Sandra Gregory had just returned from volunteering in West Africa. She was planning to spend last week relaxing and had even bought a meditation app. However, that quickly changed when she became a snow angel.
“I can’t go past something where I can help,” said Gregory.
Last week, Gregory noticed an elderly woman hunched over a cane, walking down an icy road in Revelstoke, B.C. It was dark and the temperature was hovering near -20 C. Turns out, the woman’s car was buried under snow. The senior, almost 90-years-old, was forced to walk to her church group meeting at the Big Eddy Pub.
|Snow angels helped to clear snow so a lady heading to surgery wouldn’t have to worry about her windows breaking from snow while in hospital. (Facebook)|
Gregory gave her a ride and listened as the senior told her, ”things that were easy aren’t easy anymore.”
Afterward, Gregory gave the lady her phone number telling her to call if she ever needed help.
Well, the senior gave the number to her friends and Gregory’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing.
“I now live in my snow pants.”
The first call was from an elderly woman worried about her roof collapsing. She had been trying to get help, but couldn’t.
”Now, I’d never shoveled a roof in my life,” Gregory said.
As of Jan. 17, according to data from the City of Revelstoke, 326 cm of snow has fallen on the city since November. The city has already received double last year’s snowfall.
Realizing a need, Gregory created the Facebook group Revelstoke Unstuck to connect volunteers to others in the community that need help. The group has more than 170 members.
“We are here to help when we can, where we can as a community,” reads a post by Gregory describing the page.
Gregory estimates the group has shoveled and cleared at least 15 homes in Revelstoke in the last week.
“I haven’t had a chance to put down my shovel,” said Gregory with a laugh.
She got over 60 messages from people needing help or wanting to help.
“You don’t ignore someone who calls, you just can’t.”
For example, one lady heading to surgery was worried about the snow breaking her windows. So, volunteers came and cleared snow.
“We do shoveling yes, but it’s also about easing the mind,” Gregory said.
|Sophie Salva (left) was snowed in, so she gave Gregory a call. (Submitted)|
The calls continued, such as from Sophie Salva, who is 87-years-old and lives alone.
Her oil tank was buried beneath several feet of snow and behind a monstrous snowbank. Soon, the company would have to come and refill it.
“There’s no way they would have been able to deliver it,” said Salva.
She continued that she’s already spent more than $1,400 on snow removal this winter, which is double the amount of her monthly pension.
“I can’t afford for it to snow anymore. It’s getting too much.”
Salva likes to sit by the living room window and watch people walk by. However, after the last snowstorm her view became a wall of white.
There was so much snow, she couldn’t even check her mailbox.
“I’ve never seen a winter like this,” Salva said. She’s lived in Revelstoke for 75 years.
|Sophie Salva’s home shoveled. (Liam Harrap/Revestoke Review)|
Gregory and other volunteers came to shovel her walk and Little Big Works used a Bobcat to clear a path to her oil tank.
“They’re all just absolutely marvelous,” Salva said.
“They’ve helped me make it through the rest of the winter.”
The group Revelstoke Unstuck, said Gregory shows that people can rally together and help.
“It’s about making people feel special and not be alone.”
Now, the snow has turned to rain and Gregory expects the phone calls to slow.
“Maybe I’ll now have time to shovel my own drive, Gregory said with a chuckle.