Need Help Around the House? Find it at

By Laurie Atwater  |

Reem Yared is concerned about young people today and the lack of employment opportunities for them both before and after college. “My friend’s children are graduating and not finding jobs,” she says. “Kids who used to be able to find jobs in local businesses are being shut out by people with more experience. “With the economy the way it is the downward pressure on jobs is really hurting young people,” she says.

“I did some research and found that the age group from teens to 22 is the hardest hit in the recession,” she observes. With so many adults looking for work the kids are being squeezed out. “It’s a crisis,” she says. “It’s a dynamic where if they can’t work they can’t save money and then maybe they can’t go to college. And if they’re not getting an education or work experience…” Reem’s voice trails off as she sighs, “What’s going to happen to these kids?” As a mom of high school and college age kids she knows parents are concerned.

Not one to sit by and just worry, Reem began to actively attack the problem. Yared is a graduate of Harvard and has an MBA from the Wharton School. She consulted for fifteen years working on internet programs for businesses large and small.

Yared relied on that extensive background in online information services as she mentally attacked the problem and came up with a local solution. So many of us have long to-do lists and we don’t know where to turn when it comes to small jobs—things that don’t require a contractor or professional service.

And since kids don’t go around the neighborhood knocking on doors like they did in the Leave it to Beaver era, most people don’t know if there’s someone right around the corner looking for work.

“What’s holding us back from hiring these kids?” she questioned. The answer came to her from the online world she knows so well. Why not create an online neighborhood exchange where folks could post their odd jobs and kids could apply for those jobs. Help Around Town was born as a neighbor-to-neighbor network.

“We create the marketplace where people meet,” she says. “The idea is since this is a neighborhood service—I may not know you, but I may know your mom or someone else who hired you.”

And the jobs are amazingly varied. Everything from babysitting, pet sitting, sewing, running errands and yard work. With spring apparently here, yard cleanups would fit right in. This is not a professional job board, although Reem did add a bulletin board section to the site where people can post a description of their qualifications and their contact information for a nominal fee.

“It’s been really interesting to see the types of jobs that have been posted. “One job was sorting a collection of 3,000 books!” Reem also notes that students have been very helpful as amateur computer geeks helping older citizens figure out their email, or Skype or using their digital photo software.

Currently both parties—the person doing the hiring and the person taking the job—can rate each other. “I thought very carefully about the ratings and decided that this would ensure checks and balances in the process,” Reem says thoughtfully. She hopes the mutual ratings will tap into a desire to maintain a great reputation and make it very reliable. An additional comment section allows for some give and take. Reem also hopes the service will bring community to our often isolated lives.

“We have a whole generation of kids who have been told not to talk to strangers,” she says. “They often don’t even know their next door neighbors. Reem hopes that Help Around Town will help establish relationships between young and old in an era when there is little inter-generational contact.

“I was volunteering at Big Lex this year,” she says, “and this mother came up to me to explain that her son had registered on the site and ended up doing several jobs for an elderly neighbor. He just loved doing it so much that he has done three or four more jobs for her. The mom said that it has created a relationship and I love that. That’s really what this is all about.”

Reem is also hoping that businesses will post their internship opportunities and nonprofits will post volunteer opportunities. “The high school students have community service hours to complete and many empty-nesters have some time to devote to volunteer work.”

Yared understands parental concerns about on-line safety. There are several security measures built into the site. Children under 14 may not use the service. When a minor (14 & 15) applies for a job an email is sent to their parents and the parents must submit a $3 check as approval. Parents can opt their child out if they don’t want them to participate and home addresses of minors never appear.. Older teens can participate without parental consent. Profiles are protected; you must give your link to a prospective employer before they can view your profile.

If you are looking for a job, some help around the house or the yard, a ride or a volunteer opportunity visit Help Around Town at



Share this: