What We Do

Helpers Community is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to assisting individuals with developmental disabilities and partnering with the organizations that serve them. 

Our Mission

Helpers Community is dedicated to supporting individuals with developmental disabilities.

 

Our History

 

As with any long journey, the long road we’ve traveled has had some blind curves and a few bumps, but we’ve managed to stay the course and remain true to our mission.

Founded in 1953 by Sister Miriam Auxilium O’Gare, to serve adults with Down Syndrome, our organization incorporated in 1957 and received its 501(c)(3) status in 1958. Helpers Community began raising funds to purchase and operate some of the first group homes for adults with developmental disabilities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The first Helpers’ home was opened in 1963, followed by two others in 1966 and 1973. The three properties provided residential living opportunities in beautiful homes for 12 women and 6 men. Helpers’ homes were in operation until 2002, when the last one closed.  After decades of good fortune with dedicated staff members, who’d lived in the homes and devotedly cared for the residents, staff retired or passed away. The staffing challenges were exacerbated by the IT boom in San Francisco in the mid 1990’s to the early 2000’s. The Bay Area was one of the nation’s leading job creating regions which made it next to impossible to find, stable, qualified 24/7 residential staff.

In addition to providing residential care, Helpers operated an Activity Center from 1966 until 2002 where the residents developed their craft and sewing skills to create beautiful handmade items. In 1966, Ghirardelli Square invited Helpers to host a weekend bazaar to sell the handmade creations made at Helpers Activity Center, as well as donated items from Helpers’ supporters.  Helpers hosted pop-up bazaars at Ghirardelli Square until 1974 when Ghirardelli Square offered the in-kind donation of a permanent storefront to Helpers, known as Helpers Bazaar. 

In 2019, Helpers, in partnership with Pomeroy Recreation & Rehabilitation Center, re-opened a residence on Fulton Street, serving six adults with special needs. Another Helper’s residence in this partnership, also on Fulton Street, opened a few months later. 

After more than 40 years of generosity, Ghirardelli needed their retail space back. Helpers store, reborn as Helpers Artisans Boutique, moved from the Ghirardelli location to 1947 Union Street, in a lively retail area of Cow Hollow. Our grand opening occurred in April 2019.

Helpers Today

What We’ve Achieved

  • 2016 Established Helpers Foundation
  • 2017 Allocated $1 Million in grants to 4 Bay Area nonprofits.
  • 2017 Explored ways to collaborate more effectively with organizations serving individuals with special needs. 
  • 2017 Helpers Bazaar retail store, through a partnership with the Arc and the Janet Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center, began providing special needs individuals mentoring, training and critical learning skills to prepare them for full- time employment in the community.
  • 2018 Made the commitment to invest in upgrading two former residences for people with special needs.
  • 2018 Deepened Helper’s relationship with Pomeroy Center
  • 2018 Allocated $260,000 in grants to 6 special needs programs
  • 2018 When faced with the loss of the Ghirardelli retail space, the board voted to pursue other options to keep this important training program