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What SAINTS is all about


It is easy to understand why people like to stay in their own homes as they grow older.
One way an older person can feel comfortable about keeping up with routine home maintenance is by looking to the other end of the age spectrum, and hiring a high school student to help.

In North Toronto, the non-profit SAINTS program is a registry of students who offer "an extra pair of hands" to help homeowners with such seasonal outdoor chores as cutting grass, shovelling snow, raking leaves, planting, pruning and exterior painting. For both apartment and house dwellers, the students also perform a range of "indoor" jobs on a year-round basis, ranging from vacuuming and tidying to clearing out those high closet shelves you've always meant to tackle. Armed with a list, students shop for food or run errands in the neighbourhood. SAINTS walk dogs, address Christmas cards, move patio furniture, and yes, we even do windows. Seniors expect that while students are not professionals, they will try their best, and will be eager to learn! Our current rate of pay is $11.00 per hour, with a one-hour minimum, paid directly to the student when the work is done.

Both groups can feel lonely and are often very comfortable communicating with their new friends across a large span of years, while negative images are laid to rest. It's amazing to hear the students talk about the ways meeting an older generation has changed their views, and how interesting they find their clients' life stories. Seniors find it refreshing to listen to the views of today's young people--one SAINTS worker complained (in mock exasperation): "I went to Mrs. S's apartment to vacuum, and she only wanted to have tea and hear about my school work and interests!" Some friendships have kept the SAINT and senior in touch long after the student has graduated.

While clients receive enthusiastic, low-cost help with household chores, students learn new job skills which will be useful in later life. At the same time, they gather references for university applications or future work positions. They also learn that someone is depending on them to honour commitments, and that the work they do makes a real difference in someone's life. SAINTS hopes that the positive experiences a student has will be reflected in later years as the young person chooses other volunteer commitments.

There are some limits to the ability of SAINTS to help a senior: students are not trained to do personal care (ie. bathing or lifting), nor are they skilled in electrical wiring, plumbing or roof work. SAINTS are unable to offer chauffeuring skills, although they can accompany a client on a shopping trip.

When students join the program, they are required to supply two references (one from school and one from the community) to assure us that they are honest, reliable and suited to working with seniors. Clients are requested to review their home insurance, as they will be the "employer" of the young person and are thus responsible for personal injury claims on their property.

While SAINTS offers an excellent "first level" of service, we become aware that the needs of some clients are too complex for a student to cope with. We are closely linked with other local services such as SPRINT (Senior Peoples' Resources in North Toronto) and Yorkminster Park Meals on Wheels, so we can work together to provide the most appropriate package of in-home care.

SAINTS help a larger group than just those over 65. We also try to assist disabled adults, whether the problem is chronic, or a temporary condition which interferes with doing household chores. A broken wrist or bad back can make it very difficult to vacuum, shovel snow or do basic shopping! For all groups, we offer help on a continuing basis, or for "one-time" projects.

How does one reach the SAINTS? We're only a click away or if you like, a phone call away, at (416)481-6284, and our friendly 24 hour answering machine will accept calls if there is noone in the office.

Our boundaries cover North Toronto from Bathurst to Bayview, and Bloor Street to Highway 401 (For a map, click here). We may be able to offer help outside these limits on occasion, or refer seniors to programs in their own area.

Many other parts of Metro have at least an outdoor jobs registry.

To view a map of services in other parts of Toronto please click here.

Seniors can also call the Guidance Department of their local high school, and request assistance in finding a student worker.


If you or a neighbour would like to hire a cheerful, energetic SAINT, just call. You'll not only be helping a student learn job skills, you'll be making a new friend!