There are many consistencies, and the constant success of the HomeJames program in Caledon is shaping up to be one of them. And this year’s program is already off to a successful start.
HomeJames – Caledon Chairman Tayler Parnaby reported things are “terrific” for the first several evenings it has been running this year. As of Dec. 15, he announced the program had provided rides to 199 motorists who were concerned they might have had too much to drink, also getting 420 passengers home safe too. So far this year, there’s been a major increase in the number of rides requested. “This year’s number is 54 per cent higher than the year before,” Parnaby said. “That’s a whack of people.” The program is making use of SmartPhone technology this year, and Parnaby said it’s been making a difference. About 30 per cent of the calls received so far have been from SmartPhones. “It’s incredible the difference this thing has made,” he declared. The program has also received lots of support from local businesses. Car dealers in town have stepped up again, plus Enterprise Car Rental, providing shuttle vehicles, and Parnaby said they are making additional vehicles available for especially busy nights. Parnaby also said Tim Hortons outlets throughout the area have let HomeJames volunteers use their facilities as staging areas, putting them in more convenient places from which to respond to calls. HomeJames is a service which people can call if they think they may have had too much to drink and are not fit to drive. A team of volunteers is dispatched to collect the driver and passengers, and get them and their vehicle to their destination. One volunteer actually drives the client’s car with the client and passengers inside. The navigator, using SmartPhone dispatch system, coordinates the trip. The other volunteer drives the shuttle vehicle. Although this is a free service, voluntary contributions are always gratefully received. And the supply of volunteers has increased this year. Parnaby said all the shifts up to (but not including) New Year’s Eve have sufficient people lined up. “We have some work to do for December 31,” he observed, adding a party, compete with door prizes, is planned for the volunteers that evening. Parnaby also pointed out it’s clear the program works. “There is much more general awareness of the dangers of impaired driving and the presence of HomeJames,” he said, adding the police have expressed their appreciation that the program is in place. “You’re making it safe for a whole lot of others.” Written by Bill Rea