City calls for volunteer snow angels

Residents needed for seniors’ snow clearing program

By CAROL CHRISTIAN, Connect Weekly

They don’t have wings, but they do have snow shovels and ice scrapers. These are the necessary tools of the trade to keep up with Old Man Winter, clearing walkways and driveways clear of snow for local seniors. The annual Wood Buffalo Snow Angels volunteer program is underway, but could still use more volunteer angels.

Currently, the program has close to 60 senior homes across Fort McMurray registered for the program with a few still in need of assistance, according to Nicole Martyn-Dickinson, program co-ordinator for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

The volunteer snow shoveling service is intended for local seniors’ aged 65 years and older, on limited fixed incomes with no or limited human resources available to them; such as, adult children, grandchildren, friends, family or neighbours capable and willing to help.

Those who volunteer for the program, are assigned a house for the season.

“When people sign up they tell us what area they live in and we try to match them up with somebody that needs their help close to their neighbourhood,” explains Martyn-Dickinson. “We ask them to try and make it over there within 48 hours of a snowfall.”

“When people sign up they tell us what area they live in and we try to match them up with somebody that needs their help close to their neighbourhood,” explains Martyn-Dickinson. “We ask them to try and make it over there within 48 hours of a snowfall.”

When a match is made, Martyn-Dickinson drops by to visit the senior with a couple of shovels and an ice scraper, which are left at the home. Volunteers also visit and introduce themselves, and go over details of where the snow removal equipment will be kept.

“For the most part, they love the program; we get a lot of positive feedback. They’re very appreciative,” she says of seniors’ response to the program.

The program began as a partnership with the municipality and the Fort McMurray Public School District in 2009. It was a pilot project in the downtown core originally using students from Dr. K. A. Clark and Fort McMurray Composite High School.

The program has been expanded to include the whole urban service area of Fort McMurray. In order to broaden the scope of the program and its volunteer base, volunteers are now solicited from all school districts, the general community and business, even the Oil Barons.

This change is in line with the vision to make Snow Angels a truly community-based program meeting the needs of a growing number of seniors participating in the program.

Often in years past, adds Martyn-Dickinson, volunteers have had shovels out in October, but this year it wasn’t until November. The Snow Angels are on call, until the last snowfall of the season.

Anyone who wants to volunteer can visit http://www.rmwb.ca/living/Seniors-Program-Development/Snow-Angels-Program/Snow-Angels—Sign-Up.htm. For seniors, visit http://www.rmwb.ca/living/Seniors-Program-Development/Snow-Angels-Program/Seniors—Submit-Service-Request.htm

For more information, contact Martyn-Dickinson at Nicole.Martyn-Dickinson@rmwb.ca

– Connect Weekly –