Last month, we interviewed Sam Gerstenzang, the co-founder of Umbrella, a service aimed at providing affordable, friendly help with everyday tasks to Brooklyn seniors. Gerstenzang mentioned that they recently expanded from Brooklyn to Nassau County.
In prior posts, we’ve shared some of the stories behind Umbrella’s Brooklyn members and “Handy Neighbors.” This seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at how Umbrella is helping seniors in Nassau County stay independent.
To do that, we spoke with Sandy Palma, a retired secretary for Nassau County Department of Social Services, who’s been using Umbrella for several months.
Why did you choose to join Umbrella?
A year and a half ago, I fell and I broke my right wrist in two places. I also have a very bad back, so I can’t carry heavy things. By using Umbrella, even if I do the work with them, it makes the load lighter.
And how did you find them?
I think I got something in the mail. I called and one of the lovely ladies explained it to me. She left me some literature and…I knew I needed help. My spouse passed away. I have children but they have their own lives and I don’t want to be dependent on them. So this is a way of me keeping my independence.
What sorts of things have Handy Neighbors done for you?
I had someone come fix my fence for $16. I mean, where can you get your fence fixed for $16?! The guy was terrific. He came, he looked at the problem, he knew what to do right away, he didn’t ask me for any supplies, even did some cement work for me. And he did all of that within an hour. That was fantastic.
I’m having someone come on Thursday to help me carry things out of my shed for the summer. To help wash down the summer furniture. This is a HUGE help to me.
I didn’t have any reason to use them over the winter — they did say that they shovel, but every time it snowed, I had a wonderful neighbor who stepped in to help me. But it is good to know that Umbrella could help with snow if I ever need it. I’m having someone come to help me clean out my basement. So, I mean, these are big things.
Would you recommend Umbrella to other people?
Oh, very much so! I’ve given several of my neighbors the literature. Oh, I think it’s a wonderful program especially for those who are living alone. The office staff has been terrific – very cooperative and polite. I brought a friend who’s in her 80s over to meet them. I find it’s a terrific service right now.
You know, you reach a point in your life when you need a hand.
Learn more about Umbrella at AskUmbrella.com or call (718) 260-6719.