Dec 13, 2012 - VOLUNTEER EDMONTON: MADD WORKS TO KEEP IMPAIRED DRIVERS OFF THE ROAD

I do not have the words to describe the all-encompassing, emotional experience of the loss of a loved one, friend or community member through the crime of impaired driving.

However at this time of year, when the opportunity for festivities gears up, taking a moment to pause and recognize how volunteers at Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) are working diligently to keep all of us safe and sound is a good idea.

Gillian Philips, initially a volunteer and now the spokeswoman for MADD Edmonton was willing to talk with me openly about how the absolute tragedy of losing her 16 year old daughter, Theresa McFaul, in this way 11 years ago affected her life.

Gillian connected with MADD during a time that she describes as “you know devastation”. She received support through them in her grieving process which she said never ends but changes. She found that when she began volunteering to support others she learned that “Helping others aided her family to cope with their grief tremendously”.

With time she focused her strength to take on the work of trying to prevent this tragedy from happening to anyone else.

Gillian wanted me to know that while many of the volunteers have been victims of impaired driving, volunteers are also folks who share a commitment to work at making the roads safe for everyone, all the time, day or night.

She also mentioned that while the organization’s name refers to mothers there is an equal amount of men who are involved at all levels of the organization. MADD’s volunteers come from all walks of life and all professions which makes the volunteer opportunities so enriching.

The work of MADD Canada Volunteers in their local chapters and nationally is tireless and multilayered. At the heart of their efforts are the victim services programs where volunteers offer support and resources to help those who have lost loved ones, or suffered injuries in impaired driving crashes.

These volunteer relationships are based on what the victims need and want at various times in their grief and healing. Thus it can involve daily or weekly emotional support on the telephone or in person.

Volunteers may accompany victims through the courts, and they may help them to write their victim impact statement. These relationships are significant and as Gillian explained there are victims she is still in contact with even after 7 years.

In MADD”S many public awareness and education programs, volunteers young and old work towards the goal of changing behaviours, and making everyone aware that driving when impaired is a criminal and potentially deadly act.

One of the many initiatives is focused on youth as motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15 to 25 year olds, and alcohol is a factor in 50% of those crashes.

I watched a MADD video that caught the reaction of students following a presentation. I was struck by the cognitive and emotional impact on both male and female students that was made; through their tears they seemed to really understand the danger!

Gillian talked with me about the changes the Alberta Government implemented in July and September of this year designed to discourage drinking and driving through tougher consequences for people at the .05 to .08 blood alcohol level.

She hopes there will be a 45% decrease in fatalities resulting from drunken driving that has been seen in other communities as a result of these changes.

MADD Canada and its chapters have historically worked to promote public policies that will address impaired driving and engages with government decision-makers, enforcement agencies and other stakeholders to identify policies, laws and administrative measures to reduce the thousands of impairment-related crashes. This work is done in conjunction with staff and volunteers and as you have read has an enormous impact on all of our safety.

Before I close I must talk about MADD’s Annual Red Ribbon campaign that was started 25 years ago as an awareness campaign to get the public thinking about the need for safe and sober driving. It runs from Nov 1, 2012 to Jan 1, 2013.

After speaking with Gillian I never realized how important those ribbons were to the victims of impaired driving. She said to me ” When I see the ribbons flapping in the air I feel tremendous support for what my family and I have gone through and the work MADD is doing”.

I will participate this year as it is the least I can do for those who through great personal tragedy have found a place in their lives to work at making the roads safer for all of us!

If you are interested in volunteering or finding out where to get your MADD Red Ribbon please contact the Edmonton off ice of MADD 780- 488-6233 or visit www.madd.ca

Source: The Edmonton Examiner


 

Last updated on: 2012-12-14 | Link to this post