HARPSWELL — Many people associate spring with cleaning, but Harpswell Aging at Home is rolling out a new program this fall to help locals tidy up their houses.
The Home Helpers Program is a brand-new facet of Harpswell Aging at Home, the community organization that has several programs to assist seniors with their daily lives.
Home Helpers will provide housecleaning services such as vacuuming, trash disposal and recycling, dusting, kitchen and bathroom cleaning, and laundry. Those involved in the group hope to launch it by mid-October.
Jerry Klepner, chairman of the program, said the idea came about after he became involved in HAH’s Home Repairs and Resources Team, which gives in-home fixes to homeowners who qualify.
Klepner said although what the home repair team does is “terrific and absolutely necessary,” he and co-chairman Dick Regan noticed another need while working with the group: cleaning.
“What we both saw in a number of instances is, once the home repair work was completed, that people were unable to maintain a clean, healthy environment,” Klepner said.
In addition to in-home help, HAH also offers Lunch With Friends, a weekly free meal program, a volunteer transportation program, and even a “Seniors Connecting” initiative which pairs seniors who want to chat on the phone weekly.
Those who are interested in receiving help need to contact the Town Office, which will then gather information to determine if they qualify.
To get help from the Home Repairs and Resources Team, for instance, homeowners must be over the age of 60 and fall under 80 percent of the Cumberland County area median income. For a household of one, a qualifying income is $40,600 or less annually.
Klepner said the Town Office will then contact the group members, who will “have a conversation” in terms of what kind of assistance the person is looking for.
The person receiving help will also be assigned a project leader, who will come over to the homeowner’s house before the helpers arrive to discuss what work will be done.
The Home Helpers Program was initially called the “Chores Program” but Klepner said the name was changed due to chores having a negative connotation.
“That was something I did as a kid that I didn’t want to do and obviously since we’re doing this it’s something that we do feel is important and that we wanna do,” he said.
Klepner also said the group is beginning with inside household work, but as time goes on plans to progress to helping homeowners outside, too.
“So that if people have a lawn they just can’t maintain and they would like for us to come and assist in cutting the lawn then we would be able to help in that regard,” he said.
How often the group comes to work on a particular home will depend on the homeowner’s individual circumstances, he added.
In a small home for instance, where a person can do some of their own housework, having the group come on a quarterly basis might make sense. For others, having the helpers come in every two weeks might be a better fit.
Those interested in volunteering can contact HAH directly.
Klepner is also hoping the demand for services increases in time, as it did with the Home Repair and Resources Team.
In addition to Klepner, Regan, and Marjorie Parker, who also co-chairs the group, one additional person has signed on to volunteer.
Klepner said he is hopeful to have 15 or 16 people volunteer with the initiative as time goes on, and would ask that each volunteer commit two days a month to the effort.
Parker said her sister provided the inspiration for her to get involved with the helpers. Parker’s sister, who lives out-of-state, was becoming “overwhelmed” with her housework, and Parker said she wished there was someone nearby who could help.
So (when) they were considering a program like this within HAH, I jumped in and said I would be interested in being a volunteer,” she said.
Regan, a former teacher, said his career helped him to “develop an attitude that it’s better to help people than to criticize them.”
Klepner said the need for HAH’s resources in Harpswell is “substantial,” given the age of its population, but there is a concern that people may be too proud to ask for help. He hopes the group’s usefulness will be spread by word-of-mouth.
“We’re very enthusiastic about the program and we are hoping it’s a huge success because we do think it provides an important service to people,” he said.
From left, Dick Regan, Jerry Klepner and Marjorie Parker of Harpswell Aging at Home are launching the new initiative next month called Home Helpers.