It was 2007 and Lynn Brooks had just moved to Nanaimo when she began looking for ways to familiarize herself with the city.
Having relocated from Quesnel, Brooks had previously volunteered with a program called Highway Rescue, where she saw the ugly side of drunk driving.
It wasn’t long into her search that Brooks saw an advertisement for Operation Red Nose, a volunteer-based service that provides a safe and free alternative way home for those who have been drinking during the holiday season.
“When I saw this organization that I had never heard of, I was so excited because I can actually prevent that (drinking and driving) from happening,” she said.
So Brooks enthusiastically signed up as a volunteer.
Operation Red Nose has been operating for 20 years and is available to anyone regardless of age. The service allows people and their vehicles to get home safely free of charge. Last year, Operation Red Nose drove roughly 11,000 kilometres over 421 trips, taking an estimated 1,200 people.
“If a teen were at a party or something like that and they felt that they couldn’t get home safely, they could give Operation Red Nose a call if they didn’t have a number or money for a cab. We don’t want teenagers drinking and driving either. The service is open to anybody who feels that they are not able to drive safely,” said Ursula Weiss, coordinator for Operation Red Nose.
On Friday (Nov. 13) Operation Red Nose will officially kick off the 2015-16 holiday season at Nanaimo North Town Centre beginning at noon.
Weiss said her group is looking for volunteer drivers, navigators, escort drivers and dispatchers. Volunteers of all ages are welcome, however younger volunteers are in demand.
For Brooks, it’s the damage caused by impaired driving along with the service to the community that keeps her coming back to Operation Red Nose year after year.
“The most important thing is knowing that I am helping drunk people get off the road and getting them home safely,” Brooks said.
The service will be available the last weekend of November as well as the first three weekends in December and on New Year’s Eve.