Neighbours helping neighbours ‘plow it forward’

By Janessa Hynes

People in the South Shore area are helping remove one of the obstacles that make it difficult for some seniors living at home -- snow removal. 

The South Shore has a strong tradition of neighbours helping neighbours, which is how the Helping Hands Network was formed. This network, made up of non-profits on the South Shore, is committed to finding ways to help seniors stay in their homes longer.

Michael Graves, co-ordinator from Lunenburg County United Way, says some seniors living at home lack the ability to perform simple household chores such as stacking firewood, doing yard work, grocery shopping and snow removal. From this came the idea of “Plow it Forward.”

“It’s an adaptation from the Pay it Forward movement,” says Graves. “The purpose of the Plow it Forward campaign is to engage people and encourage them to interact with, get to know and help their neighbours in need.” 

Under the program, volunteers offer their time to clear the driveways and walkways of those who can't do it themselves.  Seniors or people with physical disabilities or health issues who have to clear their own snow often put themselves at serious health risks including heart attacks and strokes.

“Choosing to adopt an elderly neighbour and make a volunteer commitment to clear their snow this winter could decrease those chances,” says Graves.

Because of limited financial and staff resources, the program is designed to be self-supporting. Citizens are encouraged to look around their neighbourhood, determine a neighbour in need and lend a helping hand.

This program is not meant to replace businesses that are currently providing snow clearing for a fee, but instead, build relationships within a neighbourhood. With positive relationships established in a community, new friendships are formed and willingness to help is increased.

 “A safe and supportive community is everyone’s responsibility. We instinctively want this for our family and strive to live in communities that embrace it,” says Graves. “But in order to live in a safe and supportive community, we all have to do our part.”

If you are a senior or someone with a disability in the South Shore area and there is  no one in your neighbourhood who can help you clear snow this winter, or you wish to volunteer for the “on call” list, then please register with Stay at Home Care by calling 902-543-1727. Unfortunately, not all requests for help can be supported.