Mayor Hancock Calls Healthy Denver Residents to Become a Snow Buddy

Snow in Denver creates a true winter wonderland, but after the flakes fall, Denver residents are charged with the responsibility of clearing their sidewalks. For those in good shape, shoveling the walks can be an unwelcome task. For those who are elderly, shoveling the snow can become a hardship that poses a serious life safety risk.

Volunteers Of America and the City of Denver are urging those who are in good physical shape to step up and sign up to be a Snow Buddy this season. The Volunteers of America’s Snow Buddies program pairs volunteers with elderly residents in need of assistance with clearing snow from their walkways.

The program does its best to match volunteers with senior citizens living in close proximity to one another. Snow Buddy volunteers commit to clearing the snow of their “buddy” after every snowfall so that walkways can be accessible and safe to all. The goal of the Snow Buddies program is to support our aging neighbors and provide them with an opportunity to continue living independently by helping with the physically demanding effort of shoveling snow.

"The Snow Buddies program is a shining example of what makes Denver a world-class city," said Mayor Hancock. "Helping an aging neighbor or person in need shovel their snow provides huge relief in our community and keeps our sidewalks walkable during the snow season. The collaboration and care Snow Buddies ignites between neighbors shows the essence of our Denver Spirit, and I encourage volunteers to sign up for this great program."

Shoveling snow can pose a real physical risk for some of our neighbors. Studies have shown that aging adults are four times more likely to have heart-related symptoms than younger people from shoveling snow. However, not shoveling the snow off of your walkway poses a threat to our entire community. Snow Buddies provides an option for elderly residents to remain in their homes while still allowing their walkways to be cleared and passable.

"There is a dire need to help the elderly in Denver clear their sidewalks," said Derek Okubo, Executive Director of Denver’s Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships. "Volunteers of America is a great partner in connecting volunteers and needy seniors in the Metro area."

To become a volunteer, residents of the metro Denver area must fill out an application and undergo a background check before being matched with a senior. Once the match is made, the expectation is that the volunteer will show up at their senior’s home after every snowfall and clear their walkways. Information about becoming a Snow Buddy is available at or by calling 720-264-3379.

There is a one-time, non-refundable fee of $20 associated with signing up to volunteer. This cost covers the expense of running a background check on each applicant. Denver’s Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships has generously donated funds to cover this fee for the first 50 people who sign up to volunteer as Snow Buddies.

"I want to extend a huge thank you to the City of Denver and Denver’s Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships for helping us to promote Snow Buddies and for the kind donation toward our cost of processing our volunteers," said Jim White, Director of Public Relations and Marketing for Volunteers Of America. "Snow Buddies is an excellent program that serves a significant need in our community, but given the demand for help with shoveling during the winter months, it’s critical that we greatly increase our volunteer base."

When considering volunteering, or if you are older and preparing for another season of clearing snow yourself, remember that anyone over the age of 55 needs to seriously evaluate their physical condition before deciding to take on the task of shoveling snow. Check with your doctor now before snow starts falling to make sure you are physically cleared for this type of rigorous exertion.

"It’s important to keep in mind that snow removal is exercise," said Emily Hass, MD, interventional cardiologist at Denver Health. "Make sure you’re ready for the snow season by talking with your doctor now to assess any health risks. If, when you are shoveling snow, or at any time, you experience symptoms of a heart attack, don’t hesitate to call 911."

For more information on who should, and shouldn't, be shoveling snow this season, go to

Snow removal is rigorous exercise. For those that want to volunteer to be a Snow Buddy, remember that you may be at increased risk of heart attack while shoveling snow if you are older than 55, smoke, have a history of heart disease, have a history of other health problems, or lead a sedentary lifestyle. It is always a good idea to check with your doctor to be sure you are healthy enough to shovel before snow starts to fall.

Posted on October 16, 2012 (Archive on May 20, 2013)
Posted by kpellegrin  Contributed by kpellegrin