Website Born in Lexington Tries to Save Summer Work for Teenagers

A lifeguard observes beach goers at Houghton's Pond in Milton.
A lifeguard observes beach goers at Houghton's Pond in Milton. –Aram Boghosian/ The Boston Globe

Summer jobs for teens have been on the wane for years, both because of tough economic circumstances and a shift toward unpaid summer internships or service work.

During the height of the recession, one Lexington resident wanted to fight for kids who needed to make a buck.

Reem Yared said she launched HelpAroundTown, a job-posting site, in June 2011 after she realized so many teens were unemployed.

“[Youth] had the highest unemployment,’’ Yared said. “And I had teenage kids, but talking with friends, no one could find work that summer, and many students then couldn’t save for or attend college. So it just seemed like a terrible bind to not be able to work.’’

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Yared said experienced workers were squeezing teens out of their usual jobs, leaving them no place to turn.

“I thought, ‘I can create work,’’’ she said.

HelpAroundTown is a website where individuals can post small jobs they need to be done. Posts include a range of jobs from babysitting, to moving a couch within a home, to tutoring. It originally started just in the town of Lexington, and now it has expanded to 150 cities and towns throughout the Bay State, according to Yared.

After the work has been done, the person gets rated and then recommended. She said it is a reputation builder.

“We designed it to help teenagers find work and launch their careers,’’ she said. “They can search jobs and they can sign up and get free notifications of job alerts customized to their work. If you don’t drive and want it a mile from you house, we really, really make it easy.’’

Though HelpAroundTown was originally created just for teens, Yared said there are now stay-at-home moms, empty nesters, and young retirees taking jobs. Business owners and non-profits now post jobs as well, not just individuals.

“[It’s for] people who cannot or will not commit to a full time job, but still have time available,’’ Yared said.

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