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Olney Help
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Olney Help

About Us

Olney HELP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides short term emergency food and financial assistance to individuals and families in the greater Olney area as well as Sandy Spring, Ashton, Brinklow and Brookeville MD. We have a 40 year history in the local community, and have long been counted on to provide short-term emergency food and financial assistance or referrals to anyone who requests it. Our two main programs to assist area residents are the Emergency Financial Assistance Program and the Emergency Food Program Mission Statement.

Olney HELP’s mission is to

  • Provide emergency food assistance to residents by delivering a three-day supply of fresh and five-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Provide emergency financial assistance to residents who face the threat of eviction, utility cutoff or who cannot pay for essential medical prescriptions
  • Provide referral services to other agencies and organizations if additional assistance is required.

Our History

Olney HELP was founded in 1969. It was originally known as Olney Fish and was started by a group of local Quakers and other area church members who donated funds and recruited volunteers. We continue to be an all volunteer agency and have grown to more than 40 volunteers as increasing needs in the greater Olney area have developed. We respond to requests from all individuals and families in our area who seek assistance. When Olney HELP cannot fill a request, we provide referrals for our clients to other agencies or organizations that might be able to help them.

Olney HELP is a Regional Lead Agency of the Emergency Assistance Coalition of Interfaith Works of Montgomery County, MD. The Coalition divides Montgomery County by zip code and agencies within the Coalition provide assistance to residents of its designated zip codes. Olney HELP is the designated provider of emergency assistance to residents in zip codes: 20832, 20833, 20860, 20861, and 20862, which includes the greater Olney area, Sandy Spring, Ashton, Brinklow, and Brookeville, MD.


As an all volunteer organization, there are no salaries, no overhead and only minimal office and administrative expenses. The great majority of funding we receive goes directly to assist our clients with food or financial assistance.

The Emergency Food Program exists in large part as a result of the generous support from the community. Non-perishable food items are chiefly supplied by local churches, schools, scouts and civic organizations that conduct annual food drives. A local organization allows Olney HELP use warehouse space on its property where we are able to store and pack our non-perishable food.

Traditionally, Olney HELP raises funds for our Emergency Financial Assistance Program from local individuals, businesses, churches and civic associations. We also participate in the county wide "Thanksgiving in February" drive with local restaurants where a portion of the proceeds go to nonprofit organizations such as ours. Additionally, we have received generous grants from the TJX Foundation, Carl M. Freeman Foundation, Meyer Foundation, and several Foundations who choose to remain anonymous. We continue to seek grant support as our client base grows.

The Growing Need

While Montgomery County, Maryland is an affluent area, we have a growing population that needs food aid and financial assistance to survive. Our clients call with varied reasons for seeking aid. Many are living on fixed incomes or find their income isn’t keeping pace with rising basic expenses. Others have experienced prolonged illness or injury which leaves them temporarily unable to work. Today’s tough economic climate is forcing many people to request help for the first time.

Olney HELP has seen a significant growth in requests for assistance over the past several years. We expect this need to continue to increase with the current economic conditions and as we improve and expand our outreach.

Olney HELP Board of Directors

Marilyn Simonds

Larry Pendleton

Cate McDonald

Client Financial Counselor/Assistant Director
Lee Arthur

Client Financial Consultant
Suzanne Browning

Food Chairperson
Ruth Filbert

Grant Chairperson
Pat Westlein

Assistant Warehouse Supervisor
Kathryn Murdock