Dennis Flint The ‘White Knight’ Rises

Snowplow operator Dennis Flint is at it again, lending senior citizens a hand (no charge) as winter finally strikes the Buffalo, New York region

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Proof that public spirit still exists... thanks!

I have the plows and the ability to help, so why wouldn’t I? - says Dennis

Amherst, New York, January 2012 : As the first major snowstorm of Winter 2012 bore down on the Greater Buffalo Region this week, Dennis Flint geared up.

WhiteKnight Dennis Flint, the owner of Amherst, New York-based Big D Towing, hit the streets along with two of his employees early Friday morning, their powerful, snowplow-equipped tow trucks part of a large fleet subcontracted by local governments in Buffalo, Amherst and surrounding communities to keep roads clear. But unlike many of their fellow plowers, Flint and his Big D crew added a few additional stops – clearing private driveways of senior citizens, private roads inside age-restricted townhouse communities and parking lots outside three different senior centers, all free of charge.

“It’s just something I feel we should do,” Dennis Flint said. “It’s a nice way to give back.”

Flint rose to local fame during the Buffalo area’s brutal 2010/2011 winter season, which saw measurable snow fall on 51 of 83 days between Dec. 1, 2010, and Feb. 22, 2011. As of that latter date, Buffalo had endured over 86 inches of snow – more than 7 feet – and while making his rounds as a subcontractor working for town, city and village officials during those four-dozen snow events, Dennis Flint noticed many senior citizens struggling to clear their driveways, as well as several buried senior facilities.

By mid-December, he decided to do something about it. At first, Flint simply pulled his truck into a driveway whenever he saw an older person digging his or her way out and cleared a path, no charge; he started keeping lists and, with every fresh fall, would either return himself or dispatch one of his other two trucks to the same driveway. When one of the grateful seniors noted her local center had been closed for over a week by the treacherous conditions, Dennis Flint made his way to the site and singlehandedly cleared the entire parking lot, even climbing out of his truck to dig a walking path from the lot to the front door.

Two days after a January 15-16, 2011, snowstorm dumped about four fresh inches on the Greater Buffalo Region, one of the other Big D drivers, Gary Brown, noticed that his parents’ 55-and-over townhouse community in Tonawanda still wasn’t plowed and asked his boss for permission to clear it out. Dennis Flint agreed, and a new location was added to his charitable plowing list.

“It’s kind of ridiculous that these places weren’t plowed sooner, but it’s also understandable,” Dennis Flint said. “It seemed like it was snowing every day, and even with all of the companies they hired to help, town and county governments were having trouble keeping up. And for private businesses like senior centers, you have to remember, we were in the middle of a major recession – there was only so much money to spend on things like snow removal.

“So we were happy to help,” he added. “Seeing an old man struggle to dig out his car, that’s a no-brainer – you’re going to stop and help. But we were glad to keep showing up at these other places and lending them a hand when we could.”

Word of Flint’s good deeds spread quickly, and the legend of Amherst’s “White Knight” was born.

“He must have come here nine or ten times,” said Jennifer Cristiner, 74, a widow who lives alone in a two-story colonial off Spruce Road. “One day just before Christmas, I was in the driveway with my shovel and this big black truck pulled up and [Dennis Flint] leaned out of the window and said, ‘I’ll take care of that for you, ma’am.’ I thought it was John Wayne!

“And then he came back, nearly every time it snowed, like clockwork,” Cristiner added. “He never asked for a single dime. And I know he plowed out at least two of my neighbors’ drives, and at least once he cleared the entire parking lot at the Amherst Center for Senior Services.”

This winter has been much easier on the Buffalo region – before the Jan. 12-13 event, only 5.5 inches of snow had been recorded since the 2011-2012 season started. But as soon as the flakes started falling this week, Amherst’s “White Knight” was back in action.

“I’m really very happy to provide this service, and so are my other drivers,” Dennis Flint said. “That might not be my mother and father, but it’s somebody’s mother and father, somebody’s grandparents. I have the plows and the ability to help, so why wouldn’t I?”

Dennis Flint is 46 years old and the owner of Big D Towing in Amherst, New York. Recognized as a “Top Local Business Leader” in 2002 by the Amherst Town Council, he lives in nearby Kenmore with his wife, Lori, and their three children. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Dennis Flint is an avid hunter and stock car racing fan.

Well done, Dennis... we just need more public-spirited people like him, in the USA and elsewhere.

© 2012