Come the first snowfall in January, the South Boston Snow Angels expect to be ready to help shovel out their neighbors’ homes.
The Catholic Charities of Boston’s Labouré Center announced the launching of the service, set to begin next month, at a press conference Sunday morning at the center. Jacob Bombard, director of the Labouré Center, said he hopes to recruit at least 70 volunteer “snow angels” by the end of the season.
“We will provide volunteers with a snow shovel and with snow melt, and we will pair them with a local elder or disabled resident,” said Bombard. “When the forecast says, 3 inches of snow or more, it’ll be their job to go shovel that residence.”
Seniors also will be provided with free rock salt to melt black ice, Bombard said.
Volunteers must live in South Boston. The goal is to have one volunteer for every block in the neighborhood. Volunteer captains will oversee 10-block zones and work with Labouré Center staff to make sure the volunteers reach all their designated homes.
To qualify for a visit from a snow angel, a person must be 65 years or older or have a physical disability.
The snow angels service was the center’s response to the city’s “Age-Friendly Boston Action Plan 2017” put forth by the Mayor’s Commission on Affairs of the Elderly in May, Bombard said.
The plan, a blueprint to make Boston a better place to live for older adults within three years, outlines 75 proposals on issues such as housing, transportation, and social isolation, created after gathering input from more than 4,000 older Boston residents.
The Snow Angel program seeks to support isolated frail and disabled residents by creating opportunities for neighbors to meet and connect.
The volunteers could help prevent falls on ice, back injuries, and serious muscle strains for seniors or disabled residents attempting to remove snow themselves.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who attended the press conference, said Bombard knew about the high volume of calls the city receives every winter from residents asking for someone to shovel their sidewalks.
“You don’t want someone who’s older out in the street shoveling snow. They can get hurt,” Walsh said outside the Labouré Center. “I commend Labouré for putting this together.”Cristela Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @CristelaGuerra.