Volunteer Shovelers

Sharon Fuller of West Green Street in Olean watches as volunteer Billie Jo Long of Hillside Wesleyan Church, shovels snow from walks near her home and other properties Friday. Long is one of several volunteers in Olean who help to keep walks cleared for the elderly and disabled.

OLEAN — While many people were watching Friday’s heavy snowfall from inside a warm home or building, a group of dedicated volunteers shoveled sidewalks for those in need of assistance.

In November, the city of Olean asked for volunteers to help clear snow and ice from sidewalks belonging to individuals unable to shovel due to their age or health.

Mayor Bill Aiello said many people have trouble meeting the city’s code that requires residents to remove snow and ice from their sidewalks following a snowstorm. Therefore, a  list of volunteers who can help them is kept by city officials in the event someone calls in for help.

Aiello said churches, service organizations and school students have volunteered for the task in past years.

One of the current volunteers is Billie Jo Long of Hillside Wesleyan Church in Olean. She and her husband, the Rev. Rick Long, both signed up to help the program as part of their ministry.

Billi Jo Long was found shoveling a walk along West Green Street Friday in front of a home occupied by Sharon Fuller.

Billie Jo Long said she and her husband are glad to help because there are a number of people who use West Green Street  sidewalks to walk to the nearby Ried’s Food Barn for groceries.

“There are a lot of walkers who are elderly,” she said. “It would be awesome if people would take advantage of this.”

Long said she and her husband they take turns shoveling walks on that street, as well as another property in the area.

“This builds community,” she added.

Fuller said she helps with the shoveling as much as she is able, but appreciates the Longs’ help.  

Aiello said his office refers volunteers to residents who have contacted the city for help.

“We have a few volunteers, but we’re always looking for people willing to help out their neighbors,” Aiello said. “We have a lot of older people (in the city) and it’s hard for them to shovel their walks.”

Aiello said those in need of help, or who want to volunteer, can reach out to his office or code enforcement at 376-5615.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at kates_th@yahoo.com)