Brandon residents should not feel guilty about the unsatisfactory client donations and shortage of volunteers expressed in the Jan. 11 editorial for the Operation Red Nose (ORN) program.
Firstly, the true spirit of ORN is to keep impaired drivers off the streets during the holiday season by providing the incentive to have them and their vehicles escorted home. It is not intended to fundraise, although it forwards clients’ gratuities, in full, to worthy causes such as the Christmas Supper.
Part of protocol is to emphasize to clients that donations are not necessary. Any claim that client donations did not meet expectations is not valid. Clients have already done the right thing — preserving life and wellness by not driving impaired!
Secondly, improvements could be made to increase the ORN volunteer roster by making timely calls for volunteers using multiple media options and by offering intrinsic personal gratitude to its helpers. In 2004 and 2005, Kiwanis, managing the program at that time, did well to canvass for volunteers well in advance of the ORN operating period, which included inviting previous years’ volunteers to help again.
Nothing inspires my participation more than the personal gratitude implied by being invited to help again! The post-season letter of gratitude was just icing on the cake! Only temporary relocation to a different province kept me away for subsequent years. I did not receive an invitation from current management to participate in 2013, or a letter of thanks after my help for multiple weekends during the 2012 season, nor did I hear or see any advertised requests for volunteers.
As I engaged with more successful calls for help this season, ORN slipped my mind. I remember Kiwanis had 18 to 20 teams of three plus up to three dispatchers in 2004 and 2005 for New Year’s Eve, so I would suggest that they had a decent model for gathering and keeping volunteers. Only a few of their volunteers were actually members of Kiwanis, so you can’t argue that they simply staffed ORN with their own people.
After saying this, I must affirm my positive attitude toward ORN. It is an attractive option for arriving home safely after drinking. I commend the driver teams who weathered extremely cold weather and slippery roads this holiday season, the patient dispatchers who took clients’ calls, and the team supervisors.
Brandon’s volunteers, donors and people who make wise driving decisions should remain proud of their contributions to society. As members of one of the most generous provinces in the country, do not feel put to shame by the poor outcomes claimed on behalf of this year’s Operation Red Nose program!
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 14, 2014