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In an increasingly fast-paced and digitally connected world, being a good neighbor often takes a back seat to our busy lives. We often don’t make the effort to get to know the people living the closest to us and we are missing out on the benefits of creating strong community bonds and a web of support that enriches the lives of all involved.

Snow is great fun for children, but can be dangerous for older residents who need help shoveling. This snowman in Salida’s Alpine Park, made by unknown hands (although one, tell-tale hand print remains) seems to be enjoying both the chilly temperatures and the sunshine. Photos by Jan Wondra

In our busy lives, the simplest thing we can do that will have a positive impact on our street and neighborhood is shoveling snow for an older neighbor. Supporting older neighbors through snow shoveling enhances safety, combats social isolation, improves quality of life, and builds stronger communities.

Older adults often dread the snow. Snow for older adults who are no longer physically able to shovel often means being housebound, getting fined for not shoveling, and risking injury.

The twisting, bending, and lifting motions involved in shoveling, as well as exposure to the cold can be detrimental to the health of older adults. It can lead to sprains, broken bones, back injuries, and heart problems. Taking 15 minutes to shovel for an older neighbor can be a lifeline that allows them to age in place comfortably and keeps them safe throughout the winter months.

In addition to keeping older adults safe, helping a neighbor combats social isolation and enhances the quality of life for all parties involved. A simple conversation or offering a helping hand can be a huge support for those who might otherwise feel alone. Social interaction is vital for mental health, and being a good neighbor can help alleviate loneliness.

Studies have consistently shown that helping others is associated with increased levels of happiness and well-being. Neighborly assistance also builds trust, which is the bedrock of any thriving community. When we help our neighbors, we not only become trusted individuals but also forge genuine friendships. These connections bring joy, support, and a deeper sense of security.

Helping others has also been linked to lower stress levels and improved mental health. It provides a sense of purpose and can combat symptoms of depression and anxiety.

A fundamental benefit of helping a neighbor is the way it strengthens the bonds within our communities. Communities thrive when people are there for one another, creating a support network that enriches our lives and our sense of belonging. The neighbor you assist today may be the one who supports you in your time of need tomorrow. It showcases the resilience of communities and empowers individuals to overcome challenges together.

In a world often dominated by self-interest and individualism, being a good neighbor reminds us of the collective strength we possess when we come together. It highlights the importance of human connection and the healing power of being in community and helping one another.

Let’s not underestimate the power of a helping hand or a friendly smile. This winter, exercise your empathy and help show the community that Chaffee County residents care about their older neighbors by offering to shovel snow for them. If you need a shovel, reach out to Aubrey with Ark Valley Helping Hands 719-530-1198 and she will provide you with one.

By Aubrey Tamietti

Ark Valley Helping Hands