Hill House Experience Comes Full Circle for Some One-Time Participants Via Volunteering

Hill House, since its 1966 formation, has made an indelible impression on the lives of countless youth from Beacon Hill and other downtown neighborhoods through its athletic programming and other offerings, and for some, this formative experience comes full circle when they reach adulthood and decide to give back by volunteering with the organization.

Will Natoli, a 31-year-old River Street resident who grew up on Beacon Hill, first came to Hill House at around the age of 4 when his father, John Natoli, was serving on the board of the nonprofit community center. (The senior Natoli, who works as general counsel for the Boston Retirement Board, was on the board for 25 years, from 1978 until 2003, serving as its president in 2001-02 and as co-president, alongside Sharon Malt, from 1998 to 2000).

Will Natoli (top left) and members of the Hill House soccer team.

Besides attending the summer camp with his brother, Charlie, Will participated in baseball and summer and was on hand for Halloween parties and other special events sponsored by Hill House throughout his childhood. He would even pitch in at Hill House’s annual Christmas tree sale as a youngster, he said, with him and a friend each carrying one end of a tree down Mount Vernon Street en route to its destination.

Will aged out of Hill House’s programming by the time he reached his early teens and went away to boarding school soon afterwards, but he would still help out with the tree deliveries (albeit no longer on foot) after he got his driver’s license and would come home for the holidays.

After high school, Will returned to Boston to attend Suffolk University, earning his Bachelor of Journalism degree in 2012. He began his career selling residential real estate three years later and, as a newcomer to that industry, wanted to get more involved in and give back to the communities where he was working. Somewhat inevitably, this drew Will, who now serves as senior vice president at Compass Real Estate’s Newbury Street office, back to Hill House because, he said, “it brought back so many great memories from when I was a kid.”

Although he had no prior coaching experience, Will has now been volunteering as a baseball and soccer coach at Hill House for five years.  “It’s been an awesome experience,” he said.

His father, who credits much of Will’s future success to the formative time he spent at Hill House, said, “Will’s really good at networking, building bridges and collaborating with people, and a lot of these skills he probably developed at Hill House over the years with its programming. I think it imbued Will with the community spirit that he’s really good at.”

Marshall Caldera, Hill House’s athletic director, describes Will as “by far our most-consistent volunteer presence.”

Caldera said, “Will’s remained a really consistent volunteer, just contributing a couple of hours each week. It’s really amazing and not that common, which speaks to his giving nature.”

Now 29, Caldera got involved in Hill House himself through its baseball program when he was 9 and his family relocated to the North End from Arizona, and he also went participated in the summer camp, among other offerings.

Like Will, Caldera also aged out of Hill House’s programming when he reached his teens, but each summer when he was attending the University of Maine as an undergrad, he would return to Boston and work as a councilor at the summer camp.

Upon earning his degree in 2013, Caldera returned to Boston, and to Hill House, where he found employment as an off-season coach. He climbed the organization’s ranks from athletic instructor, to camp director, to athletic coordinator, before being named athletic manager in 2016.

Today, Caldera, who was promoted to athletic director last November, credits Hill House’s enduing success largely to the selfless commitment of volunteers like Will.

“Hill House is very much a volunteer organization,” Caldera said, “and it’s beyond words how much Will and others like him have done for us.”

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