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

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.

Rachel Rettberg

Executive Director

Originally from the United Kingdom,  Rachel makes her home in Oak Park with her husband Kyle, and their three sons. Rachel holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Essex in Philosophy and Government and a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Concordia University Chicago. Serving on the Board of Directors for A House in Austin from 2016-2018,  Rachel’s work experience includes leadership roles in both children’s museums and early childhood centers. In Spring 2018, she completed the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation's Leadership Lab, where she focused on racial equity. Rachel is passionate about investing in the early years, community support for families, and creating a more equitable world.

rachel.rettberg@ahouseinaustin.org

Lynette Kelly-Bell

Assistant Executive Director

Lynette was raised in East Garfield and is a current resident there with her husband of five years and their three children. After being homeschooled for high school, she attended Harold Washington College and received her associate degree. She is passionate about community and making a difference. She believes in breaking old cycles and planting new seeds of change. In her spare time, she enjoys baking pastry and bread.

lynette.kellybell@ahouseinaustin.org

Rebekah Martin, LCSW

Director of Family Services

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.

becky.martin@ahouseinaustin.org​

Kelly Mitchell

PROGRAM COORDINATOR

For the past semester, Kelly has volunteered with us every Thursday. She plays, colors, and cuddles babies and toddlers as a childcare volunteer during Parent Café + The Parent Chat Hour. She has a heart for service and has volunteered to be AHIA's Outreach Coordinator. Kelly has a bachelor's degree in history from Valparaiso University and a masters in Secondary Education from Roosevelt University. She taught for four years at Perspectives High School of Technology in Auburn Gresham. After having her daughter, she has spent the past few years working with nonprofits within the Oak Park/Austin community.

lynette.kellybell@ahouseinaustin.org

Precious Jones

Musikgarten instructor

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.

lynette.kellybell@ahouseinaustin.org

Lykishia Carter

Classroom Assistant

Lykishia met with Erica before the first music class took place, and she helped create the name, Boppin' Babies & Toddlers Music Class. She volunteered her time for a year and then officially became our classroom assistant for all music classes. Her warm smile and fantastic organizing skills help ensure each class runs smoothly. Lykishia is a mother of two and lives in the Austin neighborhood.

lykishia.carterl@ahouseinaustin.org

Board of directors A House In Austin, NFP

Maureen Hunter, President

Community Volunteer

Christa Gillespie, Secretary

Intermediate Classroom Teacher

Bret Hilgart, Treasurer

Senior Vice President, Markel Corporation

Patty Henek, Director

Coordinator, Holiday Food & Gift Basket
River Forest Village Trustee

Precious Jones, Director

Daycare Provider, Precious Creations, Teacher, Boppin' Music Class

John Leroux, Director

Founder/Managing Director, Rockskip

Kelly Mitchell, Director

Community Volunteer, Barefoot Books Ambassador

Erica Hilgart, Director

Founder, A House in Austin

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.