By Janice Szabo
Special to the Observer
Del Borah is a talkative 88-year-old retiree from General Electric and IBM. His days are packed full with exercise class, yard work, tending his large vegetable garden, keeping his online dating profile updated, enjoying lunch with his friends and family and an endless list of handyman projects. “It’s all self-inflicted!” he says. “I make myself this busy!”
He loves his rural Williston home, where his handyman projects abound, and he has lived in the area for almost 60 years.
When Borah contacted HomeShare Vermont, he hoped to find a housemate for some conversation and companionship.
His wife had passed away the year prior, and he and his family found it therapeutic to transform her former painting studio into a bright, lovely living space.
He said he was tired of being the “chief cook and bottle washer,” but added that he was quite open-minded about who this potential home-sharer might be. He was just hoping the person would share his own interest in health and fitness.
HomeShare Vermont introduced Borah to Geoff Brown, an upbeat 22-year-old Saint Michael’s graduate with a degree in philosophy. Geoff ’s days are busy at a local outdoor gear store, and during the summer he also works as a camp counselor.
He is an avid skateboarder and plays percussion in a band at his church. Brown brought a good sense of humor and a thoughtful consideration of what he had to offer as a home-sharer to his first meeting with Borah.
They decided to go forward and during the two-week trial match program, they saw right away it would work, so the arrangement became permanent in March.
Brown heads home from the shop after work most days for dinner with Borah. They take turns cooking and then get situated with TV trays to enjoy an episode of M.A.S.H. while they eat.
“I have all 256 episodes and we’re up to season 9,” Borah said. “We both love it.”
They enjoy sharing philosophical discussions and even started hiking together. Borah has spent time with Brown’s parents and grandparents and he added with a smile, “Geoff ’s friends all want to meet his 80-year-old roommate.”
Like any housemates, they don’t see eye to eye on everything, but “agree to disagree” and have a great respect and fondness for one another. Borah, who is happy to share those cooking and “bottle-washing” duties with his new housemate and friend, describes Brown as a man of his word who will help out in any way he can. “He’s that kind of guy,” Borah says.
Brown has found what he wanted from home-sharing as well: the opportunity to offer companionship and outdoor work in exchange for sharing a comfortable, affordable home.
“I’m having a great time living with Del and I’m looking forward to staying with him for quite a while!” Brown said.
Janice Szabo is the Intake & Outreach Coordinator for HomeShare Vermont.