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 Lawrence Technological University student Dori Watts stuffs leaves into a bag in 2016 during the first-ever Big Rake event.

Lawrence Technological University student Dori Watts stuffs leaves into a bag in 2016 during the first-ever Big Rake event.

File photo by Sean Work


Volunteers needed for raking and snow shoveling for seniors

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published November 20, 2019

 LTU student Claudia Stampa gets to work on a pile of leaves during the 2016 event.

LTU student Claudia Stampa gets to work on a pile of leaves during the 2016 event.

File photo by Sean Work

SOUTHFIELD — As more seniors age in place, it can be tough to find someone willing to help with leaf and snow removal.

Since 2016, Southfield Mayor Ken Siver has been recruiting volunteers to help rake senior citizens’ yards as part of his Big Rake program, to be held this year 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 23 and Dec. 7.

The goal of the program is to help elderly or disabled residents with fall lawn maintenance.

Volunteers are needed to help rake and bag leaves for residents, Siver said. Lowe’s, The Home Depot and Great Lakes Ace Hardware of Southfield are all helping to sponsor the event, he said.

Siver said previously that he is working with the city’s Chore program to find eligible seniors to benefit from the Big Rake.

The Chore program helps income-qualified seniors maintain their homes. The program is funded by Community Development Block Grant money. Seniors receive assistance with lawn care, snow removal, window and gutter cleaning, minor plumbing work, and furnace and electrical repairs, according to the city’s website.

Last year, 350 volunteers helped to clear over 120 yards, officials said.

A recent major snowfall is making things a little more difficult this year, Siver said.

On Nov. 11, the metro Detroit area received a record-breaking 8.5 inches of snow.

The wacky weather prompted Siver to cancel the rake scheduled for Nov. 16.

“It’s all weather dependent. This much snow is really unheard of,” he said. “But there’s a lot of leaves still on the trees.”

In addition to helping out local seniors, raking also helps boost the overall look of the city, Siver said.

“We also do vacant lots in the community and vacant properties so that they don’t look forlorn,” he said. “We put them last, so if we have enough volunteers we will just do a quick cleanup of their property so we can have curb appeal.”

When it comes to the snow, Denise Glinz, the Chore program coordinator, said it can be tough connecting seniors with reputable snow removal sources. There are a lot of people who need help and not enough resources, she said, as the program can only help about 200 seniors.

Glinz recommends that younger and able-bodied residents check on their senior neighbors to see if they need their snow removed.

“It’s an ordinance in Southfield that if you have a city sidewalk, you have to have your sidewalk done. If you don’t, code enforcement could issue a warning and then a ticket,” Glinz said. “We start out (helping people) at 62, and I have people that are 100 years old on my program, and obviously, they can no longer cut grass, rake the leaves and they definitely can’t do snow removal, so there is a need out there.

“Why aren’t we helping our senior neighbors?” she said. “We have to take care of our senior citizens, because one day that will be us. People need to help each other.”

Although the rakes are scheduled on Saturdays, Siver said weekday rakes can also be accommodated for large groups.

Interested volunteers can call (248) 796-5100.