Volunteers needed for SAFE Ride OTD project - kotanow.com- Scottsbluff Area News, Sports, and Weather

Volunteers needed for SAFE Ride OTD project

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The SAFE Ride OTD Project is seeking volunteer drivers to assist in its mission to keep the roads safe during Oregon Trail Days.  Now in its third year, the project has evolved.  “The first year, we learned a lot,” said project coordinator Lisa Betz  “Last year, we got bright, lime green T-shirts that identified us as part of the project and magnetized signs for our cars that let law enforcement know who we were at checkpoints.  We also started posting drivers directly outside the bars to catch people leaving at closing time,” she said.  “Believe it or not, we have a lot of fun doing this.”

Last year the group reported giving more than 200 rides to Oregon Trail Days revelers.  “It’s not about drinking, despite what some believe,” she said.  “We have met the nicest people and no one has ever been violent or sick,” she said.  “Couples have thanked us for making it possible to have fun together without one of them sitting out as the designated driver.” 

Betz said the service leaves a good impression with out-of-town visitors too.  “We have received high praise for the community from riders who especially appreciated free bottled water and cold pizza offered to them while they waited for a ride,” she said.  “People from the cities don’t understand this hospitality because it is not typical in larger communities.”

Betz said the project cannot operate without drivers.  “We have several volunteers who love to do it but have family reunions and other conflicts this year,” she said.  “We desperately need more drivers for this year or I’m concerned we may have to cancel the service for Saturday night, which would be a shame.”

The key time periods when drivers are needed are from midnight to 1:30 a.m. both Friday and Saturday nights, July 11-12.  An informational meeting for volunteers will be held onMonday, July 7, at 5:30 p.m. at the Gering Citizen offices on 10th Street.  Anyone interested is encouraged to attend.

 Drivers need to have their own vehicle, gas and insurance.  “This is a community volunteer service,” she said.  “Though most of the riders do tip, one shouldn’t do this for the money.”   SAFE Ride was created so that we don’t have to endure a tragedy in our community during Gering’s biggest weekend of fun,” she said.  “We started it because we love the people of our community and we love Oregon Trail Days.”

For more information about SAFE Ride OTD or to get involved, call Lisa Betz at (308) 672-1114.

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