St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Ridgefield, CT 203.438.3789

March 6, 2019

Belonging with Purpose – SafeRides & St. Stephen’s*

SafeRides and St. Stephen’s have been in relationship for some 25 years.  SafeRides is a club which requires an organization’s sponsorship.  St. Stephen’s agreed to sponsor SafeRides in Ridgefield more than two decades ago.  Eliza Shanley and former parishioner, Bill Snellings, both shared their value of this program with Whitney when they were first talking with her back in 2012.

Every Friday and Saturday night youth volunteer their time, hanging out on campus with adult chaperones nearby.  They have provided thousands of confidential safe rides home- no questions asked- to the youth of Ridgefield. Each year approximately 200 high school students volunteer to provide this important service to their peers.  Although the program has a team of adult advisors, with our own Nicola Evans among them, it is essentially run by student volunteers. Support and training are provided by Officer Fernando Luis, a Ridgefield Police Department member and Ridgefield High School (RHS) Resource Officer, and Chief Jerry Myers of the Ridgefield Fire Department.                                                

According to Chief Myers, “Since SafeRides has been in operation, we have not had a serious accident involving teen drivers during the hours that SafeRides operates. If there was no other reason to support the program, that fact alone would be enough, but there are plenty more.” See www.saferidesofridgefield.org.  Chief Jerry Myers grew up attending St. Stephen’s.  His father was the Sexton here.

SafeRides has its annual fundraiser by offering our Pancake Supper on Shrove Tuesday.  The adult advisors of SafeRides acknowledge the support of Chris Sexton of Hoo Doo Brown BBQ, Heather Neumann Salaga and Stefanie Westwrick.  They also acknowledge the commitment of RHS students who are team captains: Eleanor Andresen, Yohann Britto, Emma Brody, Jack Dowd, Dylan Flood, Arden Grant, Cate Irving, Bianca Labuschagne, Claire Middlebrook, Sophie Reale, James St. Pierre, Caitlin Slaminko, Clay Vaughan and Quentin Vergara.

SafeRides addresses a need in our community.  Our (St. Stephen’s) willingness to support this program shows our willingness to support people in life, without judgment.  Ginny Fitzpatrick picked up a voicemail at the office one Monday morning in which a mother was thanking us for hosting SafeRides.  Because of this program, her daughter got home safely that weekend.  Our ability to make the difference in one person’s life makes all of the difference to us.

Special thanks to Linda Berry for writing most of this story.

*Belonging with Purpose is a weekly news update of how our purpose is being reflected through the collective and individual lives of St. Stephen’s.  If you have a story or experience that you believe illustrates our Vision and Mission, please send it to Ginny Fitzpatrick, gfitzpatrick@ststephens-ridgefield.org  The staff works together to create a schedule for highlighting our ministry as St. Stephen’s Church.

Visit us at: www.ststephensridgefield.org

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