DECEMBER 6, 2019 - For many people, being a part of a team is a quintessential experience of childhood. Many kids at Hillcrest haven’t had the opportunity to play sports or participate in other activities that provide a team environment. However, there is one experience here that provides them with that sense of teamwork, accomplishment, and responsibility. And that is the Honda NYPUM program.Learn More
NOVEMBER 22, 2019 - The holidays are a special time of year when many families gather, recreate traditions, and make memories together. Unfortunately for many of Hillcrest’s residential students, the holidays are spent at school, away from family for a variety of reasons. Some are too far away from home, others are not stable enough to leave Hillcrest, and sadly, some students do not have family to return to. That means it’s our job to ensure that Hillcrest students have meaningful holiday celebrations with staff, peers, and visiting family members.Learn More
NOVEMBER 8, 2019 - What are the happiest moments for you while working here?
I’ve gone for days smiling after hearing a kid, whose voice that I’d never heard before, let me know if they wanted water or juice with their meds. One word. Just to hear their voice and everything. Something like that, I can smile for days....
OCTOBER 11, 2019 – What surprised you most working for Hillcrest?
The kids. These are challenged kids. Sometimes with their behavior you think they don’t like you. You think they don’t care about you. You think it’s all about them. And then I had my injury and kids were like acting out. And then anytime I was on light duty, I popped over there and the kids were like, “Saaamm, when are you coming back?!”
I see these kids are challenged and they don’t say these things to you because they enjoy saying it. It’s because of the situation they find themselves. I don’t take it personal. They are good people on the inside....
OCTOBER 4, 2019 - “The ideal situation [for our students after they leave Hillcrest] is living as independently as possible and having some part-time work,” said Tom Leonardo, the vocational teacher at Hillcrest’s ASD Residential Program. And that’s what the staff in the vocational classroom aim to do...Learn More
SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 - What are the most rewarding moments for you at Hillcrest?
So much. For ASD, it’s just seeing the kids come in and they have so little skills. It’s the small things. Because to them, for ASD kids, it’s the tiny things that count. For some people, it’s a kid being able to drive, but for ASD, it could be a kid getting up and walking from the dorm to the bus. Or walking over to take meds. The simple things that makes it rewarding.
SEPTEMBER 6, 2019 - What are the most rewarding moments for you working at Hillcrest?
There’s a lot, but when you see the kids come in and they like what the menu is, they like what’s for breakfast or lunch. Or, for example, we have watermelon out sometimes and they say, “Oh, I love watermelon!” Or when they come back for seconds. Or the ones who can tell you, “Oh breakfast was great!” “Lunch was great!” So that makes you feel good. I’m a little old school. I try to take pride in my work, do the best I can, and put out a great product.