DAYTON — He’s a world-traveled civil engineer who has been sharing his skills to help his neighbors in his retirement. Pete Hager is recognized in his neighborhoods for his work with the Ranchester-Dayton Rotarians, his volunteerism at the Tongue River Valley Community Center, and his help with maintenance at the Dayton Community Hall. 

Hager has also been known to lend a helping hand to neighbors. Now, Hager has thrown his hat in with a newly formed group of Senior Center handyman volunteers designed for older TRV residents at no charge. 

“I volunteered because I enjoy doing it and seeing happy faces,” Hager said.

“I think there’s enough work to be there, (now) it’s just making people aware of it,” Robin Ruff said. 

A certified nursing assistant, Ruff is the Tongue River Valley program coordinator for the Sheridan Senior Center assuming the position from her predecessor, Michelle Keller. Ruff’s mission is to connect TRV older residents with the center’s services that support independent living at home. Ruff previously worked in the TRV for the Senior Center’s Help at Home program that provides in-home support services such as light housekeeping, bathing, light meal preparation and laundry.

“When I was with the HAH program, I could see there is a need from banging a nail to hanging screens,” Ruff said as she provided Help at Home services to clients.

The idea of a handyman service emerged. The goal is to help not only individuals but also their families. Residents who may not have family nearby to help, or feel they may intrude on friends or neighbors, now have a resource for small jobs around the house. The Senior Center’s TRV handyman program could be viewed as an extended pair of hands for families.

Now the challenge is to get the word out. Hager, with volunteers Roger Ruff and Jim Navarro, are ready for calls to work. But the phone is far from ringing for the service.

“This is in part that they (the community) don’t know we have this service,” Ruff said. “Another is that they (residents) are so independent. They don’t want to say they need help hanging a screen.”

Hager did recently help a neighbor by repairing a screen door and putting up three window screens. The handymen can provide light maintenance such as changing lightbulbs, batteries in smoke detectors or hammering a loose nail in a porch, jobs that are too small for a contractor to do.

Ruff has started getting the word out by visiting with folks who enjoy the Senior Center lunch at the TRV Community Center.

“I hope they will get comfortable with saying to me, hey, I need help or my friend needs help or my neighbor needs help,” Ruff said.

But Ruff and the handymen will look for whatever way they can to let people know they are available.

Hager mirrors Ruff’s observation about waiting for the phone to ring.

“I think a lot of them don’t know yet we’re here to help,” Hager said. “I have a friend down the road I think could use the help but they haven’t heard about us yet.”

For larger projects, the Senior Center’s handyman program will partner with the Ranchester-Dayton Rotarians. An example could be installing a wheelchair ramp, according to Ruff.

Senior Center services have expanded in the TRV the past two years with the help of a local donor who is sponsoring the program coordinator position. With the donation, new services in the TRV include a growing companion program and now, the TRV volunteer handyman service. The Senior Center has provided Senior lunches and home-delivered meals in the TRV for years.

For information or with questions, contact Ruff at the TRVCC at 655-9419.

“As people think of little jobs that could be done, they can call,” Ruff said.