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Seniors help other seniors repair their homes

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Albany/HV: Seniors help other seniors repair their homes
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When it comes to home repairs, the elderly get scammed all the time. But now local senior citizens have less to worry about. As Erin Connolly explains its all thanks to their fellow seniors.

COLONIE, N.Y. -- Installing a light switch cover plate or hanging up a mirror may seem like an easy task. But it's not for 65-year-old Mary McGirr of Colonie.

McGirr said, ''When you get older and you're not quite as active or agile as you used to be, you just can't manage things the way you used to when you were younger.''

So four months ago, McGirr turned to the "Umbrella of Colonie" for help. The not-for-profit group connects elderly homeowners with reliable and affordable repairmen.

McGirr said, ''It was just like an answer to a prayer you know. I said, yes, I'm on board. I want this.''

Meet 76-year-old Harry Howansky. He's one of the group's 30 repairmen. In fact, all of the workers are elderly.

Howansky said, ''You can't discard the people who are getting older. There's a lot of talent out there and a lot of us are in physically good shape.''

While the work isn't free, it's a perfect option for those on a fixed income. Membership costs $250. After that, any work is done for just $12 an hour.

From a quick clean, to a paint job, or even hanging up a picture, McGirr knows she can have all of these jobs done and have the piece of mind she's not getting ripped off.

McGirr said, ''You can have them in your home with a very easy heart and nothing will go wrong. They are great workers, great people.''

Howansky said, ''I enjoy this particularly because it also gives every one of us a reason to get up in the morning, we're helping someone else and it's a good feeling.''

And it's not all business all the time. Many of the repairmen stay and chat after their work is done.

Lauren Harrington, the director of the Umbrella Of Colonie, said, ''My family lives in a very small town and everyone takes care of each other and that's what the umbrella program is supposed to mirror, the concept of we take care of our own.''

Now McGirr says she can live her golden years with no fear, and urges others to do the same.

McGirr said, ''I know now I'm not afraid of anything breaking down now. I can call Umbrella and they'll put it right for me. It's wonderful.''

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