Program offers 'umbrella' for seniors

According to Ron Byrne, co-founder of Umbrella of the Capital District, the premise of the program is seniors helping seniors.

"The seniors helping seniors concept is really the bedrock idea here. What we have is young retirees helping other retirees to restore their homes," said Byrne. "When people move into retiring, sometimes they're looking to sort of give back, be charitable and to help people in their community. It gives them an outlook."

He also said that the reason the seniors work well with other seniors is that their lives mirror each others.

"The fact that [the handymen] are retired is a wonderful thing. They get it, what it's like to live on a fixed income, that marriage of seniors helping seniors is the secret ingredient."

The handymen themselves do get paid $12 per hour, however, Byrne said, most do not do it for the money.

Morgan Edward, 71, one of the repairmen currently working with Umbrella of the Capital District, from Loudonville, said he does not do it for the money, but because he feels that he is doing something good for other people.

"You feel like you're doing something really good," said Edward, "You go into some of these houses and you see the man is really frail, but the wife is on the verge of Alzheimer's so you see he's got his hands full with her, and he can't handle the handy things."

As for the money, Edward said, "I keep a notebook of everybody I worked with. It has their name, date, place and how much I got paid. I kind of figure I'm breaking even, but I also figure I'm giving back."

Neary described the seniors of Colonie as the "eyes and ears" of the community.

"There is a real opportunity in the program for the handyman to inform or advise or educate the wealth of other services that are out there," said Neary.

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