Kicking off this year’s Red Ribbon Campaign, the West Prince chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) decided to do something a little different with its annual open house.
Along with information on MADD, chicken stew and dumplings were available, along with coffee, juice, water and sweets.
“It’s after supper, it’s cold, out, and we thought it would be a perfect match,” said Kevin Maynard, chapter president of MADD.
Taking place in the meeting room at the O’Leary Town Complex, the open house allowed interested parties to see what it means to be a volunteer with MADD, and find out more about the work they do in the community.
In the meeting room, banners featuring Chad Gallant and Wendy Betts were hung up, along with a memorial wall featuring photos, too many to count, of victims of impaired driving.
Joanne Coughlin was one of the people in attendance. Her granddaughter, Jasmyn, is Chad’s step-daughter.
“My granddaughter had been telling me about it for quite some time, and I knew she was a member,” she said. “She invited me to come here tonight and I thought it would be a good opportunity to get involved.”
Not only did Ms Coughlin attend the open house, that night she signed up to be a volunteer with MADD. She noted how important MADD is when is comes to saving lives, and that MADD really opened her and her family’s eyes to what drinking and driving can cause to a family, and how it can change their lives.
Along with providing information, the open house was also interactive. Goggles were available to try on, each set featuring a different level of alcohol intoxication. There were also goggles for drug intoxication and cannabis as well.
Trying the goggles on is an interesting experience. One set showed what a medium level of intoxication (four drinks) would be like. Looking through them is like looking through a thick magnifying glass, and trying to pick something up is a challenge. You think you’re reaching for the right spot, but your hand is actually slightly to the left or right of the item you’re trying to pick up.
“With the goggles, I never really realized how much it can change your perception,” said Ms Coughlin. “I think that’s an excellent idea to show the kids what it can really do to a person, and not just kids, but adults too. It helps to make them realize.”
If a person is interested in becoming a member of MADD, the best thing to do would be to reach out to the West Prince chapter of MADD through social media, and a member can direct them to the right person to get in contact with.
Mr Maynard said a person doesn’t have to have a direct connection to impaired driving, whether that be criminally, or through fatality or injury, in order to become a member. They don’t even have to come to the meeting every month. All the have to do is show up once in a while, and know that the support is here.
“We take all ages, 13/14 year olds to 100 year olds,” he concluded. “Drinking and driving affects everybody, it’s not just the driving age people it affects. When a fatality happens in the family, it affects everybody, from birth to death.”