The High Desert Helpers originally started in the early 1970s as a social service club founded by five local working men, called the Filthy Five. Despite the name, they were good people who wanted to use their trades and professions to help the community. The symbol of the Filthy Five was an open hand with five fingers that were dirty from hard work, and a pledge written upon each finger: to work, to help, to love, to give, to live.
The group provided help to Black Canyon City residents, particularly the elderly and needy, as well as people passing through town. In 1973 the Filthy Five became managers of park land given to the county by the Bureau of Land Management. The purpose of the park was to operate exclusively for scientific, educational, and charitable purposes. The Filthy Five held bake sales, garage sales, raffles and other fund raising projects to develop the park for the community, and it soon became the town’s major recreational area. The Filthy Five group was incorporated as a non-profit charitable organization in 1975, and in 2000 the name was changed to High Desert Helpers, Inc. They were awarded a grant from the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund, in addition to assistance from the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, which enabled them to make many park improvements.
The same traditions upon which the club was first established decades ago carry on to this day. The High Desert Helpers sponsor annual community events including an Easter Egg Hunt and Breakfast with Santa. They host a Thanksgiving turkey dinner every year that is free for those who can’t afford to make a donation. Their clubhouse is used for special projects such as clothing drives, filling Easter baskets, Christmas food boxes, and wrapping Angel Tree gifts. The High Desert Helpers hold additional events and fundraisers throughout the year, and they also contribute to other organizations, which is another way in which the High Desert Helpers benefit the community. In addition, members provide aid to stranded travelers and disaster victims, and participate in various volunteer projects such as Adopt-a-Soldier, while continuing to maintain and improve the park.
High Desert Helpers’ dedicated members and dependable volunteers – men and women from all walks of life – have been instrumental in making much of what has been achieved over the years happen. From cutting weeds and moving rocks, to swinging hammers and wielding paintbrushes, to grant writing and event planning, the types of needs that have been filled are as diverse as the people who live in the community. And that’s what the High Desert Helpers are all about, bringing a cross-section of citizens together to work, to help, to love, to give, to live – thereby making the community as a whole a better place.
“I have fond memories of many of these folks…they were the nicest people and always treated us with grace and kindness.” ~Pastor Huck Kusner