Serve Rhode Island’s Storm Assistance Program

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It has been a mild winter so far, but Serve Rhode Island (SRI) is busy recruiting volunteers and processing resident applications for our Storm Assistance for Elderly & Disabled (SAFE-D) program. In its sixth year, SAFE-D is a statewide effort to recruit community volunteers to assist our elderly and disabled neighbors in need after significant snowstorms (6+ inches of snow and ice).

Last January and February Serve Rhode Island recruited and mobilized about 150 volunteers to complete over 300 snow-shoveling assignments after only a few major storms. With the anticipated winter ahead we are recruiting volunteers now to spare the elderly and disabled from risk of injury and to bring them relief. Interviews with many of these elderly residents indicated that they had attempted to do their own snow and ice removal at risk of heart attacks and falling.

We are currently halfway to our goal of volunteers but we are in need of more volunteers who can serve the elderly and disabled, especially in those areas around Providence, Cranston, Warwick, and Pawtucket. Volunteers remove snow from: sidewalks, driveways and walkways so that residents can get to medical appointments, receive meals or home healthcare, and have a way to exit their home in case of an emergency. Visit the Serve Rhode Island website to learn more. The program is intended to assist those who are physically unable to shovel themselves and lack the financial resources to hire professional help. While we cannot guarantee service, we work to match residents with available volunteers in their area. Residents with other resources are encouraged to seek alternate assistance.

Rhode Island’s population of 65 and older individuals is 16.1% of the total population, or 169,008 individuals. This is higher than the national average of 13.7% according to the 2012 US Census data. According to RI Department of Elderly Affairs (DEA), many live alone and with low to moderate incomes. A Kaiser Family Foundation study found that 15% of Rhode Island’s 65+ population live in poverty, as defined by the Census Bureau Supplemental Poverty definition.  With a large and growing elderly population, Rhode Island would benefit from a body of community volunteers dedicated to meeting their needs. SRI has teamed up with the (DEA) to identify the most at-risk and vulnerable residents who need to be attended in the event of a winter storm.

Volunteer applications are available on our website at or by calling our office at 401-331-2298 to learn more.

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