The mission of The Helper Project is simple: To foster revitalization and beautification, encourage economic development, and promote cultural connections for the city and citizens of Helper, Utah.
The Helper Project was founded in August 2016 by Anne Morgan-Jespersen, a Utah native. As a teenager, Anne traveled throughout Utah and Wyoming with her father staking out oil and gas claims. This experience gave her a strong connection to and love for Utah’s landscape and the unique history of its rural cities and towns.
After working as an architect for over 13 years, Anne decided to devote her professional life to painting. For 20 years, she painted part-time in Helper. During that period, she gained an enormous appreciation for the extraordinary history, beauty, and tenacity of the people living in Helper.
In 2015, Anne and her husband Roy decided to make Helper their permanent home. They purchased an old grocery market on Helper’s Main Street and spent a year renovating it into a living space and art gallery.
It didn’t take them long to discover that, like many rural railroad and mining towns in America, Helper had felt the effects of the decline in the production of coal, oil, and gas. They brainstormed how to best use their skills for the benefit of the community, and in August 2016, they formed The Helper Project.
Today, The Helper Project‘s governing board of community leaders, artists, and business owners prides itself on granting funds for projects in the city of Helper that fall within the realm of the mission statement. Since 2016, 48 projects, special events, and exhibitions have been completed, and tens of thousands of dollars have been invested back into the community.
Built at the turn of the century, these charming bungalows housed the miners and railroad workers of the time. With a grant from The Helper Project, these bungalows were painted, the retaining wall and steps redone, and the yards cleaned up. The character of these original houses has been maintained and elevated the experience of entering Main Street.
Many of the projects funded by The Helper Project are of a smaller scale. The clean-up and landscaping of the North entrance into town was just one of the many beautification projects completed.
Each year, The Helper Project hosts a fine art exhibition that showcases the work of artists from Helper and beyond. This exhibition serves as the largest fundraiser of the year for the organization and the money raised helps us fund other cultural events, like bringing the Utah Youth Symphony to Helper to perform at no cost to the community.