Youth help seniors stay safe in winter

Austin Trohan of Red Deer has been shovelling snow for seniors for the last two years.

Austin Trohan of Red Deer has been shovelling snow for seniors for the last two years.

The energetic 16 year-old said it’s about “doing good deeds for others” and is also an opportunity to save some cash for a car of his own one day.

“When I get to be that age, I hope there’s someone around to shovel my drive,” said the Hunting Hills High School student.

Trohan heard about the Golden Circle Senior Resource Centre’s YES (Youth Enabling seniors) program, which bolsters snow removal services for seniors, through his mother, Christina.

Last year he had seven clients. This year he has 11 and is expecting a few more as winter kicks into high gear.

“November has been a good month. . . I have a few hundred saved up. I call them up even if there’s only a couple inches that’s fallen, because it can freeze over and be icy.

“They all really appreciate it . . . I spent a couple hours chipping away at the ice on one driveway and the couple were really impressed and happy with the job.”

The YES program, now in its second year, helps ensure Red Deer seniors who want and need help clearing their walkways and driveways get just that.

The Golden Circle has been able to stay on top of snow removal for seniors through adult volunteers and the YES program but executive director Monica Morrison said they could always use more hands.

“We’re continuously recruiting snow shovellers,” Morrison said. “It’s always a challenge finding people; it’s supply and demand.”

So far all 220 seniors on the list have been matched through the Golden Circle with a snow shoveller.

“But when people start hearing about snow storms coming, the phones start ringing again.

“That happened during the last snowstorm and the people stepped up and made themselves available,” Morrison said.

YES took over from the previous Snow Angels program, which was in partnership with the city and encouraged citizens to keep sidewalks ice and snow free for seniors.

Morrison said Snow Angels “just wasn’t working.”

With YES, the youth can choose to either volunteer their time or opt to be paid by the clients for $15 an hour.

“It’s not all volunteer based.

“In fact, it’s minimal volunteer. It’s more about having an opportunity to make some money while doing good for the community at the same time. We do also provide subsidies for snow shovelling for those clients who are eligible.”

This year, Red Deer College students have also been recruited into the YES program, Morrison noted, taking off some pressure.

“It’s also creating opportunities for employment agencies and people with special needs. We’ve been able to hook up with some local high schools and their special needs classes. People can be independent, provide a service to the community and make some money.

“It’s a win-win situation all around.”

For Trohan, it’s a great part-time job but he said he couldn’t do half of the work if it wasn’t for his father, Corey, who drives with him to the clients’ houses and helps out shovelling here and there.

“We do it together and have fun. It’s about helping others out and a great way to instill the value of hard work in him,” Corey said. “We want the seniors in our community to be safe, too. Ice and heavy, uneven snow piled up can lead to slipping and broken bones.”

rfrancoeur@bprda.wpengine.com