A Rewarding Partnership: Hillcrest Hope and William Jewell College
Making our home in Liberty, we have the benefit of a great educational institution, William Jewell College, in our own backyard. Through the years, we at Hillcrest Hope have had the opportunity to engage students and faculty alike in a number of ways. It is this sense of “neighbors helping neighbors” that has brought about some impactful individual involvement more recently.
About a year and a half ago, Assistant Professor of Accounting and Finance, Chris McCullick, reached out to Hillcrest Hope. “I learned about Hillcrest Hope through my wife’s volunteer experience as a Cerner employee,” Chris shared. “I had been volunteering in other ways but hadn’t found the right connection, where my gifts could really be used.” When Chris pulled up the Hillcrest Hope website, he read about a need for budget counselors. He knew then that he had found what he was looking for.
Budget counseling, though a sort of niche volunteer position for Chris, still holds its challenges. “For many, it is hard to understand the need to budget without understanding the value of it. I work hard to develop a report with the resident and help them see the value in budgeting.”
More importantly, Chris shared, is that the opportunity to be a budget counselor is more than just crunching numbers. He explained the reward is helping someone believe that what they have been striving so hard for is truly possible. The relationship, even more than the education, creates the lasting impact.
Through Chris McCullick and his classes, Madison Giles, a Junior at Jewell, was reminded of Hillcrest Hope, having known about a similar program in the community she grew up in. Through McCullick, volunteering at Hillcrest Hope was a thought for Madison, “a great opportunity.” Looking for an avenue to fulfill her Pryor Leadership Program volunteer internship hours, she reached out to get plugged in. Despite her awareness, “[I] never would have thought I would spend my summer working for Hillcrest Hope, learning from some of the best mentors I have ever encountered.”
As Chris McCullick had shared, Madison reiterated that Hillcrest Hope provides the opportunity to truly connect-both with staff and resident families. Madison was able to fulfill internship hours by working with a current resident on the family’s weekly budget and credit repair process, support families filling out applications, and helping children at Hillcrest Hope prepare to return to school this fall. “The biggest aspect that separates Hillcrest Hope from other companies I have worked for was their caring and nurturing demeanor,” explained Madison. The variety and unique needs kept Madison engaged and on her toes. When she completed her necessary hours, she continued to volunteer.
William Jewell students through the years have been assets to Hillcrest Hope, fulfilling internship hours and playing a key role in supporting staff and programs. Every spring and fall students, with many student athletes in the mix, serve on Hillcrest Hope properties to complete single day projects, often working alongside residents of the Hillcrest Hope program.
“We are made better by the necessity to engage students and faculty, sharing with them the needs of the local community, answering questions we have yet to be challenged by, and finding unique ways in which to plug them in and provide practical education,” explained Rachel Hollinberger, Hillcrest Hope Program and Marketing Director.
At Hillcrest Hope, we are so thankful to have such a resource and awesome educational institution locally. We look for opportunities to continue to engage with William Jewell College to educate ourselves, provide education and experience to students, and address the needs of our community together.