In October 2003, a prayer request for people who were suffering economically from the drought in southeastern Colorado and who were about to have their utilities turned off was presented by Sharon Barber at a community prayer time. From that request grew the realization that God wanted us to address these emergency issues.
Several people from that community prayer time worked to form Helping Hands: Peter Wybenga, a local pastor; Barbara Martin, administrator of Bent County Healthcare Center, Mark and Kim MacDonnell; and Sharon Barber, who was selected to be the director. A grant from the city of Las Animas started the program in January 2004. Upon learning of Helping Hands, Bent County Social Services turned over the emergency portion of their Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) to Helping Hands in March 2004.
The receipt of CSBG funding expanded our services from providing utility assistance to other emergencies such as rent, prescriptions, gasoline, food and clothing. The number of families coming to Helping Hands for emergency assistance has been increasing an additional 40-50% per year as families continue to experience the drought, loss of employers and jobs, and rising energy and healthcare costs in southeastern Colorado. Since Las Animas Helping Hands began in 2004, we have assisted the elderly, handicapped, single parents, families on TANF, parolees and other families in need.