Hillcroft Services Announces Building Better Futures Capital Campaign

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Kickoff Event Celebrates First Campaign In 65-Year History

On Thursday May 3rd, Hillcroft Services announced the public phase of their $9.2 million Building Better Futures capital campaign as part of a kickoff celebration in front of many campaign contributors, community leaders, board members, staff and media. To date, $8.1 million in funding has been secured leaving $1.1 million as the remaining goal of the public campaign.

While announcing the campaign to the event attendees, Hillcroft Services President and CEO, Debbie Bennett, stated, “This is the first time in its 65-year history that Hillcroft has called upon the public for this kind of support and the response to the call to action thus far has been tremendous, but we still need your help.”

The Building Better Futures campaign will allow Hillcroft to:

  • Consolidate services from several sites into one, providing Hillcroft the opportunity to better serve clients on one main campus with greater accessibility.
  • Remodel the existing space at the Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Clinic offering the opportunity for increased capacity, allowing Hillcroft to begin serving more children on the autism spectrum.
  • Create an additional 100 new jobs by December of 2024.
  • Increase growth in our manufacturing division, Hillcroft Industries, by employing individuals
    without disabilities to work alongside our clients, creating a fully integrated work setting.

Board of Directors Chair Jeff Helm, stated, “Hillcroft has a waiting list of community residents who need their services. Lack of space is the only reason these clients are not being served. The Hillcroft team is asking the community to help them serve even more clients to be able to further expand their innovative work.” Helm added, “Hillcroft has modeled good stewardship, demonstrating excellent and innovative service to thousands of clients over decades at their Streeter Avenue facility. Removing the space constraints will free Hillcroft to raise the bar even higher.”

Campaign Co-Chair Andy Bowne, stated, “We are at a point in our campaign to go public, meaning that we can see the finish line and it’s a beautiful representation of the very best of East Central Indiana. The investment of donors, whether large or not as large, is an affirmation of the important work that Hillcroft does each and every day. I’m so pleased to be a part of this team… and our family is better because of Hillcroft!”

Campaign Co-Chair Chris Cook, added, “I am excited to work with Hillcroft to make this project a reality. Hillcroft does tremendous work in our community and has never asked for the community’s support in this way. The completion of this project will provide Hillcroft the ability to increase the opportunities to serve those with special needs.”

While they embark on the public phase of the Building Better Futures campaign. Hillcroft is looking forward to watching the community join with them in investing in the future of Hillcroft Services’ facility consolidation and expansion to better serve the needs of those with disabilities in our community for the next 65 years and beyond.

About Hillcroft Services
Hillcroft Services, Inc. provides residential, employment, and community support services to individuals with disabilities in several counties in East Central Indiana. The mission of Hillcroft is: “To provide innovative services and supports for People with disabilities and their families; resulting in extraordinary differences in People’s lives.” Hillcroft is focused on creating a culture of strong values, understanding the importance of ethical behavior, and maintaining high quality services to the people we serve.

If you would like more information on how you can support Hillcroft Services and the Building Better Futures capital campaign, please visit https://www.hillcroft.org/contribute/ or contact Dan Wolfert at 765- 284-4166 Ext. 1108 or dwolfert@hillcroft.org.

Download our most recent Annual Report

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In 2017, HILLCROFT experienced growth, change, challenges, new life, and end of life, happiness, sadness and celebration.

Click here to view our most recent Annual Report.

This past year Hillcroft Services continued to help people with jobs … Hillcroft Industries employed 316 individuals to produce subcontracted work for businesses both locally as well as in surrounding states.

Hillcroft Services’ Community Service Award Presented to Bill and Gloria Gaither

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Hillcroft Services, Inc., a local provider of services for the developmentally disabled, hosted its Annual Client and Staff Thanksgiving Appreciation Luncheon at Union Chapel Ministries’ Oneighty Center on Friday, November 3rd. Nearly 500 clients, staff and community partners attended, making it one of the largest events held at the Oneighty Center.

