BILLINGS — Snow Buddies, a program run by the City of Billings that linked volunteers with those in need of snow shoveling help, has been suspended due to a lack of shoveling volunteers.
"I would love that neighbors would just help out neighbors and be aware of each other's situations, but that’s just not the way it is," said Tina Hoeger, the city's Code Enforcement Division Manager.
Hoeger can’t hide her disappointment that the program has been canceled this year because of a lack of help.
"I think I had one (volunteer)," she said when asked about interest.
Snow Buddies had been around for a decade. If a resident needed help shoveling their walkways, they could call the city and get matched up with a volunteer, and the partnership would usually last all winter. But the problem recently became a lack of help in certain areas.
"Many times when people would volunteer, they only want to do a specific area of town," Hoeger said. "I think that was the deal with our one volunteer again this year."
Q2 put out a social media post about the closure Monday afternoon, and many said they didn’t know the program existed. That’s what the city was thinking when they put out a PSA about the program suspension, as well as tips about residents’ responsibility for shoveling.
"We thought maybe we’ll get volunteers, and folks will say, 'I've got some spare time. How can I help?'" Hoeger said. "But in actuality, the first question we got was, ‘How come you can’t shovel snow into the street?’”
Hoeger wants to resurrect the program as quickly as possible, but knows it’s on the citizens - not the city - to do it.
"It’s impossible for us to go out and shovel people’s drives and sidewalks, and it’s just the sidewalks and right-of-ways," she said. "If you know your neighbor is older, or they don't have any family. Maybe they just had a baby and they can't get out there and shovel. What's another 50 feet?"