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Hillsides Honors Angel Awardees and Major Donors at Circle of Excellence Dinner
10.18.19

LOS ANGELES, October 18, 2019 – Hillsides, a Southern California foster care and mental health charity, recognized six outstanding individuals and organizations during its annual Circle of Excellence dinner last night in Pasadena. For the first time, the annual recognition event was held in the new Margie & Robert E. Petersen Student Center on the Hillsides campus. The six were also awarded letters of commendation from Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor Kathryn Barger.

The six individuals/organizations honored were:

  • Jim Keatley, who received the Hillsides Lifetime Achievement Award.  For Jim, a retired energy executive, involvement in Hillsides has been a family affair. He was first introduced to Hillsides by his son, John, who had a pair of Little League teammates who were Hillsides residents. Later, while in high school, John volunteered at Hillsides as a tutor. Jim’s wife, Jean, served on the Board of Hillsides Education Center for six years, including two as President. After Jean left the Board, Jim spent a dozen years on the Board, including five years on the Finance Committee as chair. He provided critical fiscal expertise and leadership throughout the merger with Bienvenidos and informed the financial goals set out in Hillsides strategic plan.
  • Claud Beltran, who received the Hillsides Angel Award. A Pasadena native, Claud is the talented chef-owner behind The Eatery, Bacchus Kitchen, and Claud & Co. Despite the long hours that running his restaurants demand, Claud devotes a lot of time giving back to his community. He has catered multiple Hillsides events and, most recently, was one of five chefs who led the Culinary Apprenticeship Program. During the 10-week program, participants in this Youth Moving On program had the opportunity to gain professional kitchen experience under the mentorship of top chefs and restaurant professionals.
  • Alexandra Poer, who also received the Hillsides Angel Award. Alexandra’s journey with Hillsides began as a volunteer tutor while she was a high school student. As chef-owner of alexandra’s table, Alexandra takes inspiration from the fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables that abound in Southern California to create dishes that are as delicious as they are beautiful. Hillsides’ supporters are no strangers to her skills in the kitchen as she has been catering the organizations events for decades. Her commitment to the community can be seen in her generosity sharing her time and talent. When she was approached about the idea of creating a culinary apprenticeship program, Alexandra immediately wanted to take part. She was instrumental in creating the Culinary Apprenticeship Program’s curriculum and reaching out to fellow chefs to enlist their participation.
  • Grace Episcopal Church, which received the Hillsides Community Angel Award.  Known as “The Church That Love Built,” Grace Episcopal has a long history of giving and taking care of those in need. Grace parishioners hold an annual holiday gift drive for our youth, have sponsored a Hillsides child, and volunteered countless hours in the campus library and at the annual gala.
  • Javier Guerrero, who received a Hillsides Special Recognition Award. Guerrero, a CVS Store Manager, began working with his first intern from Hillsides’ Youth Moving On program in 2015. He was so impressed with his first intern’s work that he offered Ernesto a job with CVS that he still holds today. Continuing to accept interns from the YMO program, Javier has helped transition many to permanent positions and expanded opportunities to other CVS stores in Southern California.
  • Total Devotion – MBCLA Youth Group, also received a Hillsides Special Recognition Award. Total Devotion is the teen fellowship program of Mandarin Baptist Church, Los Angeles, led by Arthur and Sandra Hsieh. In the Fall of 2016, Aileen Wei, a MBCLA parishioner and student at San Diego State University, began volunteering as a reading coach with the “Reading Rocks” literacy program at Hillsides Education Center. As a member of Total Devotion’s leadership team, she knew Hillsides would be a great place for MBCLA’s teens to serve the community. For more than three years, Arthur and Sandra, along with Megan Lee, have brought teens from Total Devotion to Hillsides once a month to host activities for the children in the Residential Treatment Services Program.

The evening was also a chance for Hillsides President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph M. Costa to thank the agency’s supporters – many who have generously given from their hearts in time and funds for decades. Guests had an opportunity to enjoy a video recapping last month’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 34,000-square-foot Petersen Student Center and see the $18.2 million transformation of Hillsides main campus in Pasadena. 

Joshua Mathieu, a workforce development specialist with Hillsides’ Youth Moving On, was the keynote speaker for the evening. Among his many duties helping transition-aged youth in the 16-25 age range, Mathieu oversaw the recently concluded 10-week Culinary Apprenticeship Program. During his speech, Mathieu, who has been with Hillsides for nine years, said, “Watching the transformation of students from learning basic kitchen skills to preparing a four-course meal for 65 people was inspiring to everyone involved.” 

The evening ended with Christian Daly, the assistant field deputy, San Gabriel Valley, for Supervisor Kathryn Barger, presenting all honorees with a commendation from the county. 

Hillsides annual Circle of Excellence dinner is an opportunity to thank donors and volunteers who in the past year have gone above and beyond for the charity, which was established in 1913.

About Hillsides

Hillsides, with its affiliate Bienvenidos, is dedicated to healing children and young adults, strengthening families, and transforming communities through quality comprehensive services and advocacy. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the agency serves almost 17,000 children and families in Southern California throughout more than 40 sites, including school-based mental health offices in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Baldwin Park. Foster care and adoptions services are offered in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties. To learn more about Hillsides, please visit www.Hillsides.org. Visit Hillsides on Facebook @hillsideschildren, on Twitter @Hillsides, or Instagram @HillsidesPasadena.

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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