During the luncheon, Debbie Bennett, Hillcroft President and CEO, presented Bill & Gloria Gaither with Hillcroft’s Community Service Award. The award recognizes those who have made a significant investment of time, talent and treasure to further Hillcroft’s mission.

The Gaithers are multi-award winning, world-renowned gospel music performers with careers that span over 50 years. Yet, in the midst of their busy schedules, they found time to share their special kind of love with a local community human service agency – Hillcroft Services – and to touch the lives of our clients. Gloria and Bill generously invested treasure in Hillcroft’s building expansion project and they have provided their own and their staff’s time, talent, and resources – equipment and studio time – to create three videos to encourage others to support Hillcroft. Those videos can be viewed at www.hillcroft.org

“On behalf of everyone affiliated with Hillcroft Services, I would like to deeply thank Bill and Gloria Gaither for recognizing the ‘ability in disability’ by presenting you with Hillcroft’s 2017 Community Service Award,” said Bennett who with Hillcroft Board Chair, Brenda Lloyd, honored the Gaithers.

Hillcroft Services, Inc. provides residential, employment and community support services to individuals with developmental disabilities in east central Indiana. The mission of Hillcroft is to provide innovative services and supports for People with disabilities and their families, resulting in extraordinary differences in People’s lives. Hillcroft Services encompasses several divisions: ABA Clinic, Creativity Unlimited, Hillcroft Industries and Reliable Transport. It is also a provider of residential and therapy services. www.hillcroft.org

Carry: Sandy Penrod’s Story

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I learned to walk when I was two. Until then, I was carried or scooted myself where I needed to go. My new iron leg braces went from the bottom of my feet to my hips and wouldn’t bend at all. I practiced every day on the front lawn with the wooden parallel bars my dad made for me. Our neighbor sat on his front porch steps across the street and watched me learn to walk. He always cried big, fat, silent tears. I didn’t understand why my neighbor cried for me. I have always had a spirit of determination. Being a polio survivor is all I know.

I contracted polio during the epidemic in 1949. I was nine months old. At the time, it was the worst fear of parents with young kids, but my mom and dad made the best of it. They treated me just like my siblings and loved me like a “normal” kid. In the summers before elementary school, I went to Camp Isanogel to swim and play. There were other children with disabilities. Some kids wore leg braces like me, but others were challenged with different physical limitations or mental disabilities. We were all the same in that we were different. It was fun and I felt accepted. But all that changed when I started Kindergarten.

On my first day at Harry Mock School, I was five years old, wore a size 3 dress, and weighed 25 pounds. I could barely see over the teacher’s desk. I was nervous, just like most new Kindergarten students. I expected challenges, but I was not prepared for the shock and confusion of being put in the basement. They didn’t know what to do with us, the students with physical or mental disabilities, so we went to the basement—beneath the regular classrooms for our “special” schooling.

I don’t remember much about K-2, but I’m pretty sure I lost more than just proper education down there. By the time I went into a mainstream classroom in 3rd grade, my can-do spirit had started to fade. There wasn’t one particular bully who beat me down. My erosion happened gradually as day after day, year after year, I was the girl without a best friend, the one picked last for teams, and the easy target of primary school humor. Once I learned to walk, I believed I could do anything. By the end of grade school, all I wanted to do was walk away.


In 8th grade, we moved to a new school. My dad decided we were leaving the city and I started at Eaton School. I didn’t know it at the time, but my first teacher, Mr. Bixler, told my class, “There’s a new girl coming today and she is crippled. I better not ever hear of anyone making fun of her. Ever.” And they didn’t! In fact, I met my best friend, Cynthia, there. We are still best friends to this day.

