Group Aims to Assist Elderly With Snow Clean-Up

Sophomore, Meghan Horbey expresses her interest in working with non-profit organizations during a club meeting in Mercy hall.

Sophomore, Meghan Horbey expresses her interest in working with non-profit organizations during a club meeting in Mercy hall.

Alexandria Smith, Reporter

Members of the student group Open Hearts, Open Eyes say the weather is “S’No Problem” to the elderly and area residents with disabilities this season.

   Members of the group aim to “shovel the walks and driveways of local elderly and disabled community members, free of charge” whenever it snows, according to the group’s official Facebook event page.

   The group, which was formed to  provide “relief, support and encouragement” to those residents of NEPA affected by severe weather, natural disasters, and other local crises, aimed to “leaf”  their mark last fall, when the group raked the properties of ill, disabled, and elderly residents during their  “Leaf it to Us” event.

   Sophomore social work major Casey Saylor said that while the group does not have the finances or the materials to respond to ice, they do have snow shovels, which student volunteers use to respond to the needs of the community, especially residents of the Meadows Apartments.

   The group has also secured a closet on campus where they can store their shovels. First year physician’s assistant major Zachary Moody said the campus presence, regardless of how small, helps the group to become more established.

   “While we can’t get our own key [to the closet] because it’s campus property, we’ll at least be able to put all of the shovels and rakes that we’re going to use in there, as opposed to keeping them in Casey’s room. It’s nice that we have somewhere we can put everything, because now it’s not some closet operation – like in our own house, or in our own room. It’s actually an established thing that we’re trying to get the word out about in Campus Ministry, or just campus in general,” said Moody.

   The group has begun to produce more literature, including business cards and a fully functional website, to gain more student participation while promoting their services to those in need.

   “We’re going to be handing out the business cards to invite everyone we possibly can [to join the group], and try to spread the word. As for Facebook, Twitter, and all social media, we’re also trying to post things on there regularly so that people know we’re an active club doing things all the time,” said Moody.

   While OHOE would like to advertise their services to other areas within the community, Saylor acknowledges that they do not have the students available to do so.

   “We don’t want to advertise our services to the community until we can ensure that we can fulfill those services when they are called to us. So, in order to do that, we need to build our student participation,” said Saylor.

   In spite of fluctuating student participation, Open Hearts Open Eyes has benefited many people, including director of Student Activities Darcy Brodmerkel.    

   Brodmerkel said members of the group came to her home to rake leaves in the fall after she made a request. While Brodmerkel doesn’t consider herself an elderly or disabled member of the community, she suffers from severe back problems, which combined with her busy schedule, would not have made the raking possible.

   “So, when the students came over to the house, I was working, and it was completely done. It looked great and I was very thrilled, so I gave them a donation that was to be going toward helping them purchase snow shovels,” she said.

   According to Brodmerkel, members of OHOE sent her a Christmas card not long after, which impressed her.

   “They thanked me for supporting them, not as a representative of the school, with everything that I’ve done with how they started, but as a participant of allowing them to come do this and helping me out, and I thought that was kind of cool. Lots of times it’s those little things because, after I got that, I shared that with several other people around here. And the thing is that, once you get out there, the word of mouth continues to carry it.”

   While Brodmerkel believes that it will take some time for the group to get going, she said the intentions of OHOE are genuine and compassionate.

   Anyone who would like to make a donation, or would like to help with Open Hearts, Open Eyes in the future, is encouraged to visit the group’s official website at www.openheartsopeneyes.weebly.com and send an email to [email protected]