A call to action: Help your neighbor

ablenotdisabledThe winter season 2013 through 2014 returned Minneapolis to the reality of Minnesota winters. We had been spoiled by the relatively mild winter seasons of the past few years

I own and operate a snow-removal company. This is the first season where I can say, “I got tired of snow.” I don’t mind snow, but for a while the snow was falling every three or four days. This put a strain on bodies, equipment and clients.

We serve over 50 seniors and persons with disabilities. Our service enables many of these people to stay in their homes. When the snow accumulates on walkways and streets as it has this season, we all have increased travel time, less space to park, unsafe conditions on walkways to travel, corners and alleys that are nearly impossible to cross at or walk past.

If we live in a village, desire to be our brother’s keeper, and respect our elders, we all need to be aware of those in our village who can benefit greatly from a little assistance from the rest of us. If we know we have elder single women or an elder couple who live on our block and have no business trying to remove the snow from their walks, steps, drives, etc., it takes a little of your time, a lot of your heart, and maybe a few kind words and our people can truly be “our people.”

Regardless of my disability, I make and take the time to remove the snow for three elder single women on my block. I cannot purport to be my brother’s keeper and an advocate for seniors and persons with disabilities and stand by and know these women would try to do their snow removal just because they always have. They are not in perfect health, but their health would be much worse attempting to remove snow.

I believe all of us have been helped by someone else at some point in our lives. Why not “pay it forward”? The City requires that snow be removed from walkways within 24 hours after the snow has stopped falling on a “normal basis.” The area where the waste and recycling containers are picked up should have a three-foot-wide clear path. Persons with the orange disability labels on their receptacles can store them where it is convenient for them, but the route of travel from the receptacles to the pick-up truck has to be clear.

Proper snow removal by City ordinance is: Remove the snow down to the concrete surface and from the edge of your lawn to the edge of the boulevard. This requirement is in place to accommodate safe paths of travel for pedestrians, especially those with mobility impairments, service animals, blindness or vision impairments, motorized or manual assist chairs or scooters or other devices. It is not good enough or fair to clear a 12”-to-18” path because “you” can travel on a path that thin.

Young men and young women, become a force in your village. Help that elder or person with disabilities on your block or in the area you spend some of your time. The respect one seeks and values will be given and returned thousands of time over.

When City or County crews leave large mounds of snow at the corner or alley, call 311 and request they return to clear the snow. We are responsible for the public and private walks; they are responsible for the streets.

Kenneth Brown is a disability advocate, consultant and motivational speaker. He welcomes reader responses to ablenotdisabled@aol.com or 612-518-2155.