A boy asked me to dance. His name was Rick and he didn’t ask on a dare or because he felt sorry for me. He asked because he wanted to slow dance . . . with me. Since then, I’ve always loved to dance. I never thought that would happen for me, but it did! High School was full of fond memories and wonderful friendships. I was voted ”most witty” in my senior class.

I wish I could say that my whole life was happy like high school. But I’ve had a couple of bad marriages and years when the heartache of my past caught up with me. My determined spirit dissolved. I stopped working. I stopped socializing. I stopped caring. I was content to raise my daughter and collect a welfare check.

Fortunately, the welfare department didn’t want me to stay home any longer, and they found a job for me as a receptionist at Hillcroft in September 1976. I tried to fail my typing test, but they hired me anyway. It was the best thing that could have happened. I’ve been working at Hillcroft for 38 years and I can’t imagine working anywhere else. I am now the Administrative Manager. I oversee front office duties and client records. Every day I ask myself what my team and I can do to make someone else’s job better. Everything in my life has improved since I started working here. I’m happily married and love playing, and yes, dancing, with my grandkids as often as possible.


In high school, my class visited Wyandotte Cave in Southern Indiana to explore the long, dark, damp, and difficult terrain of the underground. I knew before we started it would be a long and difficult path, but it never occurred to me not to go. I was always up for an adventure! During the last stretch, I couldn’t walk any farther. I simply couldn’t go any more. My friends came around me and laced their hands together under me. They took turns making baskets with their arms and they carried me the rest of the way out. I realize now I never would have gone into that cave if I didn’t trust that my friends would be sure I made it all the way through. I wasn’t afraid because I knew I was accepted and safe.

That’s what we have here at Hillcroft—an environment where people with disabilities trust us not to leave them behind. Clients are willing to take risks and try new things because they know they are accepted and safe. We encourage everyone to go farther than they believed possible through work projects, sports teams, art, music, and friendship. We do this by lacing together to be sure every person reaches their goal.

Everyone needs carried now and then.

Written by:
Jennifer Stanley is a Muncie native, entrepreneur, musician, and aspires to spend more time writing. She appreciates any opportunity to advocate for the awesome people and agencies in Muncie, IN

The Gift: Josh Scamihorn’s Story

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When I was born thirty-seven years ago, the hospital told my mother, “You don’t have to take him home if you don’t want him.”

She ignored the suggestion, just as she dismissed the sympathy cards from “well wishers” that she received upon the news of my birth.

For the record, I’m glad she kept me.

Within one hour of my birth, she knew that she was a mother of a special needs child—I was identified with Downs Syndrome. From the beginning nothing was normal for her. I would never be just her baby Joshua. I would only be spoken about with the phrase added, “He’s a Down’s baby.”

“Don’t expect too much,” that’s what they told her. But a wonderful thing happened. She was my mom and I was her long-awaited baby boy. I was unconditionally loved, accepted, and cherished. A new journey for both of us was just beginning.

Life is quite normal for me: A nice home, family and friends, a job I love, and a very active and busy schedule. There are several things that make my life great! I have the greatest mother & stepdad—I call him “dad”—in the entire universe, I love to work, and holidays are the best, especially Christmas! There is nothing like it. Santa, Mom and Dad, family, wrapped presents, food, music, and of course the Christmas story and baby Jesus.

Mom and Dad think I am pretty special. But I think they are very special, too. Mom is so patient with me, even when I am stubborn. I always want to sit in the front pew at church—every Sunday! She patiently reminds me that sometimes I fall asleep in church and snore . . . loudly, so we sit in the back.

She has allowed me to try almost everything and anything including horseback riding, basketball (even after two open heart surgeries), bowling, swimming, golf, and lots more. My dad and I play golf together and do we ever have stories to tell. Like the time I was on the green and loudly said, “Hey Dad, I named my putter!” And when he asked me what I named it, I said, “Harry Putter!” I am pretty sure he has a great time with me because he laughs and smiles a lot.

