Helen Capps

She’s only 17, but Helen Capps has dedicated much of her life to helping others.

Capps has been gathering food and hygiene supplies and other items for the homeless since 2010 and donates them to New Life Evangelistic Center in St. Louis and the Loving Hearts Ministries in Washington. Capps often calls on area businesses to donate, who she said are almost always willing to help her cause.

“I collect items from September to December and distribute them at the beginning of each year,” she said. “I just open up the phone book and start calling a bunch of people.”

Capps also has volunteered at Exceptional Equestrians, the Washington Library, Mercy Hospital in Washington and has helped out at the local Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) meetings. All of this, in addition to her part-time job at The Homestead at Hickory View.

“I’m a bit of a workaholic,” she said. “But I like people.”

At Homestead, Capps does a variety of work. She can be found doing most anything from answering calls at the front desk, to serving residents in the dining room or leading them in various games and activities. No matter what she is doing, however, she gives it her all, said Barb Hellmann, Homestead director of community relations.

“The residents really love her,” Hellmann said “She has a big heart, is always eager to help and she’s always smiling. We love everything about her.”

Capps attributes her dedication to hard work and helping others to her parents, Peggy and Tim Capps, who raised her with the idea to excel at every task, no matter how menial it may seem.

“My parents taught my whole family since we were little that everything you do, you need to do as if you were working for the Lord,” she said. “In the long run, that’s who you are working for. It helps because even if I have a bad day, I know I’m working for God and he has it under control.”

Capps excels at academics as well. She was homeschooled and graduated last year at 16. She said she is taking a break from school this year, but is working toward getting accepted at the College of the Ozarks in the fall. She wants to be a pediatric nurse practitioner.

“It’s really cool because she has to earn that right,” Hellmann said.

“They only accept hard workers,” Capps said. “You work for the college instead of paying tuition so when you graduate you are debt-free.”

Capps is always looking for ways to put smiles on the faces of others, as well, Hellmann said.

“At Christmas she made dozens of cookies and brought them in,” she said. “She also made chocolate-covered strawberries and raspberries and brought roses for the residents for Valentine’s Day and danced with the residents at the senior citizens prom.”

Hellmann said Capps also was the first person to earn the Gatekeeper Award, an honor bestowed on employees who demonstrate the set core values expected of Homestead employees. She also won employee of the year for 2012.

“She brings flowers for someone else that she thought had won, but she won!” Hellmann said. “This is her style.”