Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Snow Angels pave the way

A snowy day like today provides the perfect opportunity to recognize some of Calgary's Snow Angels that volunteer their time to help those in need throughout the city.

Snow Angels glowed with kindness, compassion and community spirit at the 2011/2012 Snow Angels Launch at the Kerby Centre for Seniors in late November.

Al, dignified Snow Angel and neighbour
Al (shown in the picture to the left) had cancer in 1991 and lost his oesophagus, lung and half his stomach. He was unable to shovel the snow at his home during that time and was appreciative when his neighbours jumped into action to help him. Al recovered by 1996, the year he purchased his first snow blower. Now, Al is a Snow Angel for 24 houses and has been removing snow for his neighbours for over 10 years. When asked why he is a Snow Angel, he cheerily replied, “Because I love it!”

Les shovels the snow for his 90-year-old neighbour, knowing that without his help she would be unable to live in her deeply-rooted home. When asked why he is a Snow Angel, he laughed heartily and said, “Because in another 10 years I will need someone to shovel my walk.”

The Snow Angels program was launched in 2004 by Community Neighbourhood Services, Senior Services Division, and began as a social experiment. It started with the belief that Calgarians are inherently good people and want to help. The progam encourages citizens to help out their neighbours who may not be able to shovel their own sidewalks. It also allows those that have been helped to recognize their Snow Angels.

Calgary was the first municipality to begin a program like this and is celebrating its ninth season. Since then, over 20 municipalities across Canada have developed their own Snow Angels program. “This program is a win-win for Calgary,” said Rick Kanik, The City’s Senior Services Manager. “Sidewalks are cleared and safe, older adults are not put at risk undertaking activities which may harm them, and those who help out are recognized for their efforts.”

Since the Snow Angels program began, The City has received 3,700 recognition requests and has distributed 5,100 Snow Angels pins. According to the 2011 Civic Census report there are 106,515 Calgarians over the age of 65, and this is growing. As the population of older adults continues to grow its even more important that icy sidewalks are looked after.

The Snow Angels program helps to promote community and helpfulness amongst neighbours and it meets the 2012 – 2014 business plan objective to maintain or enhance prevention and harm reduction programs that address the root causes of public safety issues.

Submitted by Carissa Vescio

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