Hilltop Neighborhood Outreach
Homes in the neighborhood were originally built in the 1940's as temporary housing for people who worked in the aircraft industry during World War II.
Over the years, Hilltop has become a transient neighborhood of low-income people with few homeowners. Crime has been a particular problem. Unemployment is high and access to transportation is limited.
The sisters became increasingly concerned for their neighbors as the Hilltop neighborhood declined. Dear Neighbor Ministries grew out of that concern.
Like the first Sisters of St. Joseph who went into the city to serve the people who lived there, Sisters Ann Catherine Burger and Sedonia Isenbart began visiting the ‘dear neighbors’ of Hilltop. When it became apparent that help was required to accomplish their mission, lay workers were added and Dear Neighbor Ministries was born in 2001.
Today the staff includes an executive director, a community outreach coordinator, a volunteer coordinator, and Sister Ann Catherine, who continues to make home visits. Sometimes accompanied by a student intern from one of the local universities, Sister Ann Catherine goes from house to house to learn of the needs of Hilltop residents. At their first meeting, she asks each family to fill out an assessment sheet which is used to plan for services.
Since 2002 several key projects have been completed thanks to the efforts of many individuals and groups, including the demolition of several unsafe structures and construction of several new residences by Mennonite Housing. Improvements in the Hilltop neighborhood--which benefit homeowners, landlords and tenants--continue to be a priority for Dear Neighbor Ministries.