It’s not the inclement weather, but the lack of volunteers that is putting the popular Operation Red Nose program for Langley and Surrey in jeopardy this holiday season.
The first weekend out – in late November – the early-morning callers (after midnight) had to wait for up to two hours for an ORN team to chauffeur them and their vehicles home.
The demand for this service is that “great,” said Tattina Tedaka-Slavik, a customer service rep with Langley Gymnastics – the organization operating and benefitting from the annual program.
Then, on Dec. 9 the service gave 52 rides, and on Dec. 10 it gave 73.
“That was our biggest weekend so far,” said organizer Mike Biggin.
ORN is a volunteer program offered during the holidays that aims to provide a free designated driver service to get the clients and their vehicle home safe.
While there is no charge for the service, it is a fundraiser, and organizers hope people will consider a donation.
The service started at the end of November, and runs Fridays and Saturdays leading up to Christmas (Dec. 16, 17, and 31 still to come), and New Year’s Eve, from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m.
The first weekend of the month, the local ORN had to cancel its service on the Friday because of a lack of volunteers, Tedaka-Slavik explained.
The local ORN typically run with at least eight teams of three (a driver who pilots the client and their vehicle home, a navigator, and an escort driver) on the designated nights. There is also a team of volunteers who work in the office, taking calls, and coordinating pickups and drop offs.
On Friday, Dec. 2, there were only two teams of drivers available, and that wasn’t sufficient to operate, Tedaka-Slavik explained.
“We could always use more driving teams,” said Biggin.
Anyone interested in volunteering, is asked to visit their website.
Volunteers to work in the office or serve as navigators must be 19 years of age or older, while drivers must be 21.
Last year, ORN Langley-Surrey raised more than $30,000 for the Langley Gymnastics.
It’s hoped this year’s service will raise similar numbers, but it will, Tedaka-Slavik said, depend on the number of volunteers and the volume of calls.
To get home safe, people can call 604-532-0888. People who live outside of Langley/Surrey can still use Operation Red Nose. The local office will coordinate with ORN services in most other Lower Mainland communities to get people and their vehicles home.