Meet a Few Umbrella Neighbors

Umbrella Neighbors are the stars of Umbrella.

They are skilled, community members who find that Umbrella fits into their lives as a way to earn extra income and give back.

Meet some of our most beloved Umbrella Neighbors!

What is your favorite Umbrella experience?

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.”

Zack R., College Student
Carl B., Retired Telecomms 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.”

Carl B., Retired Telecomms Professional
Stacey S., Shipping Associate and Mother of 2

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

Stacey S., Shipping Associate and Mother of 2
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."

Ranjeev R., Navy Veteran

Q&A with Umbrella Neighbor 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.

Q&A with Umbrella Neighbor 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 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.