Berkley Seniors Start High Schoolers with Helping Hands

Berkley Seniors Start High Schoolers with Helping Handskeith dalton ad

(Karen Evans, Macaroni Kid Ferndale-Royal Oak, Sept. 17, 2014)

On a warm sunny day, Berkley High School seniors Eliza Laramee and Ziporah Krolikowski sit at an outside table at Starbucks in downtown Royal Oak, a 3-ring binder open in front of them. Homework time? No, not yet — homework comes later. Right now, they are meeting to talk about their new business, High Schoolers With Helping Hands.

Wearing t-shirts emblazoned with their High Schoolers With Helping Hands logo (in varsity font, with a handprint decal added), Eliza and Ziporah are incredibly enthusiastic yet extremely professional as they talk about their venture. The pair met working for Summer in the City, which pairs volunteers with various projects in Detroit. Their project was running a carpool site together, and they enjoyed both the experience of the project and of working together. Both are considering majoring in business next year, so they decided to start a business together to get a real-life feel for what “business” really is. Eliza was already working for residents in her community, doing projects like house painting, and realized that there was a large demand for that sort of help around town. The two also saw that their friends were interested in earning money, but with sports schedules and academic commitments, many of their peers couldn’t commit to fixed-schedule jobs like bagging groceries. The light bulb turned on: create a business that pairs responsible teens who want work with home owners who need help around the house. And so High Schoolers With Helping Hands was born.

High Schoolers With Helping Hands provides “pretty much any service that a high schooler can do,” Ziporah explained. Painting rooms, packing boxes, running errands, tutoring, one-on-one sports coaching for kids, weeding, lawn mowing, snow shoveling — the list goes on. When a client contacts the service and the client’s needs are analyzed, the client is matched with one of the students on the service’s roster based on the student’ssidebar016grow skills and availability. Once the work is completed, Eliza or Ziporah visit the client to ensure the work was done properly and deliver the invoice for payment. Rates are variable depending on the job. The pair are committed to charging competitive prices, and to ensuring their workers get paid higher than minimum wage. The demand for their service was no clearer than during the flooding, when they had only been in business for about a month, and found themselves juggling 60 requests within a single week.

Testimonials (mostly from the site NextDoor.com, a niche social networking site designed to be an online place for neighbors to interact) praise Eliza and Ziporah for their professionalism, great attitude and quality work. Their professionalism is evident in our meeting, as well — their binder includes a profit/loss statement, their roster of clients, their roster of workers, and their invoice form. They are being careful about marketing — since their clients are all local, they are spending their efforts on connecting personally with local residents through NextDoor and soon through fliers at local businesses, rather than through a website or wider-reaching robert wittenberg election 2014 adsocial network. They will be working on the business as a directed study this semester with their high school Principal and Assistant Principal providing some guidance. Eliza also credits her father, a business owner, with providing valuable information. The pair’s dedication is evident — Ziporah happened to be in California when the flooding happened, and spent much of the time working remotely to help Eliza field email and phone requests and dispatch workers.

Asked what will happen to the business next year, there is some laughter and a note that they never expected to achieve so much success so quickly — they were doing this for the experience, not the money. But this is followed by their plan for succession. When they attend college next year, they will keep control of the business, but will train another generation of seniors to run the day-to-day functions. “All of our clients are so seed04_gallowaysupportive. People we just met tell us they are proud of us!” Eliza tells me. “They help us, we help them. It gives a community feeling,” Ziporah says. “We just want our clients to know how much we appreciate them.”

So far, they have done work in Berkley, Huntington Woods, Oak Park and Ferndale (with many clients hiring them multiple times) and are open to projects in other local cities. If you want to learn more, they can be reached at highschoolerswithhelpinghands@gmail.com.

 

Karen Evans publishes Macaroni Kid Ferndale-Royal Oak, a free weekly e-newsletter and website featuring local family events and resources for families in Ferndale, Royal Oak and surrounding areas. Check it out at http://ferndale.macaronikid.com or visit macaronikid.com to find the Macaroni Kid publisher in your town!

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