A lot of people complain about their jobs—not me! I love going to work! When Hillcroft was closed last winter because of the ice and snow, I thought I might be the only one who would not be there to work. “They need me,” I told mom. “Am I letting the other workers down? Besides, what will I do all day? Mom, I need the money. If I don’t work, I won’t get money. I’m saving my money for my vacation!”

Being Joshua is quite an adventure. I have done so many things I have been told I would never be able to do. For all of the uncertainty that mom and I faced at the beginning, life has turned out okay for me and my mom. I tell her over and over that I love her and that I am glad that she is my mom.

“Joshua,” she says, “I do not know what I would have ever done without you. You brighten each of my days. You are what gives me hope for tomorrow, and you have filled my life with so much love.”

She tells me that I’m her special gift.

Written by:
Ted Baker is the Executive Director of the Muncie Innovation Connector and Chairperson of the Hillcroft Services Board of Directors. This is one of the neatest projects he has ever worked on.

First Annual Trunk or Treat for the Community

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Hillcroft Services Celebrates Halloween with First Annual Trunk or Treat for the Community on October 31, 2017, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Hillcroft Services, Muncie, Ind., a local provider of services for the developmentally disabled is celebrating Halloween with its First Annual Trunk or Treat for the children of our community on Tuesday evening, October 31, 2017 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Hillcroft clients and their house managers are making plans to decorate cars, dress in costume and distribute candy to trick-or-treaters. Jesse Yoder, Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional (QIDP), says, “This is a way for our clients to give back to the community. We invite everyone to make this a part of your trick-or-treating plans this year.”

The Trunk or Treat will be held in the Hillcroft Services parking lot at 114 E. Streeter Avenue (Streeter is south of McGalliard Road between Walnut and Granville).

The event is sponsored by Hillcroft’s Residential Services program. Residential Services helps clients increase and strengthen their independence with everyday tasks that others may take for granted. Hillcroft offers every client the chance to become a contributing and successful member of society and believes that building relationships is the key to achieving success in life and attaining happiness.

For more information about Hillcroft’s Trunk or Treat event contact Mr. Jesse Yoder, QIDP, at 765-284-4166.

2017 Hillcroft Talent Show

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The Annual Hillcroft Services Talent Show was held on October 3, 2017.

Emceed by the inimitable LeAnne Cole, VP Therapy Services, over 30 acts sang, dance, cheered, and performed for a full-house of family, staff and clients. A good time was had by all.

The winners selected by this year’s panel of judges which included Debbie Bennett, Hillcroft CEO, and Tracena Marie, director of Barrier-Free Theatre of Muncie, will perform at Hillcroft’s Annual Client and Staff Thanksgiving Appreciation Luncheon on November 3, 2017.

The Music Therapy department, under the direction of Anna Wamhoff, helped the clients prepare their acts and accompanied their performances.

The Hillcroft Services Talent Show awardees are:

1st Prize
Kory Jones on drums with Jacob Sloan on electric guitar

Phil Zearbaugh
“I’ll Fly Away”

Hayden Howard, Brad Moreland, and Joe Deregnaucourt
Nite at the Roxbury Dance

Janie Groves
“Suspicious Minds”

Stephanie Gilliam
“Mary Did You Know”

Finding Robert Trisha Linton’s: Story about Robert Cupp

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Robert has been living and working with Trisha and the staff of Hillcroft since 2005. The previous institution he had lived in for many years was closed by the state due to numerous questionable practices. Robert is without words, but has recently started to communicate and show desire to learn and interact with his surroundings and the people who are caring for him.

Robert sits in his chair, rocking back and forth. He has his right hand resting in the top of his shirt, fingertips pointing towards his heart. His fingertips on his other hand touch his face, starting at his forehead, then trace the lines of his face downward, stopping to retrace certain grooves and lines around his mouth.

