Colleen Meyer, executive director of the Idyllwild HELP Center.Photo by J.P. Crumrine
Colleen Meyer, executive director of the Idyllwild HELP Center. Photo by J.P. Crumrine

On her second day as the new executive director of the Idyllwild HELP Center, Colleen Meyer was already actively soliciting assistance for the community’s needy. Saturday morning, she spoke to the Pine Cove Property Owner’s Association about several programs such as the food pantry.

Meyer is familiar to many who visit or use the HELP Center. She has been the HELP Center’s client services administrator. Now she embarks on a new journey as its executive director, following the retirement of Karen Patterson.

“After eight years, this is a major challenge,” she said. “I have so much passion and it’s always been a love of mine. It’s a new responsibility and opportunity to help people in the community where I went to school.”

“We’re so lucky to have her,” said Nanci Killingsworth, HELP Center board president. “She’s an excellent communicator, [has] wonderful organizational skills, and [is] familiar with the clients and their needs.”

Meyer’s family moved to Idyllwild in 1987, when she was in fifth grade, and she has lived here most of her life.

“I never thought I’d be in a position to be able to do so much for the community,” she said proudly while slightly apprehensive about her new path.

Skye Zambrana has taken over Meyer’s role as the client services administrator and the new Thrift Store manager is Julia Ledesma.

“We have a chance to make a difference in people’s lives,” Meyer said. “It’s beautiful and exciting. Everybody has so much passion.”

Besides the existing programs, such as fuel and food assistance, Meyer and the board are planning a new venture to help clients find work and move forward. The focus will be on job skills.

This strategy will offer clients who want or need skills how to write résumés, practice job interviewing and prepare personal budgets.

“We want to get people into the work force,” she said. “Working with the board and the community, we’ll start putting this program in place.” To implement these actions, Meyer hopes also to solicit community help to reach and aid the HELP Center’s clientele.

“Her leadership skills will risk a venture into something new that furthers our mission,” Killingsworth said.

Besides the food pantry, the Children’s Fund is another program that relies exclusively on community donations and participation. The Children’s Fund has limited resources and is available to help children with unique and essential needs. This could include a Target gift card for clothing, registration for Town Hall sports or an Idyllwild School trip.

Meyer’s first few days have been exciting and surprising. She has been very appreciative of all the congratulations and offers of help since her promotion was announced.

“So many people from the community have personally reached out to me. I feel overwhelmed,” she said.