Our son, Cole, began attending Hillcrest at 3 months old and is now in the Older Toddler classroom. Our first year at Hillcrest really opened our hearts to why it is such a special place with very special people.
When I would come to pick Cole up during the first year, I would spend a few extra minutes talking to Ms. Renae because her slow, calm demeanor just drew you in. Every day some older children would come and ring the windchime at her door as a ritual of saying hello as they passed or goodbye as they left for the day. Even school-age kids that were volunteering their time at the center would pop in to say hi, and she’d look at me and wink, “that’s one of my babies!” she’d proudly say.
One day I brought in my 1986 school picture from when I was attending Hillcrest to show Ms. Renae. Even though she wasn’t working there at that time, she called me one of her Hillcrest babies, and I felt the love that all those windchime ringers were feeling. In one of our talks, I shared two memories that had stuck with me that I never saw as significant until my family was part of the Hillcrest family.
In 1986 I was in preschool at Hillcrest. My dad had just arrived to pick me up, and we were outside as he recapped the day with one of my teachers. I can see the Hillcrest building in my mind, the same sun shining through the same tall trees that are there now. As we were walking and talking, my teacher told my dad that I was “bright.” My four-year-old mind assumed it was a sunny day reference. As I got older, this specific memory would pop up from time to time until one day I understood.
My son’s teachers at Hillcrest take the time to connect with me or my husband almost every day when we pick our son up to recap his day. When our son’s teachers share positive affirmations about him as he stands there listening, I can see him beaming when he understands. I know this will positively impact his development and self-confidence throughout his life, just as it did mine.
Another memory I have at Hillcrest was on my birthday in the early ’80s. It was St. Patrick’s Day, and little green feet were going up the sides of the walls because little leprechauns came in the middle of the night! Oh how it held magic to our little imaginations! Fast forward to 2021, when I came to Hillcrest last week to pick up our son. All the children were sitting in their tiny chairs celebrating a birthday with cupcakes. The birthday child was centered at the table wearing a construction paper crown on his head- What a little prince he was! This may be a memory that he carries throughout his lifetime that fills his heart with love.
Each year, Hillcrest has an annual campaign to benefit the center. Tuition covers basic supplies and repairs that our center needs but not larger projects, including necessary things like a fire alarm system upgrade, siding/paint for the center, as well as a newly designed preschool play yard. The annual fund has replaced flooring, a boiler and even helped build a bathroom in the last few years.
In addition to the physical property, we all know the heart of Hillcrest is the staff. Many of the staff put in more than is expected and it is so much more than just a job to them. Childcare in Anchorage, especially now, is becoming increasingly harder to find due to the pandemic. We are more than blessed to have committed teachers and staff that show up every day and pour their love out to help raise our children. As a thank you, the annual campaign also benefits them with a yearly bonus. This bonus is more than a gesture of gratitude- it helps them get the necessary things they need to continue to provide the level of care that we receive for our children, whether it is much-needed vehicle repairs to get them to and from work, or even winter gear so that they can play outside with our children.
As we step into this season of giving, I want you to think about what Hillcrest means to you and your family. For our family, we see tiny hands building kingdoms with wood blocks and playgrounds turned into mud pie kitchens. We see imaginations growing and huge, little hearts overflowing as they nurture their baby dolls during circle time. And if I’m being completely transparent, we look inward and see two parents inspired every day by Hillcrest’s values and philosophy.
If you grew up in Anchorage, you know how much it has changed, yet Hollywood Drive still looks very similar as it did then. Our son today plays within the same walls of that old brown building that I played in almost 40 years ago (and even Mr. Jim is still there!). I know this kind of longevity and care wouldn’t be possible without contributions during the annual campaign. Please consider contributing because your donation truly makes a difference.
You can make a tax-deductible donation via credit card, Paypal, or by dropping a check at Hillcrest. You can also become a Sustaining Family monthly donor through your monthly tuition. Thank you for your time and consideration.