BY SABINE PETERKA —
This winter, the Senior Resource Center worked to connect the elderly to students or adults to help them shovel their snow.
“Every year, older or disabled residents contact the Senior Resource Center because they have trouble removing the snow,” said Elizabeth Price, coordinator and Senior Resource Center director. “We maintain a list of people who are willing to shovel for money, and we keep their address and when somebody calls in, we will give them the name of someone who’s within six blocks of them.”
Price said companies that offer shoveling services are often unaffordable or inflexible, so she put a request for shoveling help in the January school bulletin email.
“Every year, we recruit at the spring and the fall yard clean-up day. This year nobody signed up at the fall-yard clean-up day so that’s why I sent out that email to recruit, and that actually was more effective,” Price said.
The email resulted in seven students and two adults volunteering to shovel when needed. Some people arrange shoveling help ahead of time while others call the Senior Center looking for assistance when it starts snowing.
Judy Olson, resident, started looking for shoveling assistance in November and this was her first time coordinating for it through the Senior Center.
“We’ve contacted different people in a whole variety of different ways and we had a lot of trouble with people not being reliable, not showing up and that sort of thing. So I thought, well this time we’ll give it a try through the senior center and see if there’s anybody available,” Olson said.
Price connected Olson with a student.
“As it turned out – I was very impressed – when we had that big snowstorm [the student] was not at home; he was at his grandmother’s, and his brother and his friends came over and [shoveled] for us so it was awfully nice. So we got it all done in a timely way, and they did a good job,” Olson said.
If snow is not shoveled after 24 hours, Shorewood sends people to remove it, but at a high price. Paying a student to shovel can be cheaper.
“I think that Shorewood is lucky that [the elderly] feel like they have a place to call where they can try to get support,” Price said. “I think that they feel more connected that way, and I do think they feel more connected if they get linked with a student.”
Price said the system has potential to build relationships across generations.
“It helps out the elderly just by doing something that they can’t and you learn a lot from them,” said Antonio Chappa, sophomore. “One of them was born in Iraq and it was interesting to hear about his story and how he came to America and how he felt about our American relationships with Iraq.”
Chappa found out about this opportunity through a friend and signed up to shovel.
“It’s a great way to make money and you feel good about yourself afterwards,” Chappa said.