Paonia woman develops texting hotline for college students

By Pat Sunderland


A teacher and counselor for 25-plus years, Merrily Talbott often found herself in the position of listening and empowering teenagers and young adults.

"When texting first came on the scene, I found myself doing it over text," she explains. "Former students would contact me when they were struggling."

Then one day she was reading an advice column. "The thought occurred to me ... if you write a columnist, how long are you waiting before they print your letter? These days, there should be somebody who can be available right away to help you figure something out."

Texting seemed the perfect solution. Talbott developed Savvy, a hotline for college students that offers confidential, anonymous and immediate help through texting or on the phone with a certified Savvy adviser.

According to the Savvy website, "Our goal is to normalize the process of asking for help with life's everyday challenges, empowering college students with practical advice and problem solving tools as they grow into adulthood."

Talbott tapped into the talent in the Paonia community to put together a team that includes student outreach coordinator Azure Eller and technology director Christy Eller.

They are looking to partner with colleges and universities across the country to enhance student support. Students can also sign up for the service on their own.

Talbott launched the Savvy website last year, but because she was also teaching she couldn't devote all her time to her venture. Now she's no longer teaching and she's able to put all her energy into the job she created for herself.

"I'm excited about ICELab because I have a lot to learn. I'm excited to gain clarity about the future direction of my company."