for children and adolescents who have emotional and behavioral issues.
It doesn’t look like a psychiatric facility. The intent is for kids to arrive onto a cheerful and inviting campus that is a place of growth and healing.
The need for community support
The Manager of Community Relations, Katrina Word, and the Director of Business Development, Mark Pulliam, explained more about Hillside’s place in our community, including the kind of help they need, and how they have recently expanding their offerings.
Since not all parents have the resources to pay all the costs, even when insurance provides coverage, community support from citizens is a real need, and this support can take the form of donating time, items, or funds.
Let’s take as an example the community garden, which is filled with herbs, vegetables, and flowers. The children work in it alongside a horticulture therapist, planting food that they then harvest and take to the Dining Hall for preparation.
“When I was growing up,” observed Mark, “I used to sit and stare at the green beans on my plate, refusing to eat them. These kids now will just pick the vegetables right off the plant and sample them to see what they grew tastes like, and learn to make healthy choices when eating.”
(It is worth noting that apart from incorporating life sciences into the gardening, such as using marigolds as natural pesticides, there are bigger lessons that the children learn, too, as they struggle to find their feet: growth is not instantaneous, either for the plants or the children; it requires patience and painstaking effort.)
There is more work to do in the garden than the children have time for, so one way volunteers could help would be to work in the garden to supplement those efforts.
Volunteering time could also take the form of such activities as sorting incoming clothes in the clothing center, or maybe helping out on campus with sports, art, or other recreational activities.
Donations can be in the form of either funds or needed items, which may be as small as teddy bears for children, or fleeces for adolescents, that can provide comfort at that time of night when we settle in to bed and the anxieties start to crowd in on us.
For more information how you can support Hillside by donating time, items, or funds, click here. You may also call Katrina Word at 404-875-4551 x 321.
Some donation examples:
* Rated G and PG movies for their lending movie library
* E-rated video games for PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii
* Board Games
* Finger paints and craft items
* Canvas and sketch paper
* Books (series for young adults)
* Fleece blankets
* New stuffed animals
Examples of volunteer opportunities:
* Help in the on-campus clothing store
* After-school clubs (rotating schedules) for knitting, scrapbooking, photography, art, nature, etc. Any special interest that one might have.
* Take the lead and help Hillside find materials for a soccer group/club on the weekends
Note that VHCA has regularly donated to Hillside in appreciation of their providing a meeting room for the NPU – almost $4000 over the last decade.
Children giving back
Children also learn that giving is a two-way street. When people give back, it helps them grow and heal. So, for example, with the assistance of a volunteer from the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, the children working in the garden recently painted on rocks things they would want others to have. The rocks were then placed in the Zen garden at the Emory Cancer Center.
“Activities like this teach empathy,” said Katrina. “It’s empowering: The kids need help but they also help others in need.”
Services Hillside can provide to the community at large
Hillside has recently expanded its community services beyond psychiatric residential care. Today’s children, especially adolescents, are under social and academic pressures largely unknown to their parents: pressures to achieve, to appear successful, and to take on a huge array of activities and courses. So Hillside opened up Hillside DBT, an outpatient clinic in Buckhead designed not for residential, psychiatric care like the Courtenay campus, but just to help ordinary kids and their parents cope with the unrelenting pressures of adolescence.
Hillside has found that the same DBT training that is used on Courtney can help these kids, too. The Hillside DBT clinic also offers training and workshops for parents on how to raise kids in these highly competitive times.
For more information on the Buckhead clinic, click here.
For more information on how you can help Hillside on Courtney, click here.
Touring the campus
Hillside welcomes anyone in the community to tour the Courtney campus. Email Katrina Word (shown at right) at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 404-875-4551 x 321 if you would like to take a tour or discuss volunteering.
The perspectives in this article are those of Hillside, and are described in this article to help further an understanding of the organization’s sense of mission for its surrounding communities.
How this article came about: After Hillside’s new President and CEO, Emily Acker introduced herself at last month’s meeting of NPU-F, which for a decade has met there, our VHCA representatives to the NPU suggested that the Voice carry an article about them. In the clothing store picture in this article, Emily is shown at right working with a volunteer.
Stephen Cohen is the Editor of The Virginia-Highland Voice.