The local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is hoping to attract more volunteers as they continue to raise awareness about the dangers of impaired driving.
Currently, there just aren’t enough volunteers onboard to help promote and plan various events and activities throughout the year, said Aleta Neville, president of the local chapter of MADD, which was formed in 1993.
Neville can sadly relate to the horrendous pain of being affected by the actions of an impaired driver. She lost her son Brent to an impaired driver in March of 2006.
He was 21.
“We do need new volunteers to be able to help us carry on with all the duties,” she said.
“The most important thing people also need to realize is that you don’t have to be a victim to be a volunteer.
“We have a volunteer who is not a victim (of impaired driving) who has been with us for 20 years, and she’s been so gracious with her time in helping out with everything in the chapter. We just need more people.
“It’s everyone’s responsibility. If everyone would just come forward and do a little bit, it would make a world of difference.”
Victims certainly bring much passion to working with the chapter, but people who have never experienced the tragedy of losing someone to a drunk driver do as well, plus lots of ideas to strengthen the organization.
There are a number of events that run year-round that rely on volunteer planning and execution, such as presentations, fundraising events and awareness activities as well.
“We’ve only got four people on our executive,” she said.
“And they’re doing all the duties.” These run the gamut from various presentations, bookings for schools, the Charity Checkstop, the voluntary toll (in the spring) and the annual candlelight vigil to court monitoring and the Red Ribbon campaign.
There are also the victim services supports that MADD offers.
Neville said the ideal situation would be if they had someone to take care of Project Red Ribbon, another to organize the candlelight vigil in November, and someone to also handle the Strides for Change fundraising walk in June. Another volunteer could book presentations for schools or organize the voluntary toll in May.
The voluntary toll has been successful for the chapter, raising more than $12,000 in its first year and $13,000 in its second year this past spring.
“Two years ago, MADD Canada chose Red Deer as a pilot project for it. We put it together, and it was so successful we decided to make it an annual event.
“We always do it the day before Mother’s Day.”
Meanwhile, the Project Red Ribbon Campaign runs from mid-November through to the beginning of January, she said. There wasn’t an official local launch this year, but folks can arrange to pick up the ribbons at the local office by calling 403-347-9922.
According to MADD Canada, on average, four Canadians are killed and 175 are injured every day in Canada by impaired drivers annually.
Approximately 65,000 Canadians are impacted by impaired drivers each year as well.
“The reason we do what we do is so other families don’t get that knock on the door,” she said. “And nobody is immune to these tragedies. It can happen to anybody out there. Those people on the roads who are drinking and driving and taking other people’s lives, they aren’t picking their victims.”
Neville believes there should be random breath testing in Canada to step up the deterrence factor. “If you have nothing to hide, then it should be worth your time.
“Every place that it’s going on already, there’s a huge, huge decrease in fatalities. The thing is, there isn’t enough of a deterrent. (It would help) if they knew that the police could pull them over at any time. We also need stiffer sentencing.
“What’s a life worth? And look at the ripple effect on families.”
As Neville points out, the pain of losing someone doesn’t fade.
“I’ll always be involved with MADD at some level. I do it because I don’t want to see other families living the nightmare that we do every day.
“It’s been almost eight years, but it’s a scab on your heart that keeps bleeding and bleeding,” she said. “It never stops.”
For more information about MADD or volunteer opportunities, call the local chapter office at 403-347-9922 or visit www.madd.ca/reddeer.