Many thanks to Self Help

'When I found myself in a situation I never thought I'd be in.'

The help I got from Self Help really set me on the right track. It was like a turning point. … It really makes a difference, you know. Lots of people like me who are now doing good are people who were once helped by Self Help.

Mr. Rogers said to look for the helpers, and you guys are really the helpers. I don’t know where we would be right now without you and we won’t ever forget this.

I really appreciate your efforts. Not just the money part, but also the human being part.

The equipment I was given for my small business is a prayer answered and provides a huge step in fulfilling my goals.

I have never experienced the need for help at any time. I never could have anticipated this turn in my journey. I certainly did not have the skills to navigate the twists and turns. Thank you for providing help and hope. Thank you for believing in me during my darkest moments. Without Self Help I could not have moved into feeling hopeful for my future.

Thank you for the help with my rent during December while I was hospitalized. I appreciate it very much, and I am thankful that there are people like you to help people like me, when they really need it.

Thank you so much for your kind assistance. I was overwhelmed by your generosity, efficiency, and compassion. Each step that you have helped me take is bringing me closer to repairing my life..I greatly appreciate you efforts in my behalf at this challenging time.

Self Help is a true blessing to many. Thank you so much for believing in me!

I don’t know if you remember me, but I came to your office two years ago for help with my propane bill. Your encouragement opened so many doors for me. I want to thank you for your belief in me …now I have a job doing exactly what I dreamed of…family preservation!. I am really looking forward to working with families and helping them stay together.

I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your assistance in starting my contracting business. With the seed money grant I was able to purchase tools. Because of your helping hand I have been able to bid and receive five jobs, including two complete remodels. I hope I can soon become a contributor to Self Help to allow others to pursue their dreams. Thank you for your help and belief in me.

Recently, a Los Alamos co-worker and her family lost their Rio Arriba home and all their possessions in a freak fire. They had nothing left except their vehicles. Luckily no one was hurt, however, neither the house nor the contents were covered and all was destroyed. I looked for ways to help and decided to organize a volunteer group whose goal was to do what we could with manual labor to get this family back in their home. I instantly found many like minded people amongst my co-workers at the lab who, themselves residents of many small communities across Northern New Mexico, were eager to do more than give money to help.
Having previously experienced devastation and loss from hurricanes on the Texas Gulf Coast, I fully appreciated the shock this family was living with day to day and knew that just a little initiative on our part would go a long way towards helping them take charge of their own recovery. I also felt that these folk were part of my community and that we need to be able to depend on each other when disaster strikes. First, I needed to find out what services were available to help, because I like most people in such a situation did not really know where to start. Rather than go to United Way, a co-worker directed me to Self-Help which was based right here in Los Alamos.

Ellen Morris-Bond at Self-Help immediately took on this unfortunate family as a client. She provided assistance in the form of access to clothing and even some cash cards to various stores. Ellen put the word out to local churches for household donations and was even able to work with ReMax to provide a truck to help with pickup and delivery of donated items. One of the biggest surprises were Brand New mattresses and frames which Ellen purchased and picked up from Santa Fe herself. Receiving these new beds was a big morale booster for this proud family which was unaccustomed to living with hand-me-downs. This was a very joyous occasion and I saw a seed of hope firmly planted that would finally result in what I can only describe as a Self-Help miracle.

I went to the burned house and it was awful. Where to begin? Ellen said, “no problem, I am going to get you some dumpsters.” Great, I thought, all we need to do is fill up the dumpsters. It was something that the volunteers could sink their shovels and hands into. I scheduled a weekend for the volunteers to start work. The dumpsters soon arrived and friends and family of the clients asked what was going on and discovered that a group of coworkers from Los Alamos was coming to help. When we arrived, on that first weekend, we were met by, not only my co-worker and her family, but a goodly number of these others and soon we were all inter-mingled helping each other towards common purpose. The filled dumpster would be removed and an empty one would take its place, ready for the following weekend. The family, friends and coworkers brought and shared food and drink. A local church down the street saw this activity and quickly provided a Port-a-Potty for as long as it would take.

I discovered later that I was actually a witness to and part of the mission of Self-Help. This mission extended beyond applying a “band-aid” to help in hard times. The mission was to help guide these clients to a point where they could effect their own recovery. The network of support Ellen had built up over the years was absolutely essential in the rapid recovery. Ellen's experience and advice helped the volunteers to direct their resources efficiently. Her calm confidence and advice helped inspire her clients to reclaim their own strength which had been temporarily shattered by this tragedy.

Eventually, a relative, with a little bulldozer, came and, within six weekends, this site was cleaned and ready for a new home. Within another six weeks, the clients, having pooled their resources to make a down payment, found themselves in a new (fully insured) home on the site of the old one.

This was probably as close as I may ever get to an old fashioned community “barn raising” but what an experience it was. I am sure that word of this collaborative effort spread throughout the local Rio Arriba community.

In addition to helping to get this family resettled, I believe that the way this was done (Self-Help, volunteers, donations) significantly strengthened the bonds which link Rio Arriba, Santa Fe, Los Alamos and surrounding counties into a very real community. A stronger community benefits everyone by providing a more friendly and secure environment which includes being able to depend on and trust each other in times of need.

Invest in your community and enable Self-Help to help those who need it. Please give and give generously. By doing so, you not only help others in your community but you help yourselves by building a stronger community for us all to live in.