Back in July, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced a program with a New Deal-ish appeal:
City youth willing to shovel snow for senior citizens or persons with disabilities could sign up – and potentially make “$500 or more” for their efforts.
Little did they know how much need there would be at the get-go. After a record-setting 29-inches of snow over the weekend, how’s the program working?
“Oh I didn’t really expect they could make it, in all this,” said Jim Furlong, of Hampden, one of the people who signed up to receive the shoveling help. (There were some 1,200 of them, according to an email City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke sent to constituents.)
The youth shovelers never came on Sunday. And by Monday, Furlong’s niece was available to help. She was the person responsible for the neatly-dug out sidewalk and front walk at the 67-year-old retiree’s rowhouse on 37th Street.
Still, the city youth shoveling crews were out there elsewhere in the city today, taking a stab at the heaps of snow blanketing town. Photos posted of them by @BmoreCityDOT show them shoveling away under sunny skies, including one where Rawlings-Blake joins them, shovel in hand .
According to city DOT spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes, 345 students were registered to participate in the program.
Furlong, who said he has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, said he didn’t mind that the shovelers couldn’t come to his aid and still liked the thought behind the initiative.
“It’s a nice program. My wife jumped on it the minute she heard about it,” said the retired Baltimore County correctional caseworker. “It’ll work better when there’s just a few inches of snow.”
The City Youth Snow Shoveling Program, crafted back when the mayor was still planning to run for re-election, has had some rocky patches.
In November, as the deadline approached for would-be shovelers to get their paperwork in, some had difficulty getting through. The phone numbers to sign up went to recordings and appeared to no longer be valid.
Barnes said at the time that “the phone number for the program changed over the summer and “our contacts in the community were informed that they should tell people to call 311.”
While Furlong’s sidewalk and path were dug out today, his street remained impassable to any vehicle short of a gnarly four-wheel drive truck or SUV. He said the 700-block of 37th had been partially plowed by a private contractor he believes was paid by his across-the-street neighbor, Johns Hopkins Keswick campus.
“I hope the city doesn’t consider this street plowed,” he said, looking out at the crusty snow that filled the roadway and nearly obscured the cars parked there.
On Sunday, it had been worse. That private plowing vehicle was stuck in the middle of the street and abandoned – a monument to the difficulty 14 to 21-year-olds would have faced getting there.