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Program offers 'umbrella' for seniors

Edward said, in his almost two years of experience with Umbrella of the Capital District, he never really has had seniors reach out for a companion while he was performing repairs, but that he has spent more time at certain jobs than he had expected because he got caught up in conversation. He also said he has regular jobs that he goes to, including lawn clean-up.

"This time of year, the big jobs are lawn clean-up. I've done about five this week," said Edward, "Some of the inside type jobs we see closer to fall or winter. I put a handle on the dishwasher, I've done kitchen cabinets, putting new hardware on them. One lady had a washing machine that was overflowing and she couldn't figure out why."

He continued, "There's a lot of gutter work in the fall, I bring a ladder a lot of times for that. I put in stair rails for people that have arthritis and are having a hard time walking the stairs without support."

Edward said most of the time, the seniors who call Umbrella are actually in need of the services. But other times, people use the service when they do not need it, said Edward.

"What I don't like is when I see very wealthy people taking advantage of Umbrella as a cheap way out. I did one woman's house, raking something like 40 bags of leaves and had to drag them up the hill and they had a huge lot. They could have afforded a lawn service. I made about $96. I recommended to Umbrella not to service them," said Edward, "Some people will try to get their cheapest way out of everything. You don't feel like you're doing much good at a place like this."

But overall, Edward said he feels that his work has benefitted people throughout the Capital District, and he is confident that it will continue to do so for Colonie.

When Edward, a senior himself, is not repairing windows, raking lawns or installing new light bulbs, he tutors Asian students in English and assists at his church's local food pantry.

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