In 1972, the Blauvelt Dominican Sisters, Dominican College students, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and volunteers opened the House on the Hill Migrant Child Care Center in Goshen, New York.
The House on the Hill is a member of the Agri-Business Child Development (ABCD) center network and accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Also, ABCD at Goshen provides Migrant and Seasonal Head Start, ensuring that each child (2 mos. old to 5 Yrs. old) receives comprehensive educational, health and social services.
Since its founding, ABCD at Goshen, House on the Hill has been a Blauvelt Dominican ministry site. Sister Jean Marie, one of the founders ran the House on the Hill and in 1981 Blauvelt Dominican Sister Jean Graffweg came to teach there. She has served as Center Director for the ABCD at Goshen, House on the Hill, since 1993.
Sister Jean, who has been a member of the Blauvelt Dominican Sisters since 1965, has always been passionate about education. It was this passion that led her volunteer at the House on the Hill while teaching in Providence, Rhode Island and eventually work there full time.
“Being a Dominican Sister of Blauvelt means service and giving to the families and children of migrant farm workers,” said Sister Jean. “Each morning when the kids get off the bus, they run and give you a big hug. We provide stability in their life,” as well as providing a sound educational foundation.
For Sister Jean, a typical day begins at 6:30 AM when she arrives at her office. Her staff arrives around 7:30 and then by 7:45, the children start to arrive and by 8 AM she has 65 children who are ready for breakfast and to begin their day.
During each day, Sister Jean performs her administrative duties but makes a special effort to visit each classroom and eat lunch with one of the groups. Sister Jean considers her staff to be a big family as the staff turnover is extremely low and between her 28 staff members, there is over 365 years of service at the House on the Hill.
“We are a family here,” she said with a smile on her face. Sister Jean views the future of the ABCD at Goshen, House on the Hill to be very a long and bright one due to the great need for her program in the migrant farm worker community. However, to maintain that positive outlook, Sister Jean has to focus on improving the upkeep of the building.
To learn more about ABCD at Goshen, House on the Hill, you can visit: www.abcdny.org.