of the services it provides is snow and leaf removal, but volunteers— and specifically, teenaged volunteers— are needed to make this initiative a success.
Two employees from the Town recently asked a group of pastors and ministry leaders meeting regularly in Beamsville, to help raise awareness of the programme to its representative churches.
Laura Ecker and Greg Hilts visited the pastoral gathering after approaching local schools left them still in need of volunteers for the programme, which is new to Beamsville, but has been in operation in other Niagara communities for at least six years.
“We haven't had much success to date,” Laura said at the meeting. “We've been advertising it in the paper, we’ve had our brochures out, and we’ve been to the schools.
“The schools are a bit hesitant to really promote it, just because they're not really controlling it. So we are just trying to get the word out, to anyone you know. It's a really great way for teens to get some community service hours, and just to help out in the community.”
Prospective volunteers would go through a training and orientation process where they would get a rundown of various safety procedures. They would then be paired up with a senior for the entire winter season, chosen from a computer database. Volunteers would be matched with someone as close to their homes as possible.
The goal of the project is to have snow cleared from walkways at the earliest possible moment. However Laura, referring to CSSN point person Laurie Elliott Leach, said, “She
understands that some volunteers probably would not be able to go until after dinner time, but we like to say within the 24 hours after the snowfall, just because it's safe, but also because the Town does have a bylaw that the sidewalks have to be cleared (by that time).
If the programme goes well, expansion to leaf removal next fall would be a possibility. The volunteer can decide if they would like to continue helping in that capacity with the senior.
Many of the benefits for volunteers would include work going towards community hours (for teens), development of communication skills, building of their self-esteem, meeting new people, and knowing that they are making a difference in their community. From a Christian perspective, it offers an opportunity to be a blessing to others.
According to information on the CSSN website, one in three seniors fall each year. Seniors also injured at home more than any other location.
The two employees came to the ministry collective for another reason as well. According to Greg, Lincoln mayor Sandra Easton told them to approach the group after the area schools didn’t offer the level of commitment they were hoping for. “The mayor put us in your direction. She really wanted us to focus on youth. That was a big stressor for her. She wanted us to reach out, and that's why we're here. She’s really pushing it.”
“The mayor is very passionate about this,” Laura added, “so I know that she's really big on getting you involved. It’s a priority for her.”
Greg commented on the lack of enthusiasm from the local schools. “For the most part, the schools— where you’d think that since their kids have to put in 40 hours of community service, they’d be pushing something like this, because it's relatively easy— they're not pushing it at all. We went to the school and presented it just the way we are right now, and provided pamphlets and information.”
Laura was able to see to an extent why the schools have shown reluctance. “They're just not big on pushing it because they don't want the kids be alone with one person. They just don't want to really promote it because they can't monitor it.”
But Noel Walker, pastor of Tintern Church of Christ, did not share that concern. “Each of the people involved is vetted through Community support services, each of the kids is themselves vetted. The risk factor it Is way low.
“I think it's a great, great program, and a great opportunity for kids to get to know people in the neighbourhood. I got our youth group at the church where I’m at, and I can share this with them, and channel people through to Laurie.”
Erik Burdan of Tree of Life Church in Smithville agreed. “I think it's a simple program, and a great way to get kids to serve.”
Laura stressed that since one volunteer (or a volunteer and friend/ relative) would be assigned to one house for the duration of the winter, long lasting relationships can be built. “If it works in the winter, they can go back and rake leaves in the fall. I would hope that they would build a connection.”
Anyone interested in volunteering, getting more information, or even joining the list of recipients of this programme, can cal Laurie at (905) 682-3800, ext. 28, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information, as well as registration forms, can also be found on the Snow Buddies page, on the CSSN website.
Greg Hilts (l) and Laura Ecker of the Town of Lincoln.
"It's a really great way for teens to get some community service hours, and just to help out in the community." (Laura Ecker)
Town of Lincoln asking area churches to join them in serving seniors
Promoting God's work, sharing God's resources
Church youth groups in the Beamsville area have an opportunity to partner
with the Town of Lincoln and serve its senior population, through the Community Support Services of Niagara’s Leaf and Snow Buddies Programme.
This is a programme offered by CSSN, a volunteer-based not-for-profit agency that, according its website, provides “comprehensive client-driven community support services to help seniors and adults with disabilities live independently in their own homes.” One
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