York County seniors get help from Rent-a-Kid


York County residents who need an extra hand around their homes and yards can now rent a kid for help.

The Rent-a-Kid program, which has been sponsored by the York County Area Agency on Aging for more than 30 years, connects teenagers with older adults who need a hand with odd jobs and chores such as shoveling or raking.

Rent: The program, which is available to residents 60 and older, is based in volunteer work, but the Agency on Aging recommends paying rented kids $5 an hour.

Polly Weiss, 61, decided to take advantage of the program after experiencing some back problems this fall. The York City resident, in spite of her "small city yard," has an extensive herb garden that had become difficult for her to tend on her own.

"There are herbs everywhere," she said. "I have tomatoes and peppers. There's not a place in my garden that isn't planted — when I couldn't go any further horizontally, I started to plant vertically."

The agency in September gave her a pair of names to call, and she ended up connecting with Caleb, a teenager who lives just a street down from her.

Bonding: "He was kind of quiet and didn't say a whole lot at first," Weiss said. "When he took a break I got some freeze-pops out of the freezer so I could get to know him a little bit."

The pair bonded over their love of music, the fact that they both served on their churches' worship committees and their mutual birthday, Oct. 25.

"It's a funny coincidence," she said. "It made me feel like I was supposed to end up with him. I called him on his birthday and even got him a little present."

Since pairing up in September, Weiss said they have spent a lot of time mulching her garden — with her back problems, she was unable to lift and move the 40-pound bags without help.

She said it appeared that the teen initially had very little experience with gardening, but she has enjoyed teaching him.

"I just think it's a really neat concept," Weiss said of the Rent-a-Kid program. "It has that cross-generational element, so it helps me keep in touch, too. I don't have kids or anything, so he helps keep me up with what's going on a lot of the time."

Future: Weiss said she would "absolutely" continue working with Caleb throughout the winter months.

"We've closed up shop for the summer," she said. "I do some of my own shovelling, but it's nice to know that there's someone one street over who cares and who would be willing to help."

The York City resident said she has been looking to downsize and thinks she'll be able to with Caleb's help.

"I'll be able to pack up my boxes, and he'll be able to carry them right out," Weiss said. "I asked him a little bit ago to grab a ladder from my basement, and when he came back I told him 'that's our next project.'"

Weiss said she's very often impressed by her rent-a-kid.

"He's very well- spoken," she said. "I'm always impressed with him — one time when his phone rang, he asked me if he could take the call. I know that's a small thing, but how many kids, adults even, would do that now? Most of them, you can't get them away from their screens."

York County residents interested in utilizing the Rent-a-Kid program can call the York County Area Agency on Aging at 771-9103 or 1 (800) 632-9073 or visit their website, www.ycaaa.org.

— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at jschladebeck@yorkdispatch.com.