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Centennial Awards Presented at Annual Circle of Excellence Event

Donors and Volunteers Recognized by Hillsides Charity on October 17

African American news from Pasadena - Community - Annual Circle of Excellence event recipientsPasadena, CA -- Los Angeles charity Hillsides honored major donors and volunteers at the organization's annual Circle of Excellence dinner held on October 17 at Pandora on Green in Pasadena. During the evening, one individual, three couples, and one organization received Centennial Angel Awards for having given abundantly of their time, resources, and talent to Hillsides. Susanne Crummey, Hillsides' associate executive director, received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her 43 years of employment at the agency.

"Every year we pay tribute to our 'angels,' those who go above and beyond helping Hillsides. This year, in recognition of our centennial, we are awarding those with a long-standing commitment to Hillsides with special centennial awards. These honorees are an integral part of our mission to create lasting change, and it was a pleasure to publically recognize them at this event," said Joseph M. Costa, Hillsides' chief executive officer.

Those receiving Centennial Angel Awards were:

  • Pasadena resident Sylvia Bartlett. Bartlett created the first fundraising benefit for Hillsides in the 1980s and in 1987, became the founding president of the Hillsides Guild, a support group of Hillsides. For over 20 years, she also oversaw a teddy bear and book drive during the holidays and ran a tennis-bridge-Bunco tournament named after her, the Bartlett Cup.
  • Pasadena residents Don and Sally Clark. Don Clark twice served as the chair of Hillsides' board, chaired the first two capital campaigns, is co-chairing the current campaign, and is a co-founder of the agency's Youth Moving On program. His wife Sally has long been involved with the Hillsides Guild, and been a special friend to several Hillsides youth.
  • Everychild Foundation Youth Moving On (YMO) would not exist if not for the generosity of the Everychild Foundation. In 2005, the organization awarded Hillsides a very generous grant that allowed it to move forward with its dream of creating a housing program for youth transitioning out of foster care. The Everychild Foundation has shepherded Hillsides' evolution into a premier provider of support services for transition-aged youth.
  • Glendale residents Mary Dee Hacker and Steve Nishibayashi. Hacker is a three-time member of the board currently serving as the second vice chair whose visionary leadership has inspired Hillsides to find new, innovative ways to serve children and families. Nishibayashi, a local pediatrician who also sits on Hillsides' board, has led Hillsides' Episcopal Connections Committee and raised the agency's visibility within the Episcopal Church community.
  • San Marino residents Marge and Sherm Telleen. Sherm Telleen has held many positions on Hillsides' board, including chairman of the board. He and his wife Marge are always first to the plate to help Hillsides when there is an identified need to expand the charity's services and programs, and their generosity has been unparalleled in the history of the organization.

Susanne Crummey, the Lifetime Achievement Award winner, was the final honoree of the evening. In her role as Hillsides' associate executive director, Crummey has impacted and improved every single one of the agency's programs. Crummey supervises all aspects of Hillsides' services and programming within the residential treatment services, education center, volunteer, chaplain, and nursing departments. She also oversees program and compliance reviews, outcomes, quality improvement, human resources, and wrap-around services. In addition, she oversaw Hillsides' accreditation process and was key in building Hillsides' Family Resource Centers. She is retiring at the end of November.

The evening began with an invocation by the Rev. J.L. Armstrong with the First AME Church in Los Angeles, followed by a speech by the key note speaker, The Honorable Yvette Verastegui, a judge in the Los Angeles Superior Court who personally experienced the foster care system as a teenager for four years until she emancipated at 18. With no home to return to, Verastegui experienced homelessness and many other challenges faced by transition-aged youth after leaving foster care.

"The only way to escape my surroundings was to pursue an education and by the grace of God, I earned my degrees," Verastegui told the guests. "Education was my salvation and pathway to ensure I would not be a product of my environment."

From entering foster care to sitting on a judge's bench in a courtroom, she understands the devastating impact children, youth, and families experience when they have been through the system. She paid tribute to those individuals who helped her along her journey, in particular a social worker who arranged for Verastegui to have weekly visits with her siblings and maintain a family connection. "Do not underestimate the difference you are making in each and every child's life," Verastegui said. "Hillsides would not be able to transform their lives without your generosity."

The sponsors of the event were Peggy Lui, Alice Bowens, Pasadena councilmember Steve Madison, and Century Rooter. Hillsides' centennial sponsors are The Walt Disney Company, Wells Fargo, and THE Magazine.

[Hillsides is a premier provider of behavioral and education services dedicated to improving the overall well-being and functioning of vulnerable children, youth, and their families. To learn more about Hillsides, please visit www.hillsides.org.]

 

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