Greg Schilling started Help the Needy in 1982 to provide limited financial assistance to people in Teller County. He operated it out of his house, and it eventually moved to a church basement and, later, to a small suite above a movie theater. In 2007, People’s Bank bought a piece of property where a car dealership once stood, and donated the building to the nonprofit.
Last year, Help the Needy served about 550 families, a number that has held steady each year since the economy unraveled in 2008. The organization’s helping hand runs the gamut. It’s chipped in to help with car repairs so a client can get to work. It’s negotiated with landlords and utility companies on a client’s behalf. It’s helped cover rent and utility bills, worked with clients to figure out where they can cut spending and, through its firewood program, delivered cords of wood — chopped and delivered by volunteers — to those who rely on a woodburning stove to keep warm.
“It’s a great program,” said a woman whose disabled son gets firewood and help with his utility bill from Help the Needy. The organization keeps client names confidential. “It helps make a difference. They’re nice, friendly and helpful, and they don’t look down on you at all.”
Help the Needy is funded by donations and grants, and operates on the energy of 150 volunteers, Scarlata included. In spite of titles and jobs, no one is paid.
“And that’s the way we want to keep it,” Scarlata says.