Once Upon A Gown

Believe it or not, prom season is right around the corner. Are you ready? Some young people residing in the Washington Metropolitan area do not have the resources to attend this special occasion. Thanks to Once Upon A Gown these youth now have an opportunity to acquire beautiful clothes and participate in this traditional event. The Once Upon A Gown initiative is designed to support students in preparation for prom and special occasions by collecting and distributing gently used and new formal attire. This includes gowns, shoes, accessories, and now tuxedos. This is a free event taking place on Saturday, March 17 at Seat Pleasant Activity Center located at 5720 Addison Road, Capitol Heights MD 20743. Once Upon A Gown will occur from 11 am to 4 pm.  To register for this event visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/once-upon-a-gown-registration-40101641088

For more information contact Ms. Alesha Wilson, the founder at pgpromproject@gmail.com.

Get Your Check Up From The Neck Up

Do you know your mental health score? According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 1 in 5 adults are diagnosed with a mental illness. Hillcrest Children and Family Center is an advocate for good mental health. We created the #abetterselfie social media campaign to promote behavioral health awareness and remove stigma for health seeking individuals. We also encourage the use of What’s My M3 which allows you to do a personal assessment of your mental health. This test screens for Depression, an Anxiety Disorder, Bipolar Disorder and PTSD.

 So get your checkup form the neck up. For supportive information about your mental health score and other mental health services call 202-232-6100.

To learn more and take this brief test, click here.



The Difference Is You! – Give A Gift to Support Behavioral Health

What was your first introduction to Hillcrest Center? Was it a friendly visit from one of our canvassers? Perhaps you attended an event during our bicentennial year. Or maybe you attended a community engagement event during Hillcrest Week’s One Love For A City. Whatever reason moved you to take an interest in Hillcrest Children and Family Center, we are glad you did.

A donation from you helps Hillcrest Center provide critical mental health and substance use disorder treatment for children, youth, adults and families.

Please consider giving a gift to support behavioral health today! Click here to donate.


Cards For Causes

Hillcrest Center is participating in Picaboo’s Card For Causes program this holiday season. Picaboo has partners with more than 150 local nonprofit organizations every year to create custom holiday cards. You can design your own photo holiday cards and support Hillcrest Center at the same time. When you order cards through our program, 50% of your purchase will be donated to the Hillcrest Children and Family Center. This is a great opportunity for you to help create awareness for mental health and substance use disorder. Visit https://www.picaboo.com/cards-for-causes/hillcrest-children-and-family-center/ to get your holiday cards today!


 holiday card pic







Foster Care is Community – Everyone Can Be a Champion

The following article is reposted from the White House “Champion for Change” web site. To visit the original article, please visit https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/05/20/foster-care-community-everyone-can-be-champion

Hillcrest Center also offers services to foster children and families. To find out more, please contact us.


Nicole Dobbins is being honored as a Champion of Change for Foster Youth

The great Muhammad Ali said, “Champions aren´t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision.”

Reflecting on becoming an advocate for children and families, I’m reminded of my childhood. Growing up was chaotic, filled with instability, abuse, poverty, and a parent with long-term substance abuse challenges. I longed for a healthy family. I hoped my family would get the help they needed and life would become less stressful.

In elementary school I grew aware of the importance of education and I knew I didn’t want to grow up and struggle the way my mother did. Having never finished high school, she stressed the importance of education, but for me it didn’t feel attainable. Even when I was young, I was aware of my family circumstances and the cost of college felt insurmountable.

In 5th grade my elementary school principal changed this belief. In an assembly, she told my graduating class that all of us could make it to college if we did just three things: got “C” letter grades or better, didn’t do drugs, and didn’t get pregnant. She also said she would help us pay for it through a scholarship fund. My world shifted; I now had hope for a better future.

With this, I made it to college, but not before abruptly exiting the foster care system. I “aged-out” of foster care just one day after graduating from high school. My saving grace was that I was already accepted to Oregon State University. I had three months of summer to survive before I had stable housing in the dorms.

In college, I felt lost and alone. Various people helped me along the way, but there was something missing. I was navigating a challenging transition to adulthood, which included managing and healing from past trauma. I masked my emotions on the outside well, but secretly contemplated suicide often. I seriously lacked a support system.

In my junior year, a case-worker I came to know after foster care encouraged me to apply for an internship. It was one of the first times I felt someone believed in me. I interned and later worked for FosterClub, an amazing organization. It was an opportunity that gave me purpose in life. Discovering other young people who had experienced similar circumstances gave me passion to create change. I learned how to build what was missing, my supportive network.

The following year I became the director of the internship, and was responsible for training former foster youth to become young leaders, using their experiences to improve the lives of our peers.

All children need champions. Because of instability in care, my peers often lack an anchor. They lack consistent people in their lives to guide them, hold them accountable and love them beyond their mistakes. From a young age, my desire was to change my family’s trajectory. Today, my vision is clear: I have a dream that no more young people will “age-out” of foster care without committed people who love and support them in their transition to adulthood. With more than 100,000 children waiting to be adopted and nearly 23,000 youth who age-out of foster care annually, often to poor outcomes, we have work to do.

Maybe you can’t adopt or foster, but what about mentoring, volunteering, or even making donations to your local community organizations? There are so many opportunities to become champions for children in foster care.

Nicole is the Executive Director of Voice for Adoption. She is a graduate of Oregon State University.