Beacon Award Goes to Hill House

One of the winners of this year’s Beacon Awards, Hill House has been consistently making a “sustained and significant contribution” to the neighborhood since its inception in 1966.

The longstanding nonprofit community-center and self-described “your backyard in the city” was incorporated in the spring of that year at 74 Joy St. It remained at that location until 2001, when with a boost from a donation made by then-Mayor Thomas Menino and the city, and after “countless campaign efforts and three years of renovations, the Mt. Vernon Street firehouse opened its doors as Hill House’s new and improved central building,” according to Hill House’s website.

Today, the organization offers a high level of athletic, creative, and intellectual programming to 2,000 newborns through age 12 each year while serving 1,500 families from Beacon Hill, the Back Bay, the West End, and other downtown neighborhoods.

Besides early childhood classes and its best-known and most-popular programs, the organization otherwise engages the community through monthly senior dinners; volunteer community outreach, which gives back to other downtown neighborhood nonprofits; and seasonal events, like its annual Holiday Tree and Wreath Sale.

Among the organization’s most popular offerings is Hill House Soccer, which now includes more than 500 players each year and has become one of Boston’s largest organized fall soccer programs.

On the philanthropic side, Hill House Hill has also organized  canned food and clothing drives, and its members have volunteered at area soup kitchens, said Lauren Hoops-Schmieg, executive director of the organization, who was on hand at the Civic Association’s May 16 annual meeting to receive the Beacon Award.

“It’s not just about youth programming, which is super important to the neighborhood, but we also work hard to connect people  in other ways to everyone who lives in Boston,” she said. “For example, on Valentine’s Day, we had kids create cards for seniors associated with Beacon Hill Village, and we had a giving-tree drive for Project Hope at Christmas time.”

Last year, Hill House also partnered with Whole Foods and Beacon House to deliver and distribute 100 bunches of tulips to senior residents, she added.

Hoops-Schmieg ultimately credits “strong community support” for Hill House’s enduring success.

“People have told us that they choose to live on Beacon Hill because they’ve heard of Hill House and how it’s able to connect neighbors,” she said,  “and that it’s such a community-oriented neighborhood.”

Russ Gaudreau, chair of the Nominating Committee for this year’s Beacon Awards, said Hill House was originally a “Beacon Hill Civic Association effort,” which quickly distinguished itself as an “independent community organization.”

Regarding Hill House’s qualifications as a Beacon Award recipient, Gaudreau said, “55 years is definitely sustained.”

As for “significance,” Gaudreau points to  how many families Hill House serves each year, along with “the impact that they make on a daily basis for Beacon Hill families and individuals, children, adults, and seniors.”

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