GRAND FALLS-WINDSRO, NL – There’s no time like Christmas to help others.
But why stop there?
Grand Falls-Windsor’s André Pardy is hoping awareness will help build a new Snow Angels initiative in the community and encourage neighbours to help each other all winter long.
“The program is to create awareness around the need for people to help seniors and people with disabilities to shovel their snow because they can’t, or for some reason they can’t keep up with the cost (of snow clearing),” Pardy said.
People can nominate Snow Angels who help them with snow clearing, and their names will be entered in bi-monthly draws for prizes throughout the season, culminating in May with one grand prize winner.
The first draw will take place Dec. 28.
Pardy first heard of the Snow Angels concept when he was doing a social work degree in Calgary and the city was looking at elder-friendly communities.
The program started in 2004, and Pardy said since then there have been 8,500 Snow Angels nominated in Calgary.
The idea of starting a Snow Angels initiative in Grand Falls-Windsor came about a couple of years ago.
“Being off work and looking for something to volunteer to do, I found there wasn’t a lot of things out there for me to do with my disabilities,” Pardy said.
Six years ago, Pardy developed Rhabdomyolysis, a condition where damaged muscles break down; in his case, muscle weakness developed to a point where his right leg had to be amputated. He also wears an orthotic on his left leg.
The Snow Angels idea came back to him last winter when his neighbour shovelled his snow every morning.
“To me that’s the ideal definition of a Snow Angel,” he said. “I never asked them. I never paid them. I thanked them.”
The idea really started to become a reality this past August when Pardy asked his daughters – Shirléah, 13, and Nichola, nine – to draw a snow angel. He said both did a fantastic job, and it sparked an interest in Snow Angels again, especially the one drawn by his oldest, who used a shovel as a halo.
According to the GFW Snow Angels 2018 Facebook page, its mission statement is: “Be a Snow Angel. Help a Neighbour.”
The group’s goals are:
1. To increase awareness of the Snow Angels initiative in our community.
2. To increase the number of Snow Angels in GFW starting this winter.
3. To promote health and healthy relationships that can come out of Snow Angels in neighborhoods.
He approached some business people, and most were on board to sponsor the initiative.
“Overwhelming support,” he said, adding prizes for nominees have been donated by local businesses.
He also did a test run around town, and 15 people out of 20 he spoke to said they not only take care of their own driveways, but three or four others.
“That to me is ideal Snow Angels,” Pardy said.
He promoted Snow Angels in schools in hopes children will start young and spread the word with parents and guardians. He also had contests in schools to get children involved.
Now in the early stages, it’s about getting the word out, with a goal of increasing the number of Snow Angels working around town.
“Creating awareness is key to making this initiative grow,” Pardy said. “It’s important to be a Snow Angel and help a neighbour in their community.”
His children have been a huge help in getting this initiative off the ground, helping make shirts for the parade, decorating the van, putting posters in stores and helping in any way they can.
The excitement of parade was a highlight for both girls, and they liked seeing people they knew along the route.
“The Snow Angels wouldn’t be where it’s to without them,” Pardy said.
“They are happy to be part of it.”
“It’s a good thing that it’s going somewhere,” Shirléah said. “It’s an idea that’s coming to reality.”
Visit GFW Snow Angel 2018 on Facebook and send a message to nominate a Snow Angel or for more information, or @gfwsnowangel2018 to nominate.