2014-06-20 / Front Page

Errands for the Elderly gets job done

Student creates business to assist Maine’s aging population
By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer


This spring, Scarborough High School senior Kaitlin Rayner created a business, Errands for the Elderly, in which she aims to assist senior citizens while bridging the gap between generations. (Michael Kelley photo) This spring, Scarborough High School senior Kaitlin Rayner created a business, Errands for the Elderly, in which she aims to assist senior citizens while bridging the gap between generations. (Michael Kelley photo) From an early age, Kaitlin Rayner, a rising senior at Scarborough High School, learned the spirit of giving back to others and helping to make her community better.

Rayner, who has been a Girl Scout for a dozen years, has been volunteering most of her life at such organizations as the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook and the Victoria Mansion in Portland.

Earlier this year, Rayner used that spirit to set up a business, Errands for the Elderly, to help some of the senior citizens around Scarborough.

Rayner won an award recently from Build-a-Biz for Errands for the Elderly. Build-a-Biz was started in 2012 to, according to a press release announcing Rayner’s honor, “cultivate the next generation of Maine entrepreneurs.”

“Her idea was aimed at looking at the elderly, the Baby Boomers, and coming up with an idea to help this niche market,” said Kate Krukowski Gooding, the founder and president of Build-a-Biz. “Errands for the Elderly will help our aging population.”

Gooding said through the program, students learn about financial literacy, team-building skills, marketing and advertising, goal setting and how to operate a business.

Rayner’s business stemmed from what she learned in a class she took this spring at the Westbrook Regional Vocational Center.

“In the class, Medical Occupations, there was a lot of talk about health care for senior citizens. I was inspired by that to create a business to help them,” Rayner said.

As part of her business, Rayner charges a small fee to elderly in Scarborough and surrounding communities for a variety of errands and household tasks. The fees range from $1 for trash/recycling removal, vacuuming, feeding or taking care of pets and small sewing tasks to $3 to pick up prescriptions or $5 to mow the lawn. Rayner said she donates 15 percent of the proceeds from her business to Southern Maine Agency on Aging.

“The aim is to keep prices low for the elderly and people with fixed incomes,” said Rayner, who works at Cinemagic in Saco.

Rayner said she takes pride in helping out, no matter how small the task.

“It feels good. It’s rewarding when you are done,” Rayner said. “You feel like you have made a difference in their lives. It’s really nice to get out and get to know them.”

This is Rayner’s first business, but Rayner said while growing up she “had my fair share of lemonade stands.”

Errands for the Elderly, Rayner said, is not totally aimed at making money.

“This is more than just a business. It is bridging the gap between generations. We are creating bonds with the older community,” Rayner said. Even before starting Errands for the Elderly, Rayner and her family routinely visited a senior citizen who lived nearby and needed help with household chores.

“We got really close to her. I feel like she is part of my family now,” Rayner said.

Right now Rayner is operating the business by herself, but intends to hire other teenagers as it grows. Seeing the business grow, however, is but one of Rayner’s goals.

Rayner intends to go back to continue her studies at Westbrook Regional Vocational Center next school year. At the end of the 2014-2015 school year, Rayner will become a certified nurse’s assistant. She was recently certified as a personal support specialist.

“I am really interested in the medical field. I don’t know what I want to do exactly, but I am interested in medicine,” Rayner said.

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