Serving Southwest Michigan

(269) 720-7605

Serving Southwest Michigan

(269) 720-7605

December 21, 2014



I’ve heard each of these a million times since November 1:

“I need a wife.”

“I need to clone myself.”

“I need a driver.”

Guess what? You can have all of those things, and for a lot less money than the others would cost. Anything you can think of, you can hire out. I mean, just about anything … keep it legal, folks!

Recently, I met with Cathi Bingaman, owner of In Sync With You, a company specializing in personal assistance and concierge services. She promises to “take the hectic out of your life,” and after chatting with her, I do believe she can do just that.

We focused our conversation on the holidays, but there are so many ways to use this service all the time. But first things first: here are some holiday chores that you can cross off your list and give to someone else, namely your personal concierge:

1. Holiday decorating

Holiday decorating is a chore, for sure. Hire someone else to do it: to decorate your house and your tree, hang your garlands and do the lights outside. Imagine coming home to a completely decorated house! Also, something to consider for those of us with aging parents, hire someone to do the decorating in their home, so that they don’t have to.

Holiday Tasks you can hire out

Beautiful wreath and garland, hung with care by … a concierge!

2. Holiday card writing and mailing

Give someone your list and have them stuff, address and mail all of your holiday cards for you. That’s hours of mindless work you’ll save yourself. Now if they could just get the perfect picture with all your family smiling, that would be even better!

Holiday Tasks you can hire out

Holiday address stamp? You won’t have to mess with this ever again.

3. Party invitations

Having a holiday open house? Give someone your list and have them do the invitations and mail them out. So much better than an eVite.

4. Gift buying

You can delegate all of your holiday gift buying to a personal concierge, especially if you give someone else your guided list of preferences. This is another service that is especially helpful with aging parents.

5. Gift wrapping

How does one find the time to wrap gifts for others, when those “others” are around all the time? It’s called zero dark thirty, and that’s usually me in the corner of a locked room blazing through tons of gifts. How about you get someone else to wrap those gifts off site and then deliver them back to you when they are done?

Holiday Tasks you can hire out

We love creative wrapping!

6. Hotel reservations

Go the extra mile and offer to make hotel reservations for friends and family coming in for the holidays. Your concierge can do that for you, and they can even get a special “home for the holidays” welcome gift placed in their rooms. Rental cars and other scheduling for your guests can be done, too.

7. Coordinating activities for guests

What are you going to do with your holiday guests from out of town? Get someone else to plan their day, whether it be a sightseeing trip of Louisville or a trip to the distillery. You don’t have to be the entertainment coordinator here.

8. Gift research

Looking for the perfect gift for your friends and family? Write down their preferences and send someone else on the hunt for the gift. They can come back to you with the options, and then you choose from the comfort of your smartphone or computer. Get the gift wrapped and mailed or delivered.

sb holiday candles

Everybody loves a candle.

9. Teacher gifts

Looking for 20 gifts that are all under $20 for all the great teachers in your life?  Send someone else on that mission. Get them wrapped and ready to be delivered to your favorite teachers.

10. Employee gifts

Whether looking to do individual gifts for your employees or basic uniform gifts, state your preferences and get someone else to take care of it.  They can be wrapped and delivered or mailed.

Holiday Tasks you can hire out

Ornaments, centerpieces and little keepsakes are all great gifts for teachers and employees.

11. Meal plan

Whether you are cooking or picking up food for holiday meals, you can no doubt use assistance. Have someone get groceries or order and pick up desserts or plan for an entire meal through carryout and get them to deliver it to your house before the party.

Holiday Tasks you can hire out

Holiday dinner, done

12. Stock the fridge, pantry and bar

Sounds mundane, but going to the grocery store is such a time drain. Give someone your list and have them stock your fridge, pantry or bar (or all of the above).

sb concierge simple decor

Fresh produce can double as a centerpiece, along with fresh sprigs in a planter. Thank you, Someone Else!

13. Basic maintenance

The holidays are always a time when we pay more attention to the state of our house. Getting your carpets cleaned, touch up painting and basic fixes are all great things to hire out to trusted, recommended vendors. Consider your “honey-do” list done.

14. Basic errands

Pick up the dry-cleaning. Pick up your prescriptions. Return that sweater. The list is endless, and someone else can be running all those errands for you.


Tools of the trade, belonging to someone else

15. House and pet sitting

Going away for the holidays? Need someone to watch your house or take care of your pets? Hire someone from a trusted source and enjoy your vacation. Or if you’re simply not going to be home after work most of the month thanks to your super-booked social calendar, have someone come whenever your animals need a potty break and enjoy an accident-free home when you return.

