Business

Girl Fridays: Two personal assistants serve many metro-east clients

When Theresa Raphgeb lost her government job, she went into business for herself serving others.

While working at her previous job, former Illinois Department of Natural Resources employee said she met many people who she felt could use her expertise to get personal tasks done.

"I met people who needed a lot of assistance managing their way through the bureaucracy," Raphgeb said. "I got involved helping them do that. I really loved helping other people get things done, so I started doing that on my own."

That's how she got the idea to establish her own service, Girl Friday-Personal Assistant in Alton. For four years, she has been running errands for metro-east area residents. She especially likes to help take care of clients' pets.

"When people go on vacation, they don't want to put them in a kennel," she said. "I go to their home and take care of the animals and let them out several times a day, feed and water, pet and pay attention to them. They get to stay at home."

Thiah Muhammad also went into the personal errand business. The Chesterfield, Mo., resident established Errands 4 You in February 2008 and serves clients on both sides of the river.

"I came up with the idea out of personal need," Muhammad said. "I was working two jobs, one at night and one in the day, and I was just burned out. One day, I had just pulled up at home and I realized I had no groceries and had not gone to the grocery store to fix dinner for my children. I pulled into the driveway, and I took a deep sigh and said, 'Wow. If only I had some help.' From there, I decided to go ahead and work on a business that not only helped myself but others."

Muhammad will provide transportation through a subcontractor. She will water your plants and drive you to your doctor's appointment.

"Everyone I come in touch with, everyone's lives are busy" she said. "Whether it's a busy executive or if they're an in-the-home mom with three children, they need extra help."

One of her clients is 73-year-old Chesterfield resident Georgia Coy. Muhammad drives Coy to her dialysis appointment on Wednesdays.

"I go to dialysis three days a week," Coy said. "I live in Chesterfield Villas and get a bus ride on Mondays and Fridays."

"When I got pretty sick, my daughter talked me out of driving. So when I looked for (assistance), everything was terribly expensive. There were ones that said we're not taking any clients. They gave me Errands 4 You. (Muhammad) is fairly reasonable with my ride. She is on time and a very sweet person. It's not like getting in a cab and not looking at who's driving and not saying anything. We talk back and forth."

Muhammad does the work herself and is looking to expand her base in metro-east. Although she currently has not clients in Illinois, she has had some in the past.

"We have been working to get more business in Illinois," she said. "It's an area that is really been left untouched. But we do not have much business currently on the Illinois side."

She also said errand service assistance are more common in California and in communities along the east coast.

"The thing about this service is if you go in different cities in California, like San Francisco, and all along the east coast, it's very popular service," she said. "But right here in the center of the country, it's just virtually untouched."

Raphgeb also enjoys working on her own.

"Basically, I like to work," she said. "I keep my client base low, but whenever someone calls me, I say yes. I keep it just myself. I don't want employees because of taxes, and the way the state of Illinois' requirements. It's too much for a small business to have employees who try to keep it small. I like to do a lot of work by word of mouth so I know who your clients are and that they know me."

For more information about Thiah Muhammad's Errands 4 You, call (314) 448-8120 or go online www.errands4you.org.

The phone number for Raphgeb's Girl Friday-Personal Assistant is 462-6750.

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