Kourtney Hill didn’t get the job she initially applied for at Stark County Job & Family Services.
But she must have made a good impression because the agency called her to see if she would be interested in another position in the agency’s adoption division.
“I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know a lot about social services or children’s services. My goal was always to be a paralegal or something in the court system and work in law,” said Hill, who graduated from Kent State University in 2010 with a degree in justice studies.
But after long conversations with her family and friends, she accepted. And now, 10 years later, Hill has been named the Outstanding Support Staff of the Year by the Public Children Services Association of Ohio.
“I have such a passion for the kids and families I work with in Stark County,” she said.
Hill’s title at Job & Family Services is a unit support worker II in the agency’s Division of Children Services. Her job description says she processes financial data for several programs within the agency and supports the adoption, placement and independent living units with various administrative tasks.
But the 2006 Marlington High School graduate does so much more.
She is the primary planner for the agency’s annual Heart Gallery Stark County, a large display of artwork that brings awareness about the children available for adoption. The project invites local artists to create a special portrait of a child, which is displayed at popular locations throughout Stark County. The children can then keep the artwork as a keepsake.
Hill also manages the Division of Children Services’ recruitment Facebook page at Facebook.com/StarkFosterAdopt, coordinates adoption photoshoots and designs the quarterly foster parent newsletter. She helps with the foster parent inquiry line, licensing and Wendy’s Wonderful Kids unit, foster parent training and the family resource unit.
“I never really knew how much went into social work,” she said. “Once you get in here, it’s a whole new world; the passion and heart that they have to help the families of Stark County is amazing.”
Outside of work, Hill can be found spending time with her husband of seven years, Aaron Hill, and their children, Abriana, 5, and Enzo, 1. The family now lives in Louisville.
“We just love spending time with them, getting out and going to local parks,” she said. “We spend a lot of time outside.”
Hill’s local favorites:
Favorite local restaurant:
“I love Lucia’s! My husband and I have celebrated anniversaries, birthdays and other special occasions there. The food and wine are amazing.”
Most memorable spot:
Canton Garden Center. “My husband and I got our engagement pictures done there, and we also had our first ‘official’ family photo of four done there. We have held some of our adoption photoshoots there, too. It’s a great location for pictures, and I enjoy seeing it change with the seasons.”
Favorite place to take the kids:
“The splash pad at Andy Aljancic Park in Louisville. It’s a great place for the kids to burn some energy and cool off in the summer. The city of Louisville did an amazing job adding that feature to the park. We also like to try local donut shops. On Friday’s when my husband and I are off work, we take the kids to different donut shops. We call this our ‘Donut Fridays.’ We frequent Johnnie’s (Bakery) and Dough Co.”
Favorite date night:
“Most of the time, it’s something as simple as ordering from Ermanno’s (Pizza) or getting ice cream from Pav’s (Creamery) and just having a game night with our friends.”
Favorite place to shop locally:
“I love home décor. My go-to place is P. Graham Dunn. I’m always stopping in to see what new products they have for the seasons. I got my daughter into it, too; she comes with me and will pick out an inspirational or fun quote to put in her room.”
Favorite indoor activity:
Glazed & Amused. “They offer a great selection of pottery, and it’s a great way to spend the day or evening. It’s a great place to take the kids to make special one-of-a-kind gifts for our family.”