‘It’s a relief:’ Program pairs young church members with elderly neighbors in need of snow removal

MILWAUKEE -- The first significant snowstorm of the season dropped five-and-a-half inches of snow in Milwaukee starting Friday, Jan. 18, and officials with the City of Milwaukee's Department of Public Works called overnight snow removal operations Saturday, Jan. 19 and Sunday, Jan. 20, requiring alternate side parking overnight on city streets to allow for snow cleanup. Meanwhile, as some who are elderly can feel trapped by the snow, there's a new pilot program that pairs young church members with neighbors in need.

"A lot of blowing snow. A lot of lake effect snow," said Brian DeNeve, DPW spokesman on Sunday. "While the snow duration may have stopped, we still had to deal with additional snow that may have caused us to go over some of the routes we had already plowed."

Brian DeNeve, DPW spokesman

Josephine Key

With DPW crews busy all weekend, senior members of Milwaukee's Harambee neighborhood said they were grateful for a helping hand.

"With me having help like that, it's a relief. I feel relief. Not trapped," said Josephine Key, homeowner. "They came, they did what they had to do -- very efficiently -- and then they were on to the next house."

Bader Philanthropies, a Milwaukee charity, has established a courtesy snow removal program for residents in Milwaukee's Harambee neighborhood who are elderly and in need of assistance.

"We are usually the ones doing the helping, so it feels really, really good that someone is helping us," said Debra Lofton-Butler.

The program involves recruiting young people from Milwaukee churches, and offering them a small stipend to clear sidewalks and driveways. More importantly, it teaches them the value of helping their neighbors in need, and possibly, saving their lives.

On Sunday, the Milwaukee County medical examiner announced the deaths of two men who collapsed after clearing snow. One of them was 91 years old. It's proof that this program could save lives.

"This program really has been a wonderful help," said Roberta Lyles.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.