The Power of Regifting: One Hillsides Employee Redefines the Meaning

Hillsides childcare counselor Micaela Tracy's generous gift is bringing joy to the girls in Canyon Cottage.

By Alison Bell 

Regifting has a bad name.

If a present has been recycled, it’s usually something undesirable.

Not so for the 10 girls who live at the Canyon Cottage at Hillsides residential therapeutic treatment program in Pasadena. 

They are the beneficiaries of a very appealing pass-along gift -- $2,000 for tickets to Disneyland. 

And all because of the generosity of a Hillsides employee.   

Micaela Tracy, 25, has worked at Hillsides for a year.  A former video editor with a degree in film production from Arizona State, Micaela became interested in child welfare when she directed a film, Una Luz, about orphanages in El Salvador. 

“This made me realize how much I care about children, so I decided to change careers,” she says.  

She applied to a job opening at Hillsides as a residential childcare counselor at Canyon Cottage, and got the job.  Right off the bat, “I knew this was the right field for me,” she says.  Her heart went out to the girls, ranging in ages from 12 - 19, who had suffered numerous traumas, including abuse and abandonment.  Working with them, she also found the best part of herself.

“I have become more empathetic, patient, and understanding not just at work but in all aspects of my life,” says Micaela, who plans on one day pursuing a master’s degree in social work.  

Like many others, Micaela and her husband Aaron love Disneyland.  For the past two years, Micaela’s in-laws have given the couple season passes to the theme park, for a total value of $2,000. 

This year, when it came time for Micaela’s in-laws to renew the passes, Micaela started thinking that maybe she didn’t need to visit the Magic Kingdom for the umpteenth time. Instead she knew a few others who might really enjoy such an outing:  the girls in the cottage.

 “I got excited just thinking of how excited they’d be,” she says.   

She asked her mother-in-law, Kathryn Tracy, if she’d skip the passes this year and instead donate the money to the girls to fund a day at Disneyland, and Kathryn immediately agreed.

“I was overwhelmed with Micaela’s selflessness,” says Kathryn. “We were so happy to support her and all the good things Hillsides is doing.”

The trip to Anaheim is set to happen in a few weeks.  The girls are counting the days, and so is Micaela, whose one stipulation was that she share the experience with them.

Despite being an obvious fan of regifting, that’s one present she decided to save for herself.

Family Resource Centers offer numerous community-based programs and services that provide parenting classes, mental health support, and additional crucial resources for vulnerable children and families throughout Los Angeles County, including the San Gabriel Valley and Pasadena. >
Residential Treatment Services provide a safe and stable environment where children and youths, who cannot live at home, suffered trauma, or have severe emotional or behavioral challenges, can thrive. >
Education Center, a therapeutic residential and day school, offers individualized education for students with social-emotional, learning and/or behavior challenges for children in kindergarten through 12th grade. >
Youth Moving On, with support from The Everychild Foundation, provides former foster youth affordable quality housing and numerous support services to help them become responsible, self-sufficient adults. >

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