Holiday Tasks you can hire out

“Please let me out!”

16. Wait services

It is inevitable that something breaks during the holidays. Who has time to go home and wait for the three-hour service window for this to be fixed? Someone else does. Let them wait at your house, so that you don’t have to.

17. Babysitting

A good babysitter is hard to find, especially during this busy party season. Hire a trusted sitter, and enjoy your evening away from the kiddos.


Wondering what all this help is going to cost you? Not much, considering the time you will save.

Bingaman’s initial consultation is free; this is your time to discuss exactly what you need. After you decide what services you need, the cost is $35 an hour, with a 30-minute minimum, which covers the concierge time; you pay for the purchases - gifts, food etc. - that they pick up. And if you need to hire a vendor, such as a plumber, a carpet cleaner, even a babysitter, you will still pay the $35 (or less if it takes less time to arrange) as a “finder’s fee.” In Sync has a list of trusted, vetted vendors that they work with. What you pay for is peace of mind and the tremendous convenience of not having to do the research and find the vendors.

There are also opportunities to purchase a block of hours. If you purchase more than four hours at a time, you will receive a discounted rate.


For more information and to contact In Sync with You, visit


Is $35 worth your sanity? Yes, I believe it is! Alleluia!


December 06, 2014

Tonight while I was driving to a client's home to care for my four-legged clients...I found myself admiring all the homes that had decorated in their subdivision.  It brought back fond childhood memories of Christmas for me.  We lived in the southwest suburbs of Chicago.  Back in the day, people really used to decorate their homes and yards with awe-inspriing decor.  After dinner on Christmas Eve, my father would take the younger children for a ride to go drive through the highly decorated areas.  Upon our return to the house, Santa would arrive shortly afterwards.  Since our home was by far the largest with 13 kids...Christmas was always at our house.  Seriously....none of the other family members had homes to fit us all.  And so it was that we always had a very exciting Christmas celebration at our house.  Our tree was always seemed like it was 10 feet tall but I don't know if that is accurate.  I know the tree was so big, it had to be tied to the curtain rods for extra support.

Around 10 pm, one brother, one sister and I would head up to St. Michael's Church in Orland Park for midnight mass.  We were in the choir and a pretty cool one at that.  It was led by our wonderful choir director, Ken Steinbacher.  We even made a Christmas record one year.  I'm listening to the music right now as I type.  Special memories indeed.

May your Christmas be Merry and Bright!


A Single Ray of Hope celebrates 16 years of being in business in July 2022!  How is this even possible? It is an amazing milestone for me and I am extremely proud and a veteran and woman-owned business.

Where did the idea come from to open a Concierge Service in Portage, Michigan? Well, myself and two dear friends would gather over frozen strawberry dacquiri's and making jewelry while brainstorming businesses to go into. My friends chose other routes and were equally as successful in their career paths, while I pursued opening A Single Ray of Hope's Personal Assistant & Concierge Service. 

Still today, I love being of service to people. I am blessed to meet and work for a wide variety of clients. Individuals of all walks of life....some working professionals both with and without families, retired seniors and their adult children, various businesses and more. I love getting to know people and hearing about their fascinating lives. My reward is knowing that my service is giving them the ability to focus on what is most important to them. It's about the value of time and how they choose to spend it while handing of their TO DO List to a trusted business.

I started my business as a way of giving back to others. My youngest son has special needs and many family and friends helped guide us over the years, providing respite, words of encouragement, providing helpful information of where to go for services and assistance. The takes a village is true. Others helped us and I wanted to help others in return.

Another reason for my business is I saw my mother who raised thirteen children end up struggling later in life with Alzheimers. I'd visit her in her nursing home and this really how life should be for a women who worked so hard to put her children through catholic school by donating her artistic time & talents, staying up late at night just to have a little peace & quiet, stretching a dollar beyond belief, and raising a good family? Mom's put themselves last, we do it willingly but in the end, we are doing a dis-service to ourselves and our families. I thought life shouldn't have to be this hard. How about a providing a service so that people could enjoy life more instead of running in a hundred directions?

Many times, I don't see a lot of my clients....I'm in and out of their home during the day while they are at work. Shopping is done, errands done, dry cleaning is hanging in their closet, meals prepped or cooked, prescriptions picked up, library books returned, service people have been to the home such as plumbers, etc. My business gives my clients some breathing room and that is how life should be lived. 

You get the picture. It's about work life balance and peace of mind....for both myself and my clients.  Life is short....take time to smell the flowers.