Already the end of April, Highland Park citizens are just now beginning to recover from a long and cold winter.
Throughout the past snowy months, many of us had to wake up early every day to shovel snow simply to exit our driveways. For many in our city, the snow shoveling throughout winter was not just an inconvenience, but a potentially fatal danger.
At Monday night's City Council meeting, I will present my program to connect the elderly and disabled persons in need of snow shoveling with capable and willing volunteers.
What many of us view to be a minor chore is, for some, a major struggle that can cause serious physical risks. P.J. Skillet of Harvard Medical School calls snow shoveling "a known trigger for heart attacks." The cold weather doesn't help, he adds, as "it can boost blood pressure, interrupt blood flow to part of the heart and make blood more likely to form clots."
For the able-bodied and healthy of Highland Park, snow shoveling is a manageable if strenuous physical activity no more difficult than high-intensity exercise. But we can't expect those who struggle with snow shoveling and at risk of suffering injury or heart problems to shovel their snow on their own.
After calling the Senior Center to volunteer shoveling on the day of the largest snowfall of the winter, I found that, although the City of Highland Park has many great programs, it did not have a program in place to coordinate aid for those who need shoveling assistance. My program serves to fill this gap in volunteer efforts.
By distributing forms to both volunteers and the elderly or disabled persons using a wide range of media, the city gains the data it needs for coordination both a pool of charitable volunteers and the knowledge of exactly who needs this shoveling the most. It's similar to a program the City of Evanston has in place. A single person could handle the matching of these givers and recipients of volunteer work. That person will be me until I leave for college, at which point I hope to give the duty to a Highland Park High School student, as I am now.
Highland Park already has willing volunteers, and the tools to reach those who need shoveling aid the most. This program brings both sides of the equation together in an inexpensive and efficient way to benefit the community for a problem we face every year.