Meet a Few Umbrella Neighbors

Umbrella Neighbors are the secret sauce of everything we do. They are often recent retirees, former teachers, firefighters, business executives or artists. Others are community members who find that Umbrella fits into their lives as a way to earn extra income and give back. Read on to meet a few of the Neighbors we work with and hear about their favorite Umbrella experience.

  Stacey S., Shipping Associate and Mother of Two

Stacey S., Shipping Associate and Mother of Two

“I have members that I do recurring cleaning for who invite me to sit, drink coffee and chat with them - it’s lovely.”

  Bob T., Semi-Retired Attorney

Bob T., Semi-Retired Attorney

“I set up a Gmail account for a member as she wanted to be able to receive digital photos from family members.”

  Ranjeev R., Navy Veteran

Ranjeev R., Navy Veteran

“I’m a musician and I stained a deck for a member who is also a musician. She opened the windows and played the piano for me the whole time I was working- it made the time fly by.”

 
  Zack R., College Student

Zack R., College Student

“There was a woman I took to a doctor’s appointment. It was really nice to go with her – she was very kind. She wasn’t confident going on her own and I took her and I felt like I did a really good thing for somebody. It was very rewarding.”

  Faith G., Retired Graphic Designer

Faith G., Retired Graphic Designer

“Wrapping Christmas gifts and helping a member with creating online photo albums.”

  Carl B., Retired Telecommunications Professional

Carl B., Retired Telecommunications Professional

“I did some weeding and yardwork for a member. He stayed outside with me and showed me exactly what he wanted me to do. We became friends. He shared some things about himself and I shared some things about myself. It’s a nice way to work.”

  Mike M., Retired FDNY

Mike M., Retired FDNY

“I did a two person job and it went really well- I am retired from FDNY, and the other Neighbor’s son was on the job. We hit it off great!”

  Amy S., Artist and Handyperson

Amy S., Artist and Handyperson

“I've done electrical work for several people and it's always nice to chat with them and hear about their lives.”

  Jim S., Retired Facilities Manager and Veteran

Jim S., Retired Facilities Manager and Veteran

“All the Umbrella experiences have been rewarding. I have been able to help an army veteran on 3 different occasions. He is struggling to maintain his home and property as he is in poor health. It’s awesome to be able to provide this service to someone who has served us.”

Brad Cohen

BRAD COHEN

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a retired health care administrator and college professor. I taught an Associates degree program for medical professionals. I grew up in Brooklyn and Queens and ultimately moved to Nassau County. I have a number of hobbies — I’m an avid tennis player and like to travel.

How’d you come to be a Handy Neighbor for Umbrella and why do you do it?

When I retired, I was looking for something to do. I have handy skills from fixing stuff around my own house for 20+ years. Obviously, I don’t do this job for the money.

I saw an ad, talked with Sam, and I signed up. It took a while for it to get going here, so for the first 4-5 months I really didn’t do anything. I had taken a part-time job, which I found very uninteresting to do, so I got back in touch and they’ve kept me VERY busy since — 3 or 4 days a week.

I’ve done furniture assembly, electrical fixtures, painting, minor plumbing, cleaning out gutters… I enjoy all of that! I’ve always been interested in home repairs and renovations.

What’s a memorable Umbrella experience you’ve had?

I went to assemble a backyard furniture set for someone and somebody’s husband had done the other half of it and when I got there all these parts were left over. So I did the other side and I still had all these parts and I said, “You want me to take apart the other side?” She said, “No, no. We’ll save the parts and if it falls apart, we’ll call you.”

I’ve been very happy to meet with everybody. I really like doing this. I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people — essentially my neighbors, people in my community. I like the idea of helping people that otherwise might not be able to do things on their own.

I think that part of what the program is for the members is they get a visit from somebody. It’s nice to have somebody come into your house, especially if you live alone. Like next week I have a job installing fixtures and light bulbs for someone who’s wheelchair-bound. That’s the kind of thing I like doing, going back to when I was younger. I always wanted to do something like that.

Sandy+Murray.jpeg

SANDY MURRAY

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I used to work installing alarm systems and working on alarm systems. So I’ve always been semi-handy. I’ve been retired for a few years.

I’m also a car enthusiast — I’m a Corvette guy. I had an old Corvette that I just got rid of and got a new one.

Has anyone asked you to work on their car? 

No. And I really wouldn’t want to. It’s funny because when I started to work with Umbrella, they sent out a pretty extensive questionnaire about what you wanted to do and what you didn’t want to do. I only work on my own car.

How’d you come to be a Handy Neighbor for Umbrella and why do you do it?

I read an article about Umbrella, how they had started in upstate New York. And I initially looked at it because my brother lives in the area. It sounded interesting. My wife was looking at it too and she said they’re moving down to Long Island and would you be interested? So being retired and having free time, I gave them a call and was impressed with their model of what they wanted to do. I was also very impressed by the co-founder who started it, Lindsay Ullman. She’s a Yale graduate, worked for Google, she’s got this idea and she’s running with it. The whole idea is kind of cool.

I’ve been working with them for a few months now. I started out doing it once a week. Lately, it’s been getting busier. Next week I think I have three things to do. They’re becoming more known.

I see the value in it. You want to stay in your home but you need to maintain your home. Little things happen that could become a pain in the neck to take care of. As you get older, friends who help you – they’re no longer there. Your husband – he’s no longer there. And simple things become big things.

The fact that they vet people as well as they do gives people the ability to trust the people they’re going to send over to them. On the other end, guys who are retired, they have time, they’re fairly handy and enjoy this kind of work. It’s a win-win.

What’s your favorite Umbrella memory/experience?

A couple, who were kind of cute, called up about an answering machine that didn’t work. So I went there. I had worked with telephones so I know a bit about them, and everything worked fine. I got the feeling that they just wanted someone to come in and reassure them. I wound up staying there half an hour just talking with them.

I just enjoy talking to people.

To learn more about Umbrella, visit askumbrella.com or call (516) 882 – 4498.

This article originally appeared in BKLYNER. Thank you to Brad Cohen and Sandy Murray!