I don’t know what Robert’s life was like in the institution he was in before I met him, and I’ll never really know, but I can piece together bits of it and glean certain parts. I imagine it as being lonely. I imagine Robert spending all of his time in his room with no one to bring him out and make him present. No one to let him know that it is safe outside of his room and that he can find security beyond its doorframe. I don’t think he ever understood that a community of people that he can trust exists until recently. I imagine his only spark of warmth was when his mom would visit him. He lights up when he sees his mom.

What I do know, for sure, is that at some point in his life Robert decided that he hates potatoes. It doesn’t matter how they are fixed, how they look, or how they smell, he will always pass on anything potato. I also know, for sure, that Robert loves cupcakes, popcorn, and The Three Stooges. The first time I heard Robert laugh was when we were watching that show. I had known him for years. Unlike the Stooges and their flailing arms, slugs in the shoulder, or knocks on the head, Robert’s laugh surprised us all. He was focused, he was laughing, and he was secure enough to show us. Turns out, he thinks I Love Lucy is just as enchanting.

The first time Robert ever signed the word “Yes,” I thought about screaming, or crying, or maybe even doing a little bit of both. His next word that he signed was “more.” Those little words showed me that he was with us, acknowledging himself, showing me that he had wants, needs, and desires. He wasn’t going to spend his life being a number assigned to him, hidden away in a room. He wasn’t just going to be a notion in the background or an afterthought. It became my mission to bring Robert out and to stretch his comfort zone a little each day. I don’t want him to be that silent, broken man who felt the need to guard his food from others and to avoid everyone. I want him to be the Robert that I find an aisle away in the grocery store, eating Nutty Bars out of the box. I want him to fold his laundry, know his routine, notice his surroundings, and not turn away from attention.

I always remind myself that our roles in life can be easily reversed. They can change in seconds. It’s not the question of “What if our roles were reversed?” that gets to me—it’s the thought that our roles can be reversed swiftly and without choosing.

Robert proves to me day after day that life is about the small things. He shows me a strength I will never know or pretend to understand. To be unafraid and know your place when the day ends, to lie still, to find peace in the company of people you trust—that is happiness.

I am thrilled that Robert is finding his.

Written by:
Sara Renee in brief: camera always in hand, daydreams of traveling with her gaggle of Weimaraners again, and will someday, make it back to Alaska. Until then, she enjoys digging in the dirt, wandering through the woods, and jotting instances down in one of her several notebooks.

Who is Rocky Balboa?: Robert “Robbie” Gerard’s Story

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The morning sun streams in through the Walgreens window over the bright, white snow and blue sky. It looks sunny and warm outside, like when I went to Florida, but I’m no fool. I know better.
Like clockwork, it’s Monday and I’m ready to begin my shift at Walgreens. I get right to work. The customers are shuffling in from the bitter cold “polar vortex” I keep hearing about, with snow on their shoes.

I follow them with my mop, so no one slips and falls on the trail of melted snow puddles from the door to the pharmacy. I try not to get too close, but sometimes customers turn around and wonder what I’m up to. When they do, I smile at them and they smile right back. I say, “Welcome to Walgreen’s. How are you today?”

Sometimes they answer and sometimes they don’t, but they always smile.

My manager Craig tells me that’s why I just earned my employee service award; he says I notice everything and I’m always looking for ways to help. Most of all, Craig tells me I make everyone smile—that I’m a great big warm hug on a cold day, like today. He says I bring magic to his store.

I always check in and ask Craig, “How are you, buddy?” He says, “I’m doing just fine.”
Craig says he appreciates it that I care how he’s doing.

I thought I was just doing my job.

The Walgreen’s aisles are towers of all sorts of things that I love and other things I don’t: candy, sweets, magazines, toys and all sorts of gadgets and gizmos that customers are all the time trying to find. My job is to keep them nice and neat. Most customers are good about putting things back where they belong, but a few others can be messy. I sometimes wonder to myself if they were born in a barn.

