Ministry to offer safe rides on Halloween night

Alan Grimes

Halloween is this Saturday, which also means that the Relevant Campus Ministry will be aiding those that have had a few drinks by helping them find a safe way home.

The Safe Rides Home program was created by Deb Heino and her husband eight years ago.

It is a program designed for those who have been out at parties and bars, but cannot or do not want to drive themselves home for whatever reason.

“I felt that it was important to me to help get students back home,” Heino said.

When Heino originally started the program, the number of people that required a ride was staggering.

Over the years, the numbers have decreased, but Heino believes that so long as there are people that need a ride home, the program serves a very important role at NMU.

No matter what condition they are in, or what they have done over the night, Heino makes sure that the confidentiality of those that receive a ride is preserved.

If there are individuals who prove to be too much of a problem or are being particularly difficult to her or her drivers, Heino has the police on speed-dial.

Last year, the program did not run due to a lack of drivers, and other issues that came up such as people volunteering but not having a driver’s license.

There is no open alcohol permitted in the transport vehicles, as it puts both students and the drivers in danger. Heino does not want to see volunteers arrested over something such as this, and once considered shutting down the program if a solution wasn’t found.

The program is running at a very limited capacity this Halloween due to the lack of volunteers. Heino even considered not running it this year, but her daughter, Joni Heino, who was helping with the program when it launched since she was in middle school, was determined to see it run this year, even if it was just the two of them working.

Heino would like to see Safe Rides operate outside of St. Paddy’s Day and Halloween, but without the student-strength in the form of volunteers, it’s only a dream to her.

“Students have been wanting it for a long time, and have even wanted to do it themselves,” Heino said. “If each house took a weekend to volunteer, we could operate for a full year instead of just the holidays.”

The husband and wife team supply the vehicles and gas necessary for the program to operate. It is a non profit program, but has received donations in the past. Donations go toward filling up the vehicles and providing snacks to the volunteers.

Chelsea Fuhr, freshman international studies major, had heard of similar programs but not of the Safe Rides program. She said she would consider the program if the need ever arose.

“It could potentially stop a lot of accidents and save a lot of lives,” Fuhr said.

If students are interested in contacting Heino to volunteer or are looking into getting a safe ride home, they can reach her at (906)362-4669.