It is easy to understand why people like to stay
as they grow older.
One way an older person can feel
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
students who offer "an extra pair of hands" to help
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
high closet shelves you've always meant to tackle. Armed with a list,
shop for food or run errands in the neighbourhood. SAINTS walk dogs,
Christmas cards, move patio furniture, and yes, we even do windows.
expect that while students are not professionals, they will try their
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
Both groups can feel lonely
and are often
with their new friends across a large span of years, while negative
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
they find their clients' life stories. Seniors find it refreshing to
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
wanted to have tea and hear about my school work and interests!" Some
have kept the SAINT and senior in touch long after the student has
While clients receive enthusiastic, low-cost
students learn new job skills which will be useful in later life. At
same time, they gather references for university applications or future
work positions. They also learn that someone is depending on them to
commitments, and that the work they do makes a real difference in
life. SAINTS hopes that the positive experiences a student has will be
reflected in later years as the young person chooses other volunteer
There are some limits to the ability of
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.
are unable to offer chauffeuring skills, although they can accompany a
client on a shopping trip.
When students join the program, they
to supply two
(one from school and one from the community) to assure us that they are
honest, reliable and suited to working with seniors. Clients are
to review their home insurance, as they will be the "employer" of the
person and are thus responsible for personal injury claims on their
While SAINTS offers an excellent "first level"
aware that the needs of some clients are too complex for a student to
with. We are closely linked with other local services such
(Senior Peoples' Resources in North Toronto) and Yorkminster Park Meals
on Wheels, so we can work together to provide the most appropriate
of in-home care.
SAINTS help a larger group than just
those over 65.
to assist disabled adults, whether the problem is chronic, or a
condition which interferes with doing household chores. A broken wrist
or bad back can make it very difficult to vacuum, shovel snow or do
shopping! For all groups, we offer help on a continuing basis, or for
How does one reach the SAINTS?
We're only a click away or if you like, a phone call away, at
and our friendly 24 hour answering machine will accept calls if there
noone in the office.
Our boundaries cover North Toronto from
Bathurst to Bayview, and Bloor Street to
a map, click here). We may be able to offer help outside
on occasion, or refer seniors to programs in their own area.
Many other parts of Metro have at
view a map of services in other parts of Toronto please click here.
Seniors can also call the Guidance Department of
high school, and request assistance in finding a student worker.
If you or a neighbour would like to hire a
just call. You'll not only be helping a student learn job skills,
be making a new friend!