If a customer asks me about the candy we have, I can tell them anything they want to know, but I don’t know about all those medicines; I find Craig when customers ask me about them. I have no idea about make-up or nail polish stuff and feel a little bashful when I’m in that section. It’s not “my thing,” but the pictures of Carrie Underwood and all the other pretty ladies are nice to look at when I’m straightening up—so I don’t mind cleaning up that section very much, at all.

My favorite part of working at Walgreen’s is hearing the music that plays on the radio. I like AC/DC, but that doesn’t usually play on Walgreen’s radio station. Every once in a while I hear my music. Carrie Underwood comes on a lot.

Did I tell you that I like Carrie Underwood?

My shift is almost up and it went by so fast. I make my rounds one more time and am sure to tell everyone, “Goodbye! See you next Monday!”

Now it’s time to go.

I’m off to my second job at the Hillcroft workshop. I have lots of friends there. People tell me I am a rock star worker, all the time, especially Mrs. Brenda. Mrs. Brenda is my good friend, looks out for me, and is always saying really nice and kind of embarrassing things about me. She’s tells everyone how awesome my wavy, dark hair is, how sweet I am, and how hard I work. I don’t know why, but I get embarrassed easily when people say nice things about me. Mr. Todd, who I see a lot and always has my back at home, tells me I’m trouble. Maybe he should tell Mrs. Brenda that.

Just the other day, someone told me I looked like the actor Sly Stallone, who plays boxer Rocky Balboa from the Rocky movies.

I asked, “Who’s Rocky Balboa?” I don’t know who he is, but now I want to watch the “Rocky” movies.

I’m not Rocky Balboa—I’m me. But maybe I could be Robbie Balboa, just this once.

Written by:
Aimee Robertson-Fant is a mother of three, co-founder of Muncie Matters, and is a community organizer for the Muncie Action Plan. She has been a public educator for at-risk youth, a photojournalist, and was a storyteller and photographer for last year’s Facing Project in Muncie: Facing Autism.


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Hillcroft Industries, a division of Hillcroft Services, Inc., is celebrating its ISO 9001:2015 certificate of registration for its quality management system. A ribbon-cutting ceremony conducted by the Muncie Chamber of Commerce was held on Thursday, October 5th, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m., at th 501 W. Air Park Drive location.

Hillcroft Industries, formerly Cannon Industries, has performed parts assembly, packaging, kitting, collating, and sorting work for various industries in east central Indiana for over 60 years. Customers have included local businesses, OEMs, Tier 1 automotive suppliers, and international manufacturers and distributers from various industries.

“ISO 9001:2015 certification is a significant milestone for Hillcroft Industries and its employees. It demonstrates Hillcroft’s commitment to a quality management system that focuses on the process approach, continuous improvement, and a robust customer focus that delivers consistent, quality results,” according to Mike Salmon, Vice President of Business Development, who led the company and initiated its journey toward certification. “It’s been a long journey and a cultural shift for many within the company who were unaccustomed to standardized work practices and quality principles. The implementation of a solid quality management system has been transformative for the company, its employees, and the customers who have recognized the results of these efforts. The ISO 9001:2015 certification from SAI Global was ‘icing on the cake’ and affirms our quality management system and helps prepare us for continued, sustainable growth.”

ISO 9001:2015 is an international standard which specifies requirements for a quality management system that wishes to demonstrate the ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements and aims to enhance customer satisfaction.

Hillcroft Services, Inc. provides residential, employment and community support services to individuals with developmental disabilities. The mission of Hillcroft is to provide innovative services and supports for People with disabilities and their families, resulting in extraordinary differences in People’s lives. Hillcroft Services encompasses several divisions: ABA Clinic, Creativity Unlimited, Hillcroft Industries and Reliable Transport. It is also a provider of residential and therapy services.

For more information on Hillcroft Industries, contact Mike Salmon, VP Business Development, or Michael Whitlock, VP Business Operations, at 765-284-4166.