Our mission is to nurture secure bonds for healthy families and bright futures.

A House In Austin House Heart Logo

A Community of Parenting Support

We're a group of parents, caregivers, professionals and neighbors that believe in empowering each other in the most challenging task given to us — raising our children. We desire to nurture and strengthen the bonds in families and be supported in all we do.

An inspired start

Founder Erica Hilgart never intended to start a nonprofit organization. New to Oak Park, she was struggling in her role as a mother to three children. Attending a Musikgarten class in Oak Park, she was struck with the stark dividing line of resources available for families between Oak Park and Austin. With her experience as a former CPS teacher on the west side of Chicago, she had the idea to create a similar parent-child music class in the Austin neighborhood.   In January 2016 that idea came to life. Boppin' Babies & Toddlers Music Class held its first class – made possible with the help of friends, family, and space provided by the By the Hand Club. Each week the class grew as families spread the word and invited friends to class.  In the second semester of 2016, the class had grown to 14 committed families with 16 babies and toddlers. Each step led to the next — including the purchase of the house on the corner of Pine & Race in Austin — to be the future parent-child center for music classes, parent support groups and parenting courses, and private counseling. A House in Austin became a formal nonprofit to begin fundraising for the future work in supporting families on the west side of Chicago.

Staff, Board, and Leadership


A House In Austin is managed by 4 staff members, 9 board members, and dozens of volunteers who all collaborate to help parents be their child’s best first teacher. We strive to provide safe community support for parents blessed with the opportunity to raise kind, creative, confident, and intelligent children. We love the strong community we’ve created over the last 6 years and know without a doubt that we will continue to grow stronger with our families.


Lynette Kelly-Bell

Co-Executive director

Lynette is a life-long resident of Chicago. She was raised in East Garfield Park by her parents along with fourteen of her siblings.

Being a stay at home mom, Lynette looked for different ways to have fun with her family of three. She found AHIA in 2015 and instantly fell in love with the support and opportunities that were provided to families. After participating for some years, Lynette and AHIA became one with her being added on as Assistant Executive Director and now Co-Executive Director.

Lynette has taken over the activities and opportunities that AHIA provides to the community such as: healthy cooking classes, family yoga, early childhood development programming for children, and our special events.

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Rebekah Martin, LCSW

Co-executive Director

Becky received her Master of Social Work from UIC in 2005. She worked for the YWCA Metropolitan Family Services as a trauma counselor from 2005-2013. She is trained in Trauma Focused CBT, Play Therapy, and is a Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Service provider.

Becky joined Boppin' Babies & Toddlers Music class as a mama with her youngest child, and she brings care and comfort to our group with her warm smile and genuine conversations. She leads the Parent Chat Hour for parents and teaches Parent Workshop Courses.

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Precious Jones

Program coordinator

Precious Jones is a mother to three and the owner of a state licensed home daycare, Precious Creations, in Austin. She has been the biggest supporter of AHIA and attended Musikgarten training at the Music Institute in Evanston with Erica. She was the first Boppin' parent to tour the Pine house and to see the vision and dream the possibilities with us. She has the gift of hospitality and possesses a kind, compassionate spirit. She believes in high quality early childhood education and in the power of gathering together.

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Board of Directors of A House In Austin, NFP


More information coming soon.

Bret Hilgart, Vice President

Co-Founder of AHIA
Head of Commercial Directors & Officers Liability, Bowhead Specialty Underwriters

Christine Goetz, Director

Community Volunteer

Jennifer Laird, Secretary

Senior Vice President, Neuberger Berman

Precious Jones, Director

Daycare Provider, Precious Creations, Teacher, Boppin' Music Class
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Merril Malone, Director

“Special Event Manager” Chicago Park District
Started Jan. 2021
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Pamela Valderrama, Director

Deputy General Counsel, LSC Communications
Started Jan. 2021

Kathryn Skoglund, Director

Started Jan. 2021--Bio coming soon!
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Patty Henek, Director

Community Volunteer

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Maureen Hunter, Director

Community Volunteer

We offer empowerment through:

  • Weekly parent support groups
  • Parent-child music classes
  • Home visiting program
  • Family counseling
  • Early intervention therapies
  • Wellness practices of yoga and meditation
  • Educational tools

Love like #yourfamilyismyfamily

Your donation can make a lasting positive impact on families.