Friday, November 17, 2017

Safe Ride Home Sudbury

The inaugural Safe Ride Home Sudbury campaign begins operating tonight. President Lesli Green split from the national Operation Red Nose organization after eighteen years, saying that a made-in-Sudbury program will address local issues more effectively.

As before, Safe Ride Home Sudbury will see volunteer teams dispatched to drive people home in their own vehicles if they believe they have imbibed too much holiday cheer. It is a free service, although donations are gratefully accepted. These donations support local youth athletic activities, while all the expenses of the program are born by very generous corporate partners and sponsors. The program will run every Friday and Saturday from now until the end of the year and finish up on New Years Eve, a total of fifteen evenings.

The new brand necessitated a new mascot. Stewie the Sober Bear was built in Toronto to Lesli's specifications. We drove down last month and picked him up at the factory, so to speak.

 Greg, Stewie and Lesli yesterday

Lovely vehicle provided by Cambrian Ford 

R.I.D.E sobriety spot check yesterday to promote the program launch

Once again, I will be the Volunteer Coordinator. This involves receiving applications and background checks from the Greater Sudbury Police Service, acknowledging them and entering them in a database. Reminders are sent out for the nights each volunteer selected. When they show up at the headquarters at NORCAT, they are assembled into teams of Escort Driver (delivers the team to clients), Designated Driver (drives the clients in their own vehicle) and, sometimes, Navigator (handles the paper work and usually accompanies the DD in the client vehicle). I am also the head trainer, providing orientation sessions to new volunteers, and oversee the front of the HQ much of the time.

When all the HQ stuff is done, I usually hit the road with my regular partner JM (who also becomes Stewie for promotional activities).

I have been involved in sober driving initiatives for twenty-five years. In 1993, Norm Hein and I worked with police services to develop the Snowmobile Trail Officer Patrol, which helped police interdict impaired sledders. I was also active for a number of years in Action Sudbury - Citizens Against Impaired Driving. Several years ago, I gravitated towards Operation Red Nose and this past year, I helped with the development of and transition to Safe Ride Home Sudbury.

So don't worry about me for the rest of the year. I will be busy and having fun all at the same time.