Millicent “Mama” Hill is one of those amazing people who has dedicated her entire life to the heroic pursuit of making others happy. She runs a program called Mama Hill’s Help that provides a refuge for children who endure difficult situations in dangerous environments in one of the most poverty stricken parts of Los Angeles.
Mama Hill is a lifelong educator having spent 40 years teaching before retiring and opening her home in 2000, to children and their parents who are in need. She provides tutoring and educational services in a safe environment to youth who are struggling against the disadvantages of poverty. She has an amazing talent for education and for inspiring troubled children to find joy in empowering themselves and take an active role in their own educations.
Ms. Hill’s lifelong philosophy has been one of love and respect. The secret to her success with the many children whose lives she has touched has been to treat them with the love and respect that they craved and that many had not experienced before. Her goals are to help educate but also to help these children build the self-esteem they need to go out into the world and break free of their restrictive situations.
The program gives children academic support as well as counseling and mentoring. Ms. Hill also provides the children with food, claiming that some of them depend upon her for their main source of nourishment. She helps inform the children about significant threats to their progress, such as gangs, violence, pregnancy and drugs. She provides music lessons, training for job related skills and helps them prepare for college.
Her heroic supply of love and support pay off as well, and Mama Hill is only too happy to be of service. There is an amazing rate of success for the children she takes under her wing. According to her website, there is a 50 percent increase in parental or guardian support for the children in their educational pursuits. 80 percent read above their grade level, 95 percent of those who graduated from her program went on to finish high school and 100 percent passed on to the next grade level.
Her journey began in the 1960s when a young man attempted to assault her as she held hands with a man who was white. A rock was thrown at her head and a young man leapt from a truck, rushing towards her. She stood her ground and met his eyes, after which he stopped and returned to his truck. It was then that she began to work towards easing the pain of others because she believes that those who are hurting hurt others and those who are happy help each other.
She does not hesitate to reach out to those who are hurting, either. When one of her students reported that another young girl had slapped her, Ms. Hill insisted that the girl be brought over to the house. The young girl came, was brought into the fold and is moved to tears when she discusses the impact Mama Hill has had on her life, insisting she would still be a “bad” kid if it were not for Ms. Hill.
Ms. Hill estimates that she has helped close to 3,000 children through this program.
Recently, Ms. Hill participated in a study for the Happiness Project in which she was asked to take a psychological test that measured happiness. She got a perfect score; the first that the team had ever experienced. It seems that theory that drove Mama Hill to do all of her work was true and happy people really do engage in heroic deeds. Her perfect happiness score seems to reflect of the tremendous impact she has had on Los Angeles youth for nearly 50 years.
By Vanessa Blanchard
Mama Hill’s Help