- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Mae Miles, 75, became stuck yesterday after snow piled against the doors of her Wheaton house.
But that was before 9-year-old Allie Weinman came by.
Allie, making a routine check, came armed with her shovel and her father, Arthur Weinman. Together, father and daughter dug the snow away from the doors, driveway and sidewalk.
"It was so deep I couldn't open the door," Mrs. Miles said.
Neighbors across the Washington area shoveled each other's driveways, lent snow shovels and pushed cars stuck since Sunday the spirit of community cooperation helping to speed recovery from one of the worst snowstorms in the region's history and transforming good neighbors into better neighbors.
Manny Fernandez of Falls Church was one of several who helped his stranded neighbors shovel their driveways and walkways buried under at least 2 feet of snow.
The 28-year-old construction worker had just finished pushing a Volvo out of snowbank on a service road off Columbia Pike in Annandale when he saw Jose Guiterrez, 69, having trouble clearing his walk.
"You have to help these people," Mr. Fernandez said, shoveling snow as Mr. Guiterrez took a break. "If the government can't do it, then you have to take matters into your own hands. If you wait, you won't get out for days."
Mr. Guiterrez was thankful that people like Mr. Fernandez live so close.
"I don't know what I would do if it weren't for my neighbors like Manny," he said. "It would take me a week to shovel out of this snow if I had to do it all on my own."
Across the street, Bill O'Keefe, a father of two girls, ventured out for the first time to get some groceries for his elderly neighbor Sara Holmes, 70, who has been stuck at home since Saturday. Mr. O'Keefe, 48, couldn't get his car out of his driveway so he decided to walk to a nearby store to get Mrs. Holmes some soup, bread, eggs and cat food.
"I didn't think twice when she called me and asked me for help," he said as he walked to the store. "You have to take care of each other. What kind of community would we be if we didn't?"
Frank Keen, a postal worker in Pasadena, Md., agreed. He used his four-wheel-drive Ford Bronco to take a neighbor to a nearby Food Lion store.
"We all have to do it," said Mr. Keen, 46, who lives in a cul-de-sac that had not been plowed and remained covered with 6 to 8 inches of snow.
Yesterday he and other men helped push a neighbor's Kia Optima down the cul-de-sac.
"Nobody seems to have any problem in pitching in and helping each other out," said Mr. Keen's wife, Pam, a settlement officer for a title company.
One lucky recipient of help was Beverly Prentiss, a nurse who recently arrived from Jamaica. She tried to leave Sunday morning from overnight care of an 85-year-old patient, but her car got stuck in the snow on Woodson Avenue near Kensington.
Neighbors Robert Curtis, 45, and Brian Johnson, 32, helped push the car into Mr. Curtis' driveway and took her phone number and car keys, saying they would call when the street was clear.
Then yesterday, Jim Hollingsworth, a housemate of Mr. Curtis, and Mr. Johnson dug a car lane from the driveway to the main road, blocks away. Then they called Miss Prentiss to tell her she could pick up her car.
Meanwhile, another Wheaton resident, 85-year-old Glen Jennings, started to shovel his steps, sidewalk and driveway. Neighbors knew Mr. Jennings has a bad heart, so Alan Graves, 49, and his wife, Susan, 48, took giant steps in the snow to take over Mr. Jennings' chore.
He couldn't get the door open because of the snow piled against it, Mr. Graves said.
But the construction superintendent and his wife, an employee of American Occupational Therapy Administration, didn't stop there. Neighbors to the west were due to return from a visit to New York City. Last night, the neighbors' driveway and sidewalk were cleared of snow by Mr. and Mrs. Graves.
Nearby, Jimmy and Jean Manion also got help. Mr. Manion, who has difficulty walking with a cane, received a hand from neighbors Bobby Freer, 12, and Pervis Major, 38, who volunteered to shovel his front steps, sidewalk and driveway.
The cooperation resulted in more than snow removal, residents said.
Mrs. Keen said they hadn't seen and talked to many of their neighbors for quite a while.
Kim Harris, 43, of Pasadena said "the need to proceed" was what brought neighbors out of their homes to help one another.
"I've seen a lot of people in the past couple of days that I haven't seen in a long time," said Mrs. Harris, who works for a loan and mortgage company.
Mrs. Harris said most of the men in the neighborhood gladly helped each other move mounds of snow from sidewalks and driveways.
"That's pretty good for us," she said.
Larry Jones of Pasadena said he helped out a neighbor he hadn't talked to in a very long time "the guy next door."
"I was shoveling snow, and he stepped out of his house and the first thing he said was, 'I can't believe this.' The snow was about 6 inches deep," said Mr. Jones, a civilian telecommunications specialist for the Army. "I threw him a shovel and he dug his way to his truck so he could get his shovel."
Mr. Jones, 47, said he had helped about four or five neighbors dig their vehicles out of the snow and clear pavement.
After being helped by her 9-year-old savior, the grateful Mrs. Miles gave her an envelope containing money and a thank-you note to Allie. But Allie told her father she didn't want the money; she just wanted to be good. So Allie pretended she wanted a tour of Mrs. Miles' house. After she left, Mrs. Miles found the envelope, money and a note: "God wants to do good," it read.
Carleton Bryant and Ellen Sorokin contributed to this report.


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