A Little Help is a nonprofit trying to make little differences person by person.
Volunteering is an important part of many communities and can bring people together, no matter their background. There are many nonprofits that people can volunteer for, and one that brings all ages together is A Little Help. This is a Colorado nonprofit organization that is based around keeping older adults in their homes longer. A Little Help is completely volunteer based with only 10 staff members, and was started 15 years ago in the Wash Park area, with neighbors helping neighbors. The organization is now throughout Colorado with 2,500 volunteers and 789 members. A Little Help provides many services such as yard work, running errands, driving to appointments, and snow shoveling. There are also volunteers who call members to check in on them and provide companionship.
The program director of A Little Help, Tanya Matthias, joined the staff in 2015 and started working part time while her kids were still in grade school. She fell in love with the mission of A Little Help and soon became a full time staff member and a committed volunteer. Matthias explained that throughout the pandemic, the volunteer numbers doubled. Matthias commented, “Covid made our society as a whole more aware of older adults and the needs that they have.” Since the members of A Little Help are in the population that is most highly affected by the coronavirus, the volunteers became a necessity in keeping them safe. A main focus of the volunteers was providing grocery runs and prescription pick up to keep them out of high risk situations and environments. “Another program A Little Help put in place was matching volunteers with members to call and check in on them knowing they are very isolated,” Matthias stated.
The relationships that are built between the members and the volunteers is what makes A Little Help so unique. One of the members, Betty Orkin, an 89 year old widow, joined in 2018. Orkin described her experiences with one of the volunteers who has been consistently helping her, Laura Thompson, a mother of two. Orkin explains that Thompson has “ been like family, I don’t have any family here so she would invite me to Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners, so I sort of became part of their family.” Orkin and Thompson have created a life long friendship because of A Little Help. Orkin relies on the organization for not only social interaction but to help her do things around the house and yard that are difficult to do now. Orkin has a volunteer who shovels her driveway and sidewalk for her during the winter months and takes advantage of A Little Help’s Service Saturday event that takes place twice a year.
Service Saturday is a great opportunity for intergenerational volunteering. This event takes place in the spring and fall and brings hundreds of volunteers of all ages together to help with yard work of the A Little Help members. It is a great opportunity for high school students to get community service hours in and do something great for the community. When asked about Service Saturday and the volunteers who help her, Orkin stated that she likes to “go out there and talk to them, they are always very friendly.” Orkin explained when high school students help she feels like “little grandkids” are out there helping her.
The next A Little Help Service Saturday is November 6th and they are still looking for volunteers. This would be a great chance for school groups, teams, and/or clubs to come together and help the older adults in our community. Each group can have up to 10 individuals of any age. Go online at www.alittlehelp.org/servicesaturdays to join the next Service Saturday in Denver. Spartans will not be disappointed in their volunteer experience, and they may even be treated to donuts on Saturday morning!