“We got there and saw the tremendous suffering and I thought: I have to do something. I don’t know what, but I have to do something.”
Talk to anyone who has volunteered with HELPS and you will hear an incredible story.
The story of a man who lost his sight and his ability to work, able to see again after surgery that he thought he could never afford. A woman who has spent her days cooking on an open fire inside a smoking house, with an ONIL stove and the ability to keep her children safe and healthy. Farmers who can finally harvest enough crops to start going out of poverty. Children whose parents only finished second grade receiving a first-class education that takes them to the best universities in the country and then to better jobs.
Those and thousands more are the stories of HELPS, and they all began at one time in 1981. At the height of the 36-year internal conflict in Guatemala, the Guatemalan government invited private groups from the United States to tour their country in hopes of bringing help to the areas affected by poverty. Steve Miller, a Dallas-based investment banker and CEO of Dillon Gage, accepted the invitation.
When Steve shared his travel plans with his family, his father said, “I only know that if you go on this trip and see what you are going to see, your life will never be the same. You better be ready for that.” He was right. Steve’s life changed forever.
Then, working with missionary Paul Townsend, Steve began bringing food, clothing, and blankets to the communities he had visited. They began to build simple houses for war widows, some of whom had resorted to living in hollow spaces that dug in the hillsides. Those efforts eventually led to the creation of HELPS, which was registered as a non-profit organization in 1984.
Today, HELPS is a community of thousands of faithful volunteers and donors that have changed millions of lives. Steve continues as our president, although he has never received a salary. “We say:” The life you change can be yours, “and that’s not just a saying. It’s my own experience and the experience of many of our volunteers,” says Steve.