Advice From the Trenches

Advice from the Trenches: Lawn and learn

Dear C,

I’m a single homeowner with a creatively rewarding albeit low-paying career. I was married for 12 years, so I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. Honestly? I like living alone.

I have been very independent in the last 30 years of my life but now that I am starting to get a little older – OK, I admit it, I am over 55 now – I am starting to have a hard time keeping up with taking care of my house, taking care of business, and finding time to take care of myself. I need help. The problem is that I really can’t afford to pay someone to take care of the stuff for me.

Everyone my own age now hires a lawn crew. I’ve asked some of them for recommendations but every time they quote what to them is a “super cheap”  price all I can think of is geez they must be in a higher income bracket than I am because I can’t pay $150 a month for someone to mow my lawn.  

I’d ask a neighborhood kid but none of the neighbors I know have teenage kids – most of their children have grown up and moved away by now. Got any ideas how can I find affordable help?

C says:

There are a lot of licensed lawn care sites you can turn to, such as Angie’s List and, but you will pay extra for their advertising and overhead. Craigslist is a possibility, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. Why take chances on anonymous posts? This is RI. We may be a small state, but we do take care of our own. There are a huge number of safer and thriftier resources available for people just like you.

You didn’t mention your neighborhood or community or I would send you in a more personalized direction, but wherever you are, help is not far from hand.

First – lucky you! Your age qualifies you for membership and aid from most of the senior centers in RI. For example: the doors of the East Providence Senior Center are open to anyone over 55 and persons of any age who are disabled. They can provide or make arrangements for services and information that covers everything from health services to meals and transportation, and they have community partnerships with more than 25 different local agencies.

The City of Providence has a collection of offices and agencies that will link you to every service imaginable at They also have a Search By Town feature that allows you to see what is available nearest you.

But you don’t have to be old to find help. One resource that a lot of people forget about are our community churches. These are often hubs of support which rival any government sponsored organization and they bring people together who have a genuine desire to support each other. 

I discovered the Chinese Christian Church of Rhode Island through my friend Cathie Ho Nadeau who is originally from Hong Kong. I am not a church goer myself, but Cathie said so many positive things about this open-minded group that I had to see for myself. I discovered a friendly and non-judgemental network that welcomes everyone, whatever their beliefs or country of origin. And talk about support – I mentioned I wanted to learn Mandarin and immediately got three offers for lessons. I suspect that if I had mentioned that my lawn needs mowing it could have been arranged within minutes. Check out all their programs at

And don’t forget the libraries! They were the best thing Benjamin Franklin ever invented and I owe the only sanity and stability I knew as a child entirely to my local branch. The Community Libraries of PVD has a community support specialist who can assist with finding everything from housing services to substance abuse programs. If they can’t connect you with cheap lawn care, I don’t know who can.

The bulletin boards at many supermarkets are another good place to look for workers – everyone from teens to retirees look for opportunities there because it is free, and whoever answers is likely to live nearby with references from people you know. That’s what you want. You could try posting a flier yourself. 

There is literally an entire state full of possibilities. If you have your own mower, you are already ahead of the game.