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Runde’s Raising Awareness Part 4: Hillcrest Family Services

We would like to end our Raising awareness series with Hillcrest Family Services. Hillcrest has many different departments.  The various branches of Hillcrest are divided by age groups, gender, and specific needs of the children. 

Hillcrest has helped countless kids as they mature into outstanding individuals. However, there is always a need for volunteers, especially in the role of a big brother big sister to one of the kids. If you would like to help out the kids please read on to learn more and to see how to volunteer.

Hillcrest Family Services

John Bellini, director of residential education, spoke with us about how Hillcrest helps youth grasp a rich and successful education.

In your words, what is Hillcrest?
Well in my branch, we help youth that are having learning problems by providing more of a structured learning environment than the local school classrooms. We have about half of our students living in our residential homes and the other half live in the immediate Dubuque vicinity.

Up to what grade does Hillcrest teach?
We teach K-12. We also have a school to work program in place for high school aged students who learn at slower pace. The program provides these students with life long lessons such as writing a resume, writing a check, etc. After the students graduate, they can then start working.

How long has the facility been in existence? And is it open year-round?
We’ve been up since 1896. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Hillcrest Services is a non-profit organization, right? So where does it get the yearly funds to operate?
We are funded, 86% by the state. The other funds come from donations.

Do you generally accept donations of money or goods?
We mainly love it when volunteers help out. A lot of these kids need someone to look up to and some volunteers become mentors to these kids. Being a big brother / big sister really helps.

Are you having any special events around Christmas?
Oh sure, we have a Christmas party for our youth. We have a potluck and play games, it’s a great time.

Does Santa make a visit to Hillcrest?
Yes he does! He comes and visits all of the kids around the ages of 5-7. He goes around to all of the group homes and visits the kids, gives them gifts and has a jolly time.

Is there any one particular story or event that made you feel uplifted?
Well we see a lot of great and uplifting things going on here. But there is one student who came here from St. Louis. His parents were in a lot of trouble and he was affiliated with gangs while he was in St. Louis. But since he came here he has been a delight. He was always a great kid but he never had been put in a situation where he could just be himself. When he came to Hillcrest he had an opportunity to put away the tough act and now he is working with us, he’s kind of our poster child.

How would people contact Hillcrest if they wanted to help out?
You can contact Carrie Preston, our admissions coordinator.

Phone: (563) 583-7357 Ext. 222
Email: cpreston@hillcrest-fs.org
Website: www.hillcrest-fs.org
Address: 200 Mercy Drive
Dubuque, IA 52001

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