John Hildebrand

Thank you to Lammé and Associates.

Hanging on the wall inside the conference room hung an old newspaper clipping, with a headline that read, “Payroll company turns century-old building into new office space.”

I took a quick glance around the conference room inside the office of Autopaychecks, Inc., the company managing payroll for The House and a Grand Junction bookkeeping service, before the President of Business Development, John Hildebrand, came in for our interview. The outside of the building indeed consisted of century-old brick, but inside fresh paint and stained wood gave the building a totally different feel.

“Everybody can play some role in helping, financially or in getting a task done,” says Hildebrand, who offers his company’s services to several nonprofit organizations. “And doing the payroll for the organization is what we’re going to take on as our role in the piece. It’s about two to three thousand dollars per year to buy these services, so if you don’t have to pay for that, you can take that money and use it toward your mission. That’s how we can help.”

Hildebrand had little need to be made aware of the population of homeless teenagers in Mesa County, having spent significant time as a foster parent.

“My wife and I did foster care for two children, a boy and a girl,” he said. “But the little guys are easy. Teenage boys and girls are some of the toughest groups to deal with because most people in foster care are looking for a child, not a teenager. You don’t know what’s under the face or what their history is. We were not prepared for that sort of thing. To have a house that is built to do that, where people are trained to provide a safe landing place for kids in that situation, is really needed in our community.”

Hildebrand’s experience as a foster father fine-tuned him for something like The House.

“When you’re not in that world, you don’t think about how awful it is for those kids on a daily basis,” he said. “The stories of those kids that have to go into foster care are horrifying. We had kids with pretty significant problems that had to be dealt with.”

So when Hildebrand was approached with the opportunity to manage payroll and become a Guardian for such teens, the choice was easy.

“When I first heard about this population in the Grand Valley, I didn’t know what to do about it,” he said. “There are kids in foster care that are never taken to a family, and my understanding is that 85 percent of the kids who age out of the foster care system and are not connected to a family end up homeless as adults. Because they never learned good social skills, how to trust, or how to connect. So all those things that shape us into responsible people – discipline, education, consequences – they didn’t get.”

But with The House open, according to Hildebrand, now they can.

“Now there’s hope for them,” he said. “And I think that hope is the first step toward trust and healing. I think if you are hopeless then it’s very difficult to move forward. Until kids have hope that it’s possible, they probably can’t take the next step, which I think only happens through something like a family relationship, where they begin to understand that there are people in life who they can trust.”

I glanced up again at the newspaper headline on the wall. If buildings can be renewed, then surely people can be.

“And I think it starts with a safe place,” said Hildebrand. “A good meal. Kind people who are different. So in a couple of weeks they stay there and

get a glimpse of what’s possible. I

think frequently God doesn’t do what we think is possible because then we can take credit for it. I think God does the impossible because we can’t take credit for it. And I think that’s what is possible for these kids, is that God will step in and do what is not possible.”

Hildebrand has put his money where his heart is, committing to being a Guardian.

“There’s an old Russian proverb: Pray to God, and row to shore,” said Hildebrand. “There are a lot of people who sit in their rowboat with their oars inside the boat; and it’s not that God doesn’t act outside of us, but I think there’s a healthy amount of expectation for us to do our part. And as we do our part, He empowers us to do it. Every person and business has a unique skill or service to offer, so just do what you can. This is worth helping.”

Please visit to learn more about The House and how to become a Guardian.



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