The Board and Staff of Hilltop Neighborhood House are currently engaged in a 6 month Strategic Planning process to map out the future for the next three to five years of service to children and families. As part of this process, “town hall” type meetings were held in September to solicit input regarding community needs and priorities as they relate to Hilltop’s services. During these meetings, it quickly became apparent that Hilltop Neighborhood House and its services remain a mystery, or perhaps a “best kept secret”, for many in our community.
Does Hilltop provide housing? Is it a domestic abuse shelter? Does it find jobs for the unemployed? Does it provide medical and dental services? Is it a Childcare? A Preschool? Who can attend? Anyone? Just families in the Hilltop neighborhood area? Lots of questions emerged.
Hilltop Neighborhood House was originally founded by another non-profit group engaged in providing housing for minority families—Project Neighbors. They designed and developed Hilltop Neighborhood House as a place for these low-income families to bring their children while they were at work and also a place to receive basic health care and dental services. That was 1996. Seven years later, in 2003, the Hilltop Community Health Center “spun off’ from Hilltop Neighborhood House and became its own independent 501-c-3 non-profit agency. It is now called HealthLinc and has locations in several counties.
With the relocation of the health center to the new facility next door, Hilltop Neighborhood House was able to expand its childcare and preschool program to 73 children, from 6 weeks of age through 5 years. Each classroom has professionally educated teachers and an age-appropriate curriculum for early childhood development. Kindergarten readiness skills are integrated throughout the daily activities so that upon entering school, Hilltop’s “graduates” are eager and ready learners.
In 2000, Hilltop Neighborhood House took on the task of providing a neighborhood food pantry. These services have also grown significantly over the years and today’s Hilltop Village Pantry is open 4 days a week and serves over 400 families and 600 individuals a month.
So…what is Hilltop Neighborhood House in 2010? Hilltop Neighborhood House is a full-time, year-round early childhood development and education program serving families from all over Porter County with a focus on serving children from low-income families. Hilltop Neighborhood House is a food pantry serving families living in the southeastern areas of Valparaiso. Hilltop Neighborhood House is the administrator and coordinator for many of the school-age youth programs in the Reiner Community Center, such as the after-school program.
What will Hilltop Neighborhood House be in 2015? If you would like to be involved in the Strategic Planning process or have ideas about our services, please let us know! Hilltop is here to “help families succeed with a focus on quality, affordable childcare.” Your participation in fulfilling this mission is always welcome!!