Even after the declaration that the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, Reem Yared of Lexington knew many teenagers who couldn’t find summer jobs because adults were taking entry-level positions in order to make ends meet. Concerned for youths needing to save money, gain experience, and build professional reputations, Yared launched Help Around Town Inc. in May 2011 to connect teens looking for flexible jobs with neighbors seeking help with to-do lists. Since that time, the service has attracted more than 4,000 registered users in 40 states, including 133 cities and towns within Massachusetts — all through word-of-mouth.
Q. How does Help Around Town work?
A. Suppose you need someone to mow your lawn. You register, create a profile, and post the job for free. Job seekers register, create their own profile, and get job alerts tailored to their interests and location, also for free. After the job is complete, both parties can rate and recommend each other. It works out well.
Q. How do you make money?
A. The one part of the site that’s paid is for people who want to promote their business by posting an ad.
Q. Who uses the service?
A. It has worked for youth exactly as I hoped it would, and even well beyond. But it also helps seniors who need help shoveling snow, planting bulbs and weeding, moving a couch, emptying a dehumidifier — those types of one-time or occasional jobs when you need an extra pair of hands. Then there are middle-age people who need extra money and moms returning to part-time work. It’s been really nice to see the variety, as well as the intergenerational connections.
Q. Is privacy an issue?
A. Because the site is designed for kids, there are lots of privacy settings. I’m a mom, and I need to be able to sleep at night.
Q. Are you also a client?
A. I’ve hired brand ambassadors and a young man who designed fliers, presentations, and infographics. I’ve also had users volunteer to make an app so we can be more mobile-friendly. There’s so much talent.
Q. Have there been any unusual job postings?
A. One of our high-frequency users posted a job for help sorting a 3,000-book library. There was also a guy who needed his plane washed every other week. He had six applicants, and one of them was a high school girl who had her pilot license. Who knew?
Cindy Cantrell may be contacted at email@example.com.