Rob DaSilva, a campus supervisor, has worked at Hillsides for 26 years. However, he still finds the job as interesting today as when he started back in 1990. “The kids are always changing, so there’s always something fresh and new,” he says.
DaSilva is also continually facing “fresh and hew” challenges because he never knows what crisis might pop up on campus, where he helps oversee the 125 children who live there annually. He views his job as that of a fireman. “In the middle of the chaos, you are calm, cool, and collected,” he says. “You make it look easy, even if it’s not.”
And even if a day hasn’t been easy, DaSilva is able to quickly recover. “Whatever happened the day before, that’s in the past,” he says. “I just try to move forward, every day is a new day."
He’s also buoyed by the fact that he finds the children a constant source of inspiration. ”When I think about what it took for me to get where I am in life and these children have so much less support, it makes me rethink the challenges I face in my own life,” he says.
Another role DaSilva has carved out for himself at Hillsides is staff training. Throughout the years, he’s taught fellow staff many skills, from first aid to life guarding to evidence-based practices that help the children cope with anger and aggression. He says working closely with so many employees has been instrumental to him loving his job because he’s been able to build so many strong, supportive friendships.
Currently, Hillsides, like all residential therapeutic homes, is switching its focus. While children used to spend years in therapeutic group homes like Hillsides, today, children stay for much shorter durations, with the emphasis on reunification with a child’s family and community. The agency also just broke ground on a $12 million capital campaign to improve the campus facilities.
Looking toward the future, however, DaSilva isn’t fazed. He’s ready for whatever comes.
“We aren’t the same place as we were 25 years ago, and I find that appealing,” he says. “I always see change as a good thing.”