Service to give Malverne seniors ‘real peace of mind'

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For more than 20 years, Umbrella has provided an affordable way for people 60 or older in the Albany region to care for their homes so they can remain in them. The organization, which offers them a variety of services, is now extending its operations to Nassau County, including communities such as Malverne.

“A lot of times, there’s just small things that add up, and when you aren’t sure where to go and you aren’t sure who to call, it can be worrisome,” said Lindsay Ullman, a cofounder of the organization. “These things can get in the wsay of living the life that you want to live. What Umbrella tries to do is be the place that you can go where you can get the right person, for the right job.”

Eighty-five percent of older adults say they do not want to leave their homes and move into group-living centers, according to Ullman. Their inability to care for their homes, however, often forces them out. 

“We don’t think that it should be so burdensome, and we don’t think that it should be so hard,” Ullman said. “We want to make that part of aging in your community a little bit easier.”

Last Friday, members of Umbrella visited the Malverne Cinema to introduce the program to about 50 seniors in the village. Residents enjoyed a complimentary breakfast along with a free screening of “Finding Your Feet.” “We’re really excited about engaging in the community, getting to know everybody and finding all the hot spots,” said Emma Gilsanz, Umbrella’s head of community.

For $16 an hour, Umbrella provides an array of services, from caring for pets to changing light bulbs to mowing lawns. Ullman said that it also subsidizes the cost of memberships for people with lower incomes. The organization’s Handy Neighbors, community members who are often recent retirees, do the odd jobs.

“They can choose to supplement their income, or volunteer their time by working through Umbrella,” Ullman said, “but either way, they’re helping a neighbor or another community member get things done.”

Pete Juranich, of Franklin Square, has been a Handy Neighbor for several months. A recent retiree from the New York City Fire Department, he thought this would be a great way to stay active while giving back.

“This program seemed to be local, and I could make my own hours, so that’s a very attractive thing for a retired person,” Juranich said. “The seniors are very appreciative, and it’s a very easy give-and-take.”

“The support has been really tremendous on both sides,” Ullman said. “There’s such a desire across Nassau and across many communities to be able to know that you’re making a difference.”

Samra Brouk, an Umbrella board member, said that this is one of the “magical” aspects of the organization. “It’s kind of this untapped resource,” she said. “There are so many programs out there for seniors, and yet there’s still so many seniors out there without the help that they need, so I think that’s where Umbrella comes in.”

Gilsanz said she hoped the program would grow by word of mouth, and added, “The more we lay the groundwork for that to happen, the better.”

“We hope to be a tool for the thousands of people in Nassau, and for their family members as well,” Ullman said, “to be able to achieve that goal for seniors to have a real peace of mind.”

For more information on Umbrella, go to askumbrella.com, or call (516) 882-4498.