Clients pay a yearly sliding-scale membership fee ranging from $145 to $315. When they need work done, they call Umbrella, which arranges a service call. The client pays the handyperson directly – $12 per hour.
Gosier, 75, signed up as a handyperson five years ago. He had been a food services manager for 30 years and had dabbled with home repair as a side business. In his mid-60s, Gosier had taken a maintenance job at a department store chain and retired at 70. He had heard about Umbrella at the local library and joined its roster a few months after retiring.
Gosier says he enjoys the work and being able to help people. He knows he could make more if he went into business for himself, but he appreciates Umbrella’s flexibility. Umbrella’s model is spreading, expanding encore opportunities. Recently, the organization helped a senior services provider in nearby Colonie, New York, create its own program.
Rick Iannello, executive director of the Albany Guardian Society, a nonprofit that seeks to improve seniors’ quality of life, says he respects Umbrella’s founders for creating a necessary, innovative, sustainable service. The benefits to the clients, he says, are obvious. The benefits to the workers may be more subtle, but are just as meaningful.
“The fact that they are paid for their work is highly important,” Iannello says. “It recognizes that you as an individual have a life of skill and effort. And now we’re asking you to put that to work for older people.”