Community Foundation for Southwest Washington honors those who care

Over the years, Hiller has had to calibrate her goal, but her passion for supporting those in need has only grown. She believes that compassion, determination and collaboration can provide people experiencing homelessness a path to reestablishing their lives in Clark County.

As a volunteer, Hiller helps provide meals and other resources at the Winter Hospitality Overflow shelter. She also helps with building upkeep. But what she does most is build relationships with those who stay at the shelter, who she affectionately calls “the guys.”

“They really are a good group of guys,” she said. “Some of them have made bad decisions. For some of them, it’s just life and home circumstances. Most of them have not had a relationship with a family, basically. It’s easy for me to step into as a mom or a grandma figure. It helps to build a relationship with them, because a lot of times when they first come in, they really don’t trust anybody. They’ve been hurt on the street, and so they really don’t trust. It takes a while, but once they can look you in the eye, then you know they’re coming around, and that’s a good feeling.”

When she started working with people experiencing homelessness, some of her family members were concerned. Now, many of them — including her two grandsons — have volunteered at the shelter, too.

“It’s become a family thing,” she said. “For two years in a row, my grandsons brought the La Center high school basketball team down to the WHO to volunteer for a night. It was fun. And the guys enjoyed it, too. I believe that if we can bring our kids in on the ground floor and help them understand what life is all about, I think there’s a chance to make the world a better place.”