Messages from the President & CEO

Our People Keep Hillside Strong!

Every day, Hillside makes a powerful, life-changing difference for children and families. That impact is the result of teamwork—and the most valuable members of that team are our employees, who give their all in support of our mission and those we serve.

The 1,800 women and men who work for Hillside come from diverse backgrounds, and bring different skill sets to their unique and varied roles in our far-reaching agency. For all that, they share one vital characteristic: a commitment to helping others, in any way they can.

Saying “thank you” is hardly sufficient for all they do, so beginning later this month, Hillside will honor our teams with a series of employee appreciation events in our various regional locations. Photos of this annual tradition will be featured in our social media feeds in September and October.

We’re always working to find new ways to support our employees as they continue to perform above and beyond for those in need.

If you or a loved one would like to join our team, please visit our Careers page to check out employment opportunities that may be right for you.

And if you’re already a member of the Hillside family, please accept my thanks—and the thanks of a grateful community—for all you do. Our mission wouldn’t be possible without you!

Maria Cristalli
President & CEO

Hillside at 185: Proud History, Bright Future

Hillside’s 185th birthday officially fell on February 28, but some occasions are too big for a single day – especially in the dead of winter! So we’ve been celebrating all year in a variety of ways.

Most recently, on July 21 we welcomed community leaders, elected officials and longtime friends of Hillside to our Monroe Campus in Rochester for an afternoon event that explored the proud history and bright future of this impactful organization. Among the highlights of the day:

  • We were lauded by Rochester Mayor Malik Evans, Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, State Assembly member Harry Bronson and State Senator Samra Brouk, among other dignitaries, for our longstanding commitment to youth and families.
  • We heard touching personal stories from Alisa Burke, a 34-year Hillside staff member, and Carmona Ross-Asare, an alumna of our Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection program.
  • Sheila Poole, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, paid a visit to express appreciation for Hillside’s work with vulnerable children and families.
  • Our agency’s time capsule was unearthed for its objects to be displayed to attendees. We added more modern mementos and will re-bury the chest for safekeeping until our 200th anniversary in 2037!
  • Last but certainly not least, a trio of major matching-gift donations were announced, representing a powerful commitment to our mission and a call to action for the community to join those donors in supporting Hillside.

As I mentioned at the event, Hillside’s legacy of achievements has only been possible thanks to partnerships—with our staff; the youth and families we serve; our governmental and community partners; and particularly donors who recognize the importance of our work and its ability to improve the lives of thousands of youth and families every year.

We’re so grateful for the support we continue to receive, and that allows us to make an even bigger difference for those we serve.

If you’re able, I hope you will consider making a donation of any size to support Hillside’s mission. You could think of it as a birthday gift that recognizes our proud history of community impact. Or even more appropriately, consider it an investment to help more youth and families realize their own bright futures.

Thank you,


Healing Among Violence: Hillside Stands with Buffalo

On Saturday, May 14, as they shopped in a Buffalo supermarket, 10 people of color were murdered and three more injured by an alleged perpetrator whose weapon had been decorated with a racial obscenity. This terrible act of violence was inflicted on the people of a single neighborhood, but the entire community was shaken to its core – including the Hillside employees who live and work near that location, and who shared close ties with many of those who were killed.

Hillside is a part of the communities we serve, and we share the shock, pain and anger of incomprehensible crimes like this one and the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

We’re responding to this close-to-home trauma as best we can. In Buffalo, our employees have reached out within the neighborhood to volunteer support—and as the community moves forward in its healing, we’ll remain an active source of help and comfort.

Within our agency, Hillside’s Men of Color and Women of Color affinity groups have come together to support our BIPOC employees. Our Regional Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committees are holding open discussions to let participants express their reactions to this incident and the toxic racism that spawned it. Throughout Hillside, we’re engaging in dialogues to ensure we’re doing all we can in this time of need.

We all can play a part in the healing and emotional rebuilding following this act. The National Association of School Psychologists has tips for parents and teachers on how to talk to children about violence. And the Buffalo Bills organization has developed a roster of Buffalo-specific community resources that can benefit from engagement by all of us.

I know racism, hate and senseless violence can’t be overcome overnight, but it falls to each of us to make a difference. Please join us in this effort that will ensure a stronger future for everyone.

Maria CristalliThank you,

Maria Cristalli
President and CEO

Foster Parenting: A Child Needs Your Support

“Sometimes it just takes one person to change your life.” When I read the recent story of Marley, a youth who found new family stability through Hillside’s Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) program, those words spoke to me.

Every child deserves a loving, stable family. Here at Hillside, we meet young people like Marley every day—children who long for that one person or family who will provide them with the home, care and structure that many of us probably consider commonplace.

Throughout Western and Central New York, our TFC teams work to connect those young people with caring families who are willing to open their homes and their hearts—for a night, a weekend, or longer.

Foster care is not synonymous with adoption. In fact, whenever possible, our foster placements involve a partnership between the foster family and a youth’s biological relatives. The goal, as often as possible, is to provide a temporary safe and loving environment while the youth’s biological family can work through their challenges and welcome their child back home.

Foster parenting is important work, which is why our TFC teams provide extensive training and support for families in our foster network. In a way, when you become a Hillside foster parent, you join a new family yourself—our family—while making a powerful difference in the lives of children in need.

Please consider becoming a Hillside foster parent. The need for these services is ongoing—and so is your capacity for changing lives.

Maria CristalliThank you,

Maria Cristalli
President and CEO

Your Support Makes a Difference

At Hillside, we’re committed to building Stronger Futures Together. We know the combined efforts of passionate, talented people can make a whole that’s much more powerful than the sum of their parts.

And “Together” includes you. As a member of the communities we serve, you’re an important partner in our work. Through your support of our mission, extraordinary things can happen.

Take Camp Possibilities, for example. This 240-acre property in Henrietta, NY, is the setting for an annual day camp program for youth in our care. The Camp features hiking trails and a pond, rolling fields and bountiful open space, and a huge barn that’s perfect for crafts. Each summer, carefully structured activities encourage positive behaviors, spark enthusiasm and teach teamwork.

One of our recreation directors recently told me about “Victor,” a youth who had been struggling to form relationships during his first weeks in residential treatment. After visiting Camp last summer, all that changed: through fishing, kayaking and hiking around the pond, Victor blossomed—improving his connections with staff and other youth, and allowing important therapeutic progress to be made.

The property was entrusted to Hillside years ago, and today philanthropy supports 100 percent of its upkeep and all Camp activities. Your generosity makes Camp happen—and that’s only one example of the above-and-beyond Hillside programs and services that require community support to become a reality.

Please consider a donation to Hillside today. With your help, the Possibilities are endless.

Thank you,

Maria Cristalli
President and CEO

PS: Thanks to a generous matched-gift pledge by Harris Beach, PLLC, and The Bonadio Group, LLP, donations made to Hillside by June 30 will be matched up to $20,000. Please donate today to double the impact of your gift for the youth we serve. Thank you!

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