Trades Day of Caring ‘a blessing’ for local seniors (9 photos)

United Way and Sault College teamed up to assist local seniors with fall cleanup efforts across town on Saturday

“Their work means I can actually live independently,” said Erica Speer, a grateful resident who received some help at her long-time family home on Malabar Drive.

Workers from United Way of Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma, as well as students and instructors from Sault College, collaborated for another year of ‘Trades Day of Caring,’ an initiative where volunteers look after fall cleanup efforts at a number of seniors’ houses across town.

Speer’s home was just one of 19 households that received some much-needed help on Saturday, which included an abundance of raking, as well as applying plastic to her windows.

While she doesn’t consider herself as elderly just yet, Speer has struggled with bending and lifting ever since she suffered a stroke in her teens that has left her weak on the left side of her body.

The idea of raking and bagging her giant backyard’s worth of leaves by herself is an unimaginable thought.  

“It makes such a big difference,” she said. “Raking is just one of those movements that’s really hard for me.”

Two dozen bagged leaves later, the hardworking team of volunteers nearly had Speer at a loss for words.

“In 15 minutes, they’ve done what would take me days and days to do,” she said. “It allows me to stay in my home longer. They’ve been so kind to come in and do this.”

Since 2010, the Trades Day of Caring program has assisted hundreds of seniors with fall tasks, and they’ve been assisting Speer since 2015.

Rayna Evoy from United Way says their efforts with Sault College have been incredibly rewarding.

“It’s a wonderful partnership,” she said. “We wouldn’t be able to do it without the students. It makes everyone feel good for what they’re doing.”

Sault College instructor Sam Spadafora has been helping with the program for 11 years, and he loves coming back every year to assist those who need it most.

“We just want to help people out,” he said. “It’s amazing to see the smile on people’s faces, it really makes it worth it.”

There were even some younger faces taking the time to volunteer on Saturday, including Grade 7 student Jason Bryant, who was with his mom from the college.

“It feels good to give back,” he said. “I should be doing this more often.”