January 09, 2013 - For many, shoveling a sidewalk is a mere inconvenience, but for others it is an impossibility.
From left, Lois Seddon, Patty Collins, Carolyn Morrison, and Barbara Rollin are eager to expand the centerís chore service program. Photo by Mary Keck (click for larger version)
"As people get older, it's physically strenuous to shovel or plow," said Senior Coordinator Patty Collins.
Collins, who organizes a new Chore Program for the Independence Township Senior Center, said snow removal is particularly important for seniors.
"It's a safety issue," she explained.
If roads and driveways are not plowed, emergency vehicles can't access homes, and seniors with lower incomes can't afford to pay for plow service. Also, some may not have family or neighbors nearby who can help.
With the aid of the Senior Center's Chore Service program, seven seniors in Clarkston and Independence Township had plowed driveways and salted sidewalks after the flakes started accumulating on Dec. 26.
"I don't know what I would do," said Lee Wooley, who is 83 years old and legally blind.
Wooley has lived in her Independence Township home for 50 years.
"I used to shovel when I was younger," she said and remembered making a game of shoveling the snow with her five children.
Now that Wooley's children have grown up and no longer live in Michigan, "either I have to do it or have someone help me," she said. "I'm here all by myself."
Because of Wooley's visual impairment, she cannot drive and relies on the Senior Center for transportation. If her driveway isn't plowed, their SMART Van can't get through.
"I'm unable to go to the doctor or the store," she said. "I really am in need of help."
Thanks to the Senior Center's Chore Service program, Wooley won't be snowbound this winter.
"I think the Senior Center is doing a marvelous job of helping us," she said.
The Senior Center's chore program was made possible by a grant from the Friends of the Senior Adult Activity Center (SAAC).
"Our goal is to help the fifty-plus community," said Friend of SAAC Carolyn Morrison.
Whether it's plowing, salting, or shoveling, "we're trying to help the people who need it most," said Senior Center Coordinator Barbara Rollin.
$4,000 of the grant was used for the Chore Service Program, which provides snow removal aid to seniors.
"There's a huge need for that," Collins said.
Seniors don't only benefit from the Chore Service in the winter, though.
"Snow removal is just a piece," Collins pointed out.
Home maintenance, fall leaf disposal, transportation, and visiting with seniors are other ways volunteers and funds from the Chore Service support those in need.
"We focus on low-income seniors," said Collins.
While the Senior Center would like to do more, "we have limited resources," she noted.
The Senior Center is reaching out to Interfaith Caregivers who match volunteers with seniors to help meet their individual needs.
"We would like to expand the program, but that depends on participation from the community and recommendations from the Senior Center," said Lois Seddon, a Friend of the SAAC.
Residents interested in volunteering to help with snow removal or who wish to donate to support the Chore Service program can call the Senior Center at 248-625-8231.
Clarkston News reporter