HelpAroundTown Wins Governor’s Award

Caption Governor Charlie Baker, Reem Yared, and Eileen Connors, co-chair of the Governor’s Council on Aging.

By E. Ashley Rooney

 

In 2011, Reem Yared founded HelpAroundTown to generate work and create entry-level work opportunities by facilitating jobs between neighbors. In the process, she built a trusted local marketplace for youth and adults. The firm grew quickly from its launch town of Lexington, MA to 175 cities and towns in Massachusetts.

This past December, HelpAroundTown won one of five cash awards from In Good Company: The 2018 Optimal Aging Challenge, a global competition designed to identify breakthrough solutions to social isolation and loneliness among older adults. The competition was sponsored by Governor Charlie Baker’s Council to Address Aging in MA, along with MIT AgeLab, GE HealthCare and Benchmark Senior Living. Each sponsor picked one winner. HelpAroundTown was selected by the Governor’s Council on Aging in MA and was introduced by the Council co-chair, Eileen Connors.

Reem Yared said, “The challenge goal was to leverage technology and community resources to decrease loneliness and isolation among MA Seniors – an important component of seniors’ well-being. Governor Baker set a goal of Massachusetts becoming the most age-friendly state in the nation and he was there for the award ceremony, supportive, engaged, and asking questions.” Baker’s administration formed the Commonwealth’s first Governor’s Council to Address Aging in MA to analyze ways for the state to improve public and private means for supporting and engaging with older adults.

HelpAroundTown received this award because it “is a personalized, localized community marketplace that connects neighbors organically, by facilitating transactions between people who need help and neighbors looking for flexible work. HelpAroundTown believes that some people have what other people need, and that by connecting them, we can strengthen community ties and create intergenerational bonds.”

The five winners received an initial cash prize of $5,000 USD each and could have an opportunity to work with Challenge sponsors to mature their solution. “The challenge of social isolation and loneliness in an aging society is made more difficult by the diversity of causes,” says MIT AgeLab Director and Founder, Joseph Coughlin, Ph.D.  “The success of this challenge was the identification of innovative solutions that blended high tech as well as human touch.”

By 2035, nearly a quarter of Massachusetts’s residents will be at least 65 years old. Today’s seniors tend to be more isolated than 20 years ago, with 29% estimated to be socially isolated. According to AARP, prolonged isolation has a mortality effect equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“We’re thrilled that HelpAroundTown was recognized as a tool to “help seniors connect to their communities, stay healthy in their later years, and continue to lead meaningful lives.”” said Yared.
“It’s wonderful to see help go both ways. Retirees often help young families with after-school child-care, home repairs or tutoring. Students help shovel snow, move a couch, or set up a new phone. We need each other and we all have something valuable to offer. HelpAroundTown finds the neighbors who can help.”


 

Help Around Town, Inc.
P.O. Box 546
Lexington, MA 02420
founder@helparoundtown.com 781-325-TOWN (781-325-8696)

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