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updated: 4/19/2013 11:56 PM

Three Chicago nonprofits create first home improvement company for 55+ set

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  • Three non-profits have joined forces to create a home improvement company aimed at helping seniors live comfortably and safely in their own homes.

      Three non-profits have joined forces to create a home improvement company aimed at helping seniors live comfortably and safely in their own homes.
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Three non-profits have joined forces to create PrimeLife Home Improvement, the first Chicago area home improvement company aimed at helping seniors live comfortably and safely in their own homes -- where studies show they want to stay.

AARP reports nearly 90 percent of seniors over age 65 want to remain home as long as possible instead of moving to a nursing or retirement home. Yet those who do often fall victim to scam artists who offer to perform home repairs but then take the money and disappear, or worse, commit violent acts.

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PrimeLife is the brainchild of three innovative Chicago area non-profits with over 200 years combined experience serving seniors and advocating on their behalf. The three companies who formed PrimeLife are Cantata Adult Life Services, Chicagoland Methodist Senior Services and H.O.M.E. (Housing Opportunities & Maintenance for the Elderly). Each has representation on PrimeLife's board.

PrimeLife serves seniors in Chicago's Cook and collar counties and hires only the most trustworthy, reliable and skilled handymen and contractors. All hires are required to enroll in sensitivity and customer service training specific to working with the senior population. In addition, all contractors and handymen employed by PrimeLife Home Improvement complete rigorous drug testing and criminal background checks. PrimeLife also carries greater insurance and liability coverage than other home improvement providers.

"We have high standards for the efficiency and quality of jobs, and also for the professionalism and customer service skills of the person doing the job. We won't send out any handymen or contractors who don't meet those standards," says Sandra Crasko, Vice President of Community Services for Chicagoland Methodist Senior Services.

Chosen to lead PrimeLife Home Improvement is 46 year-old industry veteran Chris Roller, who has over 25 years of experience and an interest in working for a mission-driven company and giving back to the community. Roller started out as a carpenter and cabinet maker while working his way through college. He went on to work in project management roles for builders Cambridge Homes and Cherrington Design & Building, and also owned his own building and design firm. Roller has worked extensively with Habitat for Humanity. He earned a Bachelor's degree from Eastern Illinois University and also studied gerontology. Roller lives in Batavia with his architect wife and their two children.

"People see why this is a good idea right away when I tell them about it. You want someone trustworthy and reliable to provide home maintenance for seniors. When we work in people's homes we appreciate that we're entering their inner sanctum. We're working in their space on their time," says Roller.

"Many older adults have been living in their homes a really long time. We just completed work for a 93 year-old living in the home where she was born," Roller adds, "That requires a special approach."

PrimeLife Home Improvement offers free estimates for projects of any size, with absolutely no obligation. To contact PrimeLife for home improvement services call 708-387-1055.

Cantata Adult Life Services is a not-for-profit organization that provides adult life services, including home care and care management, handyman and home improvement services, fitness and wellness programs, lifelong learning classes, independent living apartment homes, assisted living apartments, rehabilitation services, outpatient therapies and other services designed to help adults 55 and better live their best lives. The overarching goal of the organization is to facilitate active living and the continuation of healthy relationships with and among people of all ages, as the basis of a full, harmonious and naturally fulfilling life. www.cantata.org

Chicagoland Methodist Senior Services (CMSS) is the most extensive senior services network on Chicago's north side. As a nonprofit and accredited organization, CMSS sets a high standard of care and is one of Chicago's oldest and strongest nonprofit organizations dedicated to serving older adults. Incorporated in 1898, CMSS now offers rehabilitation, skilled memory support, memory support assisted living, supportive living, personalized home care, computer services, home improvement, affordable independent housing and outpatient nutrition therapy. www.cmsschicago.org.

H.O.M.E helps Chicago's low-income seniors maintain their independence by providing services unlike any organization in the City of Chicago. H.O.M.E.'s services include a home upkeep and repair service to ensure seniors enjoy healthy and safe living conditions. A shopping bus assists seniors who have limited mobility or live in food deserts to have access to groceries, pharmacies and medical services that are essential to their well-being. H.O.M.E. also owns and manages three affordable buildings where seniors can choose between two styles of living--individual apartments or, for residents who need some assistance, shared living. www.homeseniors.org.

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