Angels have been spotted in Porter Creek. But these heavenly creatures wear mittens instead of halos and carry snow shovels in place of harps.
The Porter Creek Community Association and the city have recently started a Snow Angels program for the neighbourhood. The program is a way to recognize volunteers who shovel driveways and lanes for people who can’t do it on their own, often because of age or disability.
“It’s just a nice way to get recognition for being a Good Samaritan,” said Jeff Marynowski, president of the Porter Creek Community Association. If a Porter Creek resident has had someone removing snow for them, they can have that person formally recognized as a snow angel.
At the end of the winter, their snow angel will receive a lapel pin. Whitehorse’s pins are shaped as horses, complete with a halo, wings, and a shovel between the hooves. In the future, businesses may donate items, like gift cards or actual shovels, for the angels, said Marynowski.
The program is just getting started. But the idea has been floating around for the past couple of years, said Douglas Hnatiuk, the acting director of community and recreation services for the city. It was suggested by the Porter Creek Community Association through the Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee. The city has helped make the posters and purchase the pins, but the community association administers the program, he said.
The first Snow Angels program began in Calgary, Alta., where it is now in its 10th season. There have been over 3,700 requests for recognition in the city since 2004, with over 5,000 pins handed out. Similar programs can be found across the country.
Jenny Roberts has wanted it to come to Whitehorse for a few years. If the Porter Creek resident wasn’t living in an apartment, she would need someone to remove snow for her.
Under city bylaws, snow and ice have to be removed from around residential properties within 48 hours of the snowfall. The city also offers snow removal for people who have a disability that keeps them from removing the snow themselves or are over 65 and don’t live with anyone who is younger or able to remove the snow.
Roberts has multiple sclerosis, and that can make keeping her balance difficult, especially when it’s slippery outside. After her neighbours saw her trudging through the snow in high heels last month, she woke up the following morning to find her pathway cleared in front of her door.
So, in some ways, she already has an angel, she said.
She hopes the program continues to grow “because I know how many people can benefit with it,” Roberts said.
While it’s not the program’s goal to gather volunteers, campaigns in high schools are being planned, said Marynowski.
If it all goes well, the angels may take flight in other neighbourhoods next year, said Hnatiuk. Information will be given to other interested community associations. They can decide if they want to start their own program. The city will help facilitate the program, but the community associations will be the main point of contact, he said.
While the initiative may be new for Whitehorse, it’s really about returning to old-fashioned values, said Marynowski.
“We’re going back to where we help out one another. We don’t have to get paid for everything that we do.”
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