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On the afternoon of Jan. 21 Tammy Cappis put on her winter clothes, grabbed her shovel and went out to clear the ice from her driveway and sidewalk.
Her mom and been in the hospital for the last week and a half before passing away. Between work and visiting her mom in the hospital Cappis hadn’t had time to clear the snow from her property.
The freeze and thaw cycle had created a thick hard packed mess of snow and ice that she needed to clear before she hosted her mother’s wake the next day.
To try and make the job a little easier, she spread salt on it around 11 a.m. before coming out with the shovel at 3:30 p.m. to finish the job which she expected to take hours.
“I started chipping away at the ice and it was thick,” said Cappis.
She was expecting anything from 25 to 50 people to come for the wake the next day, many of them seniors who wouldn’t have been able to walk over the ice to get to the door.
As she was working, Cappis noticed an RCMP patrol pickup parked across the street and waved hello to them.
Inside were Const. Jeff Kalan who was driving and Const. Laura Stubbs.
As they drove past, they stopped to chat with Cappis.
“They both asked how I was doing and made a comment that they thought it was going to be a big job.
“And I’m like oh ya it’s going to take me hours but I have to get it done,” she said.
She explained her situation and how she had to get ready to host the wake the next day.
Both officers gave their condolences and wished her good luck before driving off.
After saying goodbye, Cappis got back to work and didn’t think anything more of the conversation until 15 minutes later the police officers came back, this time armed with shovels.
Kalan and Stubbs got to work clearing the ice.
She was amazed that the officers had time to help her.
“It actually made me cry,” said Cappis.
The two officers had just completed a call when they noticed Cappis struggling by herself to clear the ice.
After talking to Cappis “We made the decision to find some shovels and just go help,” said Kalan.
The two officers stopped by Kalan’s house to get the shovels before returning to clear the driveway.
“It was pretty thick ice,” said Stubbs with a laugh.
One of Cappis’ neighbours came to help as well. Her estimated four-hour job of hard labour was completed much quicker with all this unexpected help.
“The four of us buzzed through it in an hour,” said Cappis.
Even with the ice and snow cleared she was up until midnight preparing for the wake.
The unsolicited help that she received astonished Cappis.
“It was amazing,” she said, “I’ve never had anybody do that, I tend not to ask for help for anything.”
Even if she had been asking for help Cappis said it never would have occurred to her to ask the police for help shoveling snow.
“Even if you were to think about asking for help why would think to ask the police,” she said.
She even raised this question to Stubbs and Kalan, asking if they had something better to do.
“They both said no this is exactly where they need to be,” said Cappis, “they were doing exactly what they needed to do and that was to help someone in need.”
Const. Kalan said that helping Cappis fits with the core values of the RCMP, one of which is compassion.
“I think that’s what this story’s all about is compassion,” he said “and building networks with the community.”
While they were clearing the snow the officers had their radios with them and were ready to leave to go to a call if one came in.
“At the time we didn’t have any calls for service,” said Stubbs.
Both officers said it was touching how appreciative Cappis was of their help.
“She was so grateful,” said Kalan.
“That was really rewarding,” said Stubbs, “it gave you that nice warm feeling inside.”
Chestermere RCMP Detachment Commander Staff Sgt. Mark Wielgosz said that he wasn’t too surprised to hear that two of his officers had done something like this.
“It’s something that I’m very proud to see that they’ve done in our community,” he said.
Although shoveling isn’t part of a normal day on the job, Wielgosz said the RCMP are here to serve the community in any form that is necessary and needed.
“Certainly we’re not sending our members out to shovel every persons driveway but in this particular case, based on the circumstances that they heard I think it was completely appropriate what they did,” he said.
“They’ve done me proud,” said Wielgosz.