Josh & Lauren

Josh and Lauren were sleeping on couches and floors in the home of a church friend before they came to Hillcrest. They had just returned home to Kansas City after leaving for an out-of-state job opportunity that fell through. Josh and Lauren were young and had never been taught how to live on a budget. With two small boys, they knew they needed some help to get back on their feet.

Beginning on their first day at Hillcrest, they were soaked up every piece of advice they were offered by staff and volunteers. Some days Josh and Lauren would pass each other coming and going from work, handing the boys off to each other with a kiss goodbye. Their hard work and dedication to the budgeting process resulted in great success. They used the entire amount of their yearly tax refund to pay off several debts. They are the top Hillcrest family when it comes to debt paid off!

Photography by Claire Ryser

Photo by Claire Ryser


Vanessa did not feel safe in her home and made the difficult decision to leave. She lived with a friend and in a shelter before transitioning into our youth housing. She was afraid and lonely at first, but she took the Hillcrest practices to heart, becoming a fierce saver!

After graduating from high school, Vanessa worked a retail job 30 hours each week. Hillcrest supported Vanessa by providing shelter, food, budget counseling, life skills classes, plus bus passes and access to needed healthcare. Besides that, Vanessa received a scholarship through the newly established Hillcrest Youth Scholarship Fund. She graduated from Hillcrest and moved into student housing at Donnelly. Vanessa is tackling her dream of becoming a nurse! 


Hillcrest residents can look just like one of your neighbors, and Corky is an example. She was a typical suburban soccer mom raising two pre-teen boys.

Corky had a full-time job of 11 years making stable income to support her family of three. While her sons would go to visit their father, Corky supplemented her income by working as a server part-time. However, when she was laid off from her full-time job in 2012, she never could find comparable work.  Slowly she started falling behind on bills until she was so far behind that she lost her car and her home.

Weeks prior to finding out about the Hillcrest program, Corky’s life took a turn for the worst. The car she was now driving didn’t have insurance,  the tags were expired and her licence suspended; the traffic tickets started piling up. This meant she owed roughly $1,500 owed to four different cities and counties. Just when she thought it was time to surrender, her best friend called to tell her about Hillcrest. With no hesitation Corky applied. She knew it was the only thing that could help change the course of her and her boys’ lives.

Corky moved in and immediately embraced the budgeting process. She paid off all her traffic tickets in the first month! Her budget counselor knew the landlord Corky owed for a past eviction, and the debt was settled for half. She paid off upwards of $4,000 during her stay at Hillcrest.

Corky and her boys moved to their own apartment and soon after she was promoted to the assistant general manager position at a local restaurant.



Clarissa and her daughters were living in what they thought was a rent-to-own home before Hillcrest. She learned a tough lesson when the landlord’s cousin needed a place to live. With no official lease and limited knowledge of landlord-tenant laws, Clarissa felt as if she had no choice but to leave.

Once joining the Hillcrest program and working with her budget counselor, a local bank manager, she quickly gathered information about other homebuying options including a first-time home buyers program.

Clarissa’s daughters sat in on budget meetings and soaked up the information, too. Both had part-time jobs and began to develop their own budgets.

Clarissa connected with a mortgage broker (a regular Hillcrest volunteer) to discuss her credit score and options. Though their family entered a lease after completing the 90-day program, it was only six months until Clarissa enjoyed the reality of homeownership!


Carol grew up in dysfunctional foster homes and battled alcoholism for many years. After her first DUI she realized it was time to get help. She entered a treatment facility and had not had a drink in over a year when she applied to our program. During that same year before she moved into Hillcrest, Carol focused on school and regaining custody of her children. She completed her massage therapy training but was unable to get licensed with the legal fees and fines hanging over her, so she used her time at Hillcrest to work two jobs and pay off the fees.

Carol’s hard work paid off. Her driver’s license was reinstated, and about a month into the 90-day program, she was reunited with her children, who joined her at Hillcrest. She also regained the trust of her extended family as they watched her become the mother they knew she could be.



Bobbi was referred to Hillcrest by her church. She found herself with no income or support when her husband suddenly left her and their two boys. Bobbi was meek and scared of failure when she first started the 90-day program. Her car was not running and she did not have childcare.

The staff and volunteers at Hillcrest worked with her to locate childcare, paid for car repairs and even ran her through mock job interviews. Bobbi was scared but determined and quickly found a seasonal job with the IRS. The job ended after tax season, but Bobbi’s skills recommended her for a position with another government agency where she is still employed five years later!

Rachel & Kaiden

Rachel found Hillcrest in the nick of time. She was living with her family who was ready to kick her out when her application came up at Hillcrest. During the program Rachel learned to distinguish needs and wants. She also developed a deep respect for Jackie, her case manager. Jackie’s high expectations compelled Rachel to dedicate herself to success, or as she puts it, “I worked my tail off!”

Rachel and four-year-old son Kaiden moved out with a whole apartment’s worth of furniture donated by Hillcrest. Now she volunteers as secretary of a church plant down the street from her home. Rachel continues to work full-time at a call center and care for her family.

Rachel is simply thrilled that Hillcrest empowered her to make a positive change for herself and her son.