GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A month after he has come and gone, his customers sometimes can recall only his first name and the small home-repair job he did for them for free.
But Steven Deliyianis doesn’t mind, he just gets a kick out of helping ease the lives of senior citizens who can’t do certain kinds of work for themselves.
“This is only in, let’s see, what you call construction, small things. Stuff to make it safer in the home for them,” he said of the Helping Hands for Seniors program, as it is known. He listed some of his typical projects, involving installing handrails or ramps, dimmer switches, and, increasingly, small plumbing repairs.
Deliyianis, who has lived in the valley for a couple of decades and currently lives in Glenwood Springs, is not actually a construction worker by trade, other than the on-the-job training he gets while taking care of rental properties, mostly in Carbondale, that he owns and maintains mainly by himself.
“I’ve become handy, not by choice, necessarily, but I’ve had to learn just about every trade,” he said.
He is 58, and said he has been volunteering his time for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) for about two years now, remarking with a surprised tone, “You have to be 50 or 55 to even volunteer, believe it or not.”
He makes the trips to the project sites in his own pickup truck, but typically will do an initial drive-by to see what has to be done, what kinds of tools he needs to gather up and what kind of parts are needed, and finally to estimate how long it will take to do the job.
Deliyianis is dispatched to the homes of senior citizens in need of a handyman by the High Country RSVP office in Glenwood Springs, said Patty Daniels, program director, who explained that RSVP arranges for volunteers to do a variety of work, such as simple yard work, replacing light bulbs and smoke detector batteries and other things.
The handyman program, she said, is funded through grants and private donations, and the work is done for free to the recipients, who arrange for the work by calling 970-384-8746.
Daniels or another RSVP staff member then calls Deliyianis, who sets up an appointment to do the job.
“He was very polite, very well versed in what he came to do, and was very helpful to me,” said Bernida Elwell, 75, of Glenwood Springs, who called RSVP to get someone to fix a leaky toilet thank that had been a problem for more than a year.
“He located it immediately,” she said of Deliyianis’ visit. “It was kind of a little problem, but I didn’t want to call a plumber and have to pay $500 to $600 to have it fixed.”
Elizabeth Jones of Parachute, who preferred not to reveal her age, recalled that Deliyianis came to her house about a year and a half ago to install a wall-mounted microwave oven.
“It was fine,” Jones said of the work. “They were very pleasant.”
“He brought someone with him to help lift up the microwave. It was pretty heavy,” Jones elaborated.
As she thought more about the visit, Jones remarked, “There was something really funny about that.” She said Deliyianis and his helper put the old, broken microwave in the box that had held the new unit, and put that out on the curb for a special trash pickup.
“But the next morning, it was gone,” Jones recalled with glee in her voice. “Someone had come and stolen it in the night.”
Laughing now, she continued, “It was all broken, and they stole it.”
The Helping Hands for Seniors goes beyond RSVP, said Becky Rippy, transitional housing case manager for the Catholic Charities organization, who said she has used the service a couple of times.
One was to install a safety bar in the home of an elderly man, she said, and the other was to install interior privacy doors in a mobile home occupied by the elderly relative of a family living there.
“It’s a great program, and we really appreciate Steven, who is a very nice man,” she said. “We don’t always have people to do the work, or money to pay people, so it comes in handy.”
And the handyman himself said he is happy to do it.
“I really do believe these recipients are members of the greatest generation, the people who went through the war [World War II] and then went on to build this country into what it became,” he said, “and I feel good about giving something back.”
“I really do believe these recipients are members of the greatest generation, the people who went through the war [World War II] and then went on to build this country into what it became, and I feel good about giving something back.”