Plenty of people greeted today’s snowfall with a resigned sigh and a shovel but for many elderly or disabled people around the District today’s snow was more than just annoying, it was an impassable barrier.
Happily for them, there’s Snowcrew, a newly launched website that helps match up people trapped by snow with nearby Yetis, volunteers with shovels who will come and dig them out.
“Neighbors jumping in to help out other neighbors in need is not new but it is accelerated and better documented through Snowcrew,” said Joseph Porcelli, the creator of Snowcrew.
Porcelli lives and works in D.C. as director of engagement services at GovDelivery. As part of his job he helps connect communities with government services like FEMA but he said he has always had a passion for creating neighborhood networks.
“Snowcrew is a personal extension of my passion for connecting people and getting them to take action by serving each other through shoveling,” he said.
“I was inspired to start Snowcrew back in 2009 after working with a group of friends to help an elderly widowed neighbor clear out all the stuff they collected after 50 years of marriage after her husband passed so she could get a reverse mortgage,” Porcelli said. “The insurance company denied her because they say their stuff as a fire hazard. In Boston, where I lived at the time, it snowed a lot in the winter, and I wondered how she was doing, and thought a service like this might be helpful for hers and others.”
The website only went independent last week. Previously it had been hosted by Neighbors for Neighbors but now it uses the SeeClickFix platform to coordinate volunteers with people in need. Although technically still in beta, more than 400 people have signed up to volunteer, with plenty in D.C. eager to help out their neighbors.
“Snowcrew lends context to a trend we had already been seeing on the platform,” Porcelli said.
If you need want to volunteer to help dig people out of the snow, be sure to check out Snowcrew’s website.
“Snowcrew really makes a difference and is an awesome example of how citizens can and will help overcome challenges,” Porcelli said.