Building Community in Snow Storm Jonas


I want to share a heartwarming story with you that occurred during last month’s historic snowstorm.

On Monday after the storm, while I was working to get my neighborhood plowed out, I received a phone call from a nice woman who said that the folks at the Aberdeen Fire Department gave her my telephone number as somebody who wants to help people shovel out.

I said, “OK– what do you have for me?”

She explained that there is an amputee/disabled veteran who lives with his mother and needs help shoveling snow.

Two minutes later, I posted on facebook that an amputee veteran and his mom needed help shoveling and that I was on my way there. I asked for help via facebook with something like: “Can you help? Many hands make light work.”

Seven minutes later, I pulled off the road and banged on the front door. Ms. Sandie came to the door to say hello, and showed me the photo of her son, an amputee veteran in his twenties, on the wall.

Her son had tried shoveling out earlier, but he fell down a couple times because of his prosthesis. Overwhelmed by this story and the photograph of the young man on the wall, I insisted — “OK, I’m getting to work right now, and I hope to get done by dark. If I don’t get it done, I will be back tomorrow with help.”

It was ~3:15PM, and I wanted to get to work right away because I knew the snow would be freezing soon and would be much harder to shovel after dark.

Not five shovelfuls later, two big plainclothes army guys showed up ready to work. And they were smart — they brought a snowblower. One from Ohio and one from Michigan, they knew their way around snow. They had seen my facebook post minutes before and drove over to help. Sergeant First Class Anderson and Ed Swiger.

Five minutes later, two more guys showed up. An Army diesel mechanic and a soldier from Georgia, Thomas McEylea and Daniel McIntyre.

Then Mercedes Smith rolled up to dig in.

And we were all shoveling and snow-blowing and talking and working to help this family out.

It was awesome.

Then the neighbor asked for help, and we went and helped shovel that corner.

After we got done, Ms. Sandie expressed that she was thankful and wanted to make sure we all knew about the April 30 fundraiser for her son, Jesse Wallace, who is trying to raise money to get a hand-cycle to compete at the Wounded Warrior Games. These hand-cycles are custom-built and cost between $3000 and $6500.

This fundraiser is a Poker Run to be held at the Chesapeake Harley Davidson in Darlington on Route 1. A Poker Run is a motorcycle or car event that starts and ends at the Harley Dealership. At several stops along the way, each participant picks up a random playing card. At the end, the person/group with the best hand wins!

I hope you will consider participating in Jesse’s Poker Run Fundraiser, and as more details are released, I will share them here.

Kindheartedness and neighborliness is alive in Aberdeen, and I’m so thankful I got to be part of this experience to help one of our own in such a simple way. This is what real ‘community’ is about– let’s all try and grow community together. There are lots of opportunities right in our neighborhoods to make big differences in other people’s lives. Let’s get it done. 

If you have ideas of how to build community and want to share your ideas, let’s talk. I view my job as Mayor as a facilitator to connect people to solve problems. Want to start the “Aberdeen Snow Shovel Brigade” in your neighborhood? Do you know a family who needs help? Send me a message or call me at 410.357.1234 and let’s use community to solve problems.

Here is the link to Jesse Wallace’s GoFundMe campaign, to fund the purchase of a hand-cycle. Please contribute if you are able:

Jesse wallace walking

Top Photo Credit: Courtney McIntyre. Left to Right: Thomas McElyea, Daniel McIntyre, Ed Swiger, Sandie Higley, Mercedes Smith, Patrick McGrady

Photo of Jesse Wallace walking is from the GoFundMe Site.

As always, my Cell Phone number is 410.357.1234. You can email me at Patrick (at) or using this contact form.

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P.S. Also, a big THANK YOU to Ted Wilcox and Fred Norman, who showed up to help in less than an hour, but we were already done with the shoveling 🙂 Also thanks to Leonora Garvey, who called me to tell me about the need for help.