Our mission to the San Mateo County Juvenile Detention Center in San Mateo, to which we still refer as the “Hillcrest” Center in spite of the official name change more than three years ago, has now been ongoing every month for more than twenty years.
In fact, several “experienced” members of our Congregation remember previous iterations of this Mission all the way back to the 1960s! For those who may not be familiar with “Hillcrest”, this modern, state-of-the-art detention center houses boys and girls ages ten (10) to eighteen (18) years who have committed just about every kind of crime you can think of. A few are housed there (separate from those charged with crimes) simply because they are “wards of the court” and have nowhere else to go.
The “Hillcrest Ministry” employs two part-time ordained ministers who organize and supervise the volunteer mission programs from several churches throughout San Mateo County. Each church is asked to donate a minimum of $1,000 each year to compensate these two chaplains. No taxpayer monies are involved. Our mission is a once a month (first Tuesday) visit to the boys in Unit “Elm-6” for one hour, during which we: introduce ourselves, play a “sit-in-place” game (which settles them down and even gets them laughing at one another), have a 15-20 minute Bible study – involving them as readers, have a little birthday party – with gifts for those born in the current month, solicit prayers and concerns (on a first name basis only), and end with a final prayer. Yes, it is a “full” hour.
Current members of the Hillcrest Team are: Paul Michel, Kim Smith Nilsson, Howard Macway and Bill Van Cleve. And recently, several members of our Belmont UCC joined our team! We would really like to hear from anyone interested in joining in this most rewarding Mission to the young people at Hillcrest!