HomeMoorestown NewsSafe Ride has been helping Moorestown students since 2008

Safe Ride has been helping Moorestown students since 2008

In 2007, the Moorestown school district was rocked when Moorestown Township High School senior Evan Welch, 18, and two other students, consumed alcohol and decided to drive home in the early morning on Dec. 9. Though not the driver, Welch died that morning when the car crashed. The cause of the accident was determined to be drunk driving.

But from the tragedy arose something positive, as several Moorestown Township High School students formed the Safe Ride program in memory of Welch. The program is completely run and operated by Moorestown students, who never want to see another one of their classmates die in a drunken-driving accident. The anonymous program offers students a safe ride home each Friday and Saturday night throughout the school year.

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Since being formed in 2008, Safe Ride has received 2,274 calls from students requesting rides.

This past week, the Rotary Club of Moorestown– which is the charter organization for the program — awarded Safe Ride a $750 grant for funding of the program’s phones, GPS units and additional costs.

George Schulman, executive adult officer of the charter organization and a past Rotary president, said the dedication from these students is nothing short of spectacular.

“It’s so inspiring. The kids really drove this; they wanted to do it (and) created this four years ago. It’s still run four years later when most of the kids don’t even know who Evan was, and for it to still as strong as it is, it’s a credit to those kids,” Schulman said. “It’s a new group every year, most of the adult volunteers are the parents of the kids that are in it.”

The Rotary is the charter organization of the Safe Ride program, but the Burlington County Council of the Boy Scouts of America is the umbrella organization that makes the whole program possible. The Scouts offer a similar type of program, Schulman said, and when approached they agreed to provide liability insurance for the Moorestown program.

The program is run out of the Moorestown Fire Department. A parent is always on hand to offer advice, but it’s a totally anonymous program with student drivers, navigators and dispatchers.

In 2007, Jack Sencindiver was an eighth-grade student at Moorestown Middle School. He didn’t know Welch personally, but was a close friend of his cousin. As a freshman, he became interested in the program and officially joined their ranks, working his way through the training and education to become a member.

He became president of the Safe Ride program as a junior and was re-elected as president this year.

“My class was in eighth-grade when it happened. We knew that it was a huge blow to the high school. As seniors now, we want to keep up the memory and momentum with incoming freshman this year for the program,” he said. “They don’t really know what happened, so we wanted to spread the word, let them know about our program, and keep his memory alive.”

Students can call Safe Ride between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. almost every Friday and Saturday during the school year until graduation weekend, Sencindiver said. Students can contact the program at (856) 669–8545.

The program has taken some criticism by residents in the township who believe it gives kids an easy way out if they drink, he said, but the bottom line is keeping Moorestown Township High School students safe if they make the wrong decision to get drunk.

“Some people think that it promotes drinking, that it gives them a way out. It was formed because these kids were drinking anyways — and getting into cars — so we wanted to help them,” he said.

Interested in becoming a volunteer for the program? Contact Safe Ride at Moorestownsaferide@yahoo.com or visit its Facebook page.

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