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#1StudentNWI: An overview of Hilltop Neighborhood House in Valparaiso

By: Nicholas Fortin Last Updated: June 4, 2020

Hilltop Neighborhood House is an important organization in Valparaiso. Commonly referred to as simply Hilltop House, they offer many opportunities in the area of childcare for the community. It has been open since 1995 and has grown over the years. 

Their mission: “Hilltop Neighborhood House is a childcare center in Valparaiso, IN, that empowers the community by providing a place to learn, grow, and belong.” The programs they offer include early childhood education, a food pantry and an after school program for students. 

There is a lot to learn from the people involved with Hilltop House. Opportunity arose to talk to one of the board members and a volunteer as well. 

Jim Harper is an attorney in Valparaiso and a board member of Hilltop House. He has been on the board since 2016. Harper explained how they have many important services such as an early childhood education center. The program is nationally accredited and is on the level 4 of the Indiana path to qualify rating system. Harper said Hilltop House provides financial assistance to help anyone who can’t afford any part of the tuition.

When asked about what enjoys about being involved and helping people in need at Hilltop House, Harper said, “It is great to see our community come together to serve each other. Hilltop House changes families' lives for the better, and it is an honor to be a small part of that and to witness all the good that this non-profit does.”

The board and staff remain active on existing and new projects.

“Currently, we are working to guide Hilltop House through the challenges of COVID-19,” Harper said. “We have been increasing the capacity of our food pantry, which is serving many more during this crisis. We are also working to make sure that we can continue to provide quality early childhood education to Valparaiso families.”

“I appreciate the opportunity to work with a non-profit that provides an incredible service to so many in our community,” Harper continued. “Hilltop's board is engaged, and our leadership and staff is dedicated to providing high-quality early childhood education, as well as other services.”

Ben Blohm, a frequent volunteer at Hilltop House, said he loves working with people to make a difference in our community.

“Everyone who works with the organization and who volunteers there is so dedicated. It’s wonderful to see people coming together to help their neighbors, especially now as we face the COVID-19 crisis,” he said.

When ask how many times he has volunteered he said, “My wife Susan and I have been volunteering since the beginning of the pandemic. That means we help out most Thursday mornings when the pantry is open. We also occasionally shop on behalf of the pantry on Tuesdays to make sure it is stocked.”

Blohm and his wife do all sorts of things as volunteers, from assembling packages for the clients and cleaning the vehicles to shopping for food at the store. One of my more specific tasks is moving the heavy items on top shelves.

“Happy to help however I can!“ he said.

Overall, Hilltop Neighborhood House in Valparaiso is an important organization that works hard to make life better for the children in their community.