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Weston SafeRides helps prevent teens from drinking and driving

From left,  Caitlin Coates, Jackson Marvin, Jared Kapel, Anna Dickstein, and Dana Mitchell, students at Weston High School, are volunteers with Weston SafeRides. Other SafeRides board members not pictured are Alex Ishin, Jimmy Brasco, Marty Imber, Josh Karpen, and Malcolm McClintock.

From left, Caitlin Coates, Jackson Marvin, Jared Kapel, Anna Dickstein, and Dana Mitchell, students at Weston High School, are volunteers with Weston SafeRides. Other SafeRides board members not pictured are Alex Ishin, Jimmy Brasco, Marty Imber, Josh Karpen, and Malcolm McClintock.

Each year, thousands of teens are killed or injured in traffic accidents related to underage drinking. SafeRides is a national program designed to keep this number from rising.

The goal of the program is to provide a secure ride home to high school and college students who are either intoxicated or whose ride is intoxicated.

Pam Karpen, the adult adviser for Weston’s program, said she has been a part of SafeRides since it was first brought to Weston four years ago by high school student Haylee Winikoff.

Ms. Karpen said Weston operates its program on Saturdays from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. and currently has more than 100 student volunteers and 43 adult volunteers.

Volunteers meet at Weston Town Hall. Jared Kapel, a Weston High School senior and president of Safe Rides, said every Saturday night there are two dispatchers, two drivers, two adults, and a board member who oversees everything on hand.

Ms. Karpen said the program usually receives about five or six calls for service on a given night, but on busy weekends, SafeRides can receive anywhere from 15 to 20 calls.

As an all-volunteer organization, SafeRides relies on donations for supplies and  equipment.

To raise money for SafeRides, Jared said, he and the other members of the program placed collection jars at the registers of Peter’s Market. The program has also generated money from two fund-raising movie premieres and has received donations from other fund-raising events in town and organizations like the Weston Women’s League, which donated $1,000.

Jared said he has been involved with SafeRides since his freshman year, when he joined the founding board. But the program did not become operational until his sophomore year.

Although Jared does not have a personal reason for joining the cause, he said, drinking and driving is a pertinent issue that needs attention.

“I just want to make it easier for kids to get home safe,” said Jared. “I just don’t even want to have them consider drinking and driving. I’d rather just always have SafeRides as a viable option.”

Though the program has a full staff of student volunteers, it is in need of more adults. For insurance purposes, Jared said, it is essential to have adults on site when SafeRides is operating.

Adults may become volunteers by visiting saferides.com/Weston or by calling Pam Karpen at 203-227-2917.

Teenagers may also join the cause by visiting the program’s website or by calling any of the student board members. Jared may be reached at jaredkapel@gmail.com or 203-246-0038.

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