Chore Service keeps community strong


SHARON - A collective effort that works toward filling the many needs of the community, the Chore Service knows how to roll up its sleeves and use a bit of elbow grease to get the job done.

From indoor work, such as cleaning, arranging furniture and minor repairs, to outside chores, including snow shoveling, carpentry and landscaping, the Chore Service employs personnel who are equipped to do most any job come rain, sleet, snow or sunshine.

The service, which just celebrated its 15th year, is available to residents in the towns of North Canaan, Cornwall, Falls Village, Kent, Norfolk and Salisbury in addition to Sharon, but its focus is on helping the elderly and disabled.

Helping elders remain at home

"Our main objective is to keep people independent and in the community," said Ella Clark, Sharon's social service agent and coordinator of the Chore Service. "It provides a way for people who are unable to perform these essential tasks on their own to stay in their own homes."

Clark started the program back in 1992 because some older families were at risk. They had given up state home care services after the state implemented the requirement that a lien be placed on their property.

One 79-year-old Chore Service client said in a letter that, "What it boils down to is the Chore Service lets me keep my home, and that is where I am happiest."

According to Clark, over half of the service's clients are 80 or over, while 12 percent are 90 or over. Two thirds are women. "Because," as Clark put it, "we live longer and poorer than men."

Original funding for the service was provided by a grant from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. It is now partially funded by a federal grant from the Western Connecticut Area Agency on Aging. This subsidy, along with other grants and donations from individuals, towns and corporations, make it possible for Chore Service clients to pay a "suggested contribution" toward a service which, if provided on the open market, would cost $20 or more per hour.

For example, a single person with an income of about $1,100 a month would be asked to offer $7 per hour for any work that has been performed.

The Chore Service tries to ensure that at least 90 percent of the money it spends is used to pay for services; in 2007, 92 percent of an available $303,000 went to pay for services.

Last fiscal year, the service helped 195 families across its seven-town area of operation.

The community also benefits from the Chore Service because it creates part-time jobs for area residents, who earned over $220,000 last fiscal year, at $12.50 an hour plus mileage.

However, Clark says the service does more than just provide jobs and labor.

"Many workers and clients form close friendships," Clark said during an interview at her office on Friday. "And for some of our clients, the worker is their primary link to the outside world."

To find out more about the Chore Service, contact Ella Clark at 860-364-1003 or e-mail her at A Web site for the Chore Service is expected to be up and running by April at



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