If you have a few hours, a shovel, and some muscle power to lend, there are residents in Chilliwack who would call you an angel.
So many people are still snowed in, and will be for days on end yet, after a heavy dump of snow and ice over the weekend. Chilliwack’s Snow Angel program, run by the Chilliwack And District Seniors’ Resource Society, connects seniors who need driveways and walkways cleared, with people who have the time and energy to spare.
But when big storms like this come through, there is always a shortage of volunteers, for numerous reasons. Right now, there is a long list of seniors who need their walkways cleared so home care can access their front doors to provide care, or a driveway cleared so they can get out of the house and get to the doctor or grocery store.
Volunteering doesn’t mean signing up for a season of servitude, says Coletta Holmes. She says anyone with a few hours to spare can call her up at the society and they can talk about the details from there.
“Volunteers for the program are not ‘vetted’ per se,” she says. “Therefore we urge clients not to invite people into their homes or exchange telephone numbers. We don’t have concerns about our volunteers but we do want clients and volunteers to have good boundaries so that neither feels an obligation from the program.”
The program is just one way people can reach out and help others in the midst of this winter storm fallout. Being a pedestrian is difficult if not impossible for parents who rely on strollers, for those who use walkers, scooters and other mobility aids, and for those in wheelchairs. Connecting with your neighbours by simply asking if they need a jug of milk, a loaf of bread, or other essentials to get through the day.
“Just say ‘I’m just checking up on you and I’m on the way to the grocery store, do you need anything?'” she says.
Obviously you should never let anyone in your house if you don’t know them, and while there is reason to be cautious and aware, there are also people out there trying to make a small difference. Holmes hopes more people will go out of their way to help everyone make it through this winter wallop a little safer.
“If you see someone elderly getting out of their car or crossing an icy street, offer them an elbow,” she says. “If you’re in a vehicle, you are already safer, warmer drier than the person on the street, so stop and stop in such way they can cross safely. Stay away from the sides of the road so you aren’t spraying people.”
It’s dangerous out there for pedestrians, she says, with sidewalks rarely and barely cleared. That leaves those brave souls who venture out sometimes hopping into the street over snowbanks to cross the road, or forced off the sidewalk when there is no clear path. Of course, a few extra snow angels could help with that, too.
Interested ‘snow angels’ can call Holmes at 604-793-9979 with their name and contact information, preferred area of work and availability.