A normal Friday or Saturday night for Greenwich teen John Cofer involves ensuring the safety of his peers through the Safe Ride Program. The Greenwich chapter of the American Red Cross recently named Cofer volunteer of the month for his work.
Cofer became involved with Safe Rides in 2009 during his sophomore year. "I decided to join the program because I wanted to become more involved in my community, and Safe Rides seemed to be a fairly popular and accessible program," he said.
Over the past year, Cofer said he has learned the importance of teamwork and communication. "It can sometimes be hard to make decisions such as how to handle a sudden large volume of calls when we only have a limited number of vehicles. Or what to do when a car gets a flat tire at 1:30 in the morning," he said. "Both have happened."
Safe Rides runs every Friday and Saturday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Cofer said he starts a typical night by arriving early to open and make sure the Red Cross vehicles are working. He then meets with the "Adult on Premises," a volunteer who serves as the mentor throughout the night. "Starting at 10, we take calls from anyone calling the Safe Rides number," he said. "If I am the team leader for that night, I will take the call, record information and dispatch a co-ed team of one driver and one passenger to pick the caller up."
Cofer said some have a misconception that the Safe Rides Program promotes partying and drinking. "What many of these people don't realize is that it not only gives teens a way to avoid dangerous situations but also helps keep everybody in Greenwich safer," he said. "By decreasing the amount of drunk drivers on the roads, it directly impacts the lives of not only the teens using the service but of everyone driving at night."
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