Veteran volunteer makes sure everyone gets home safe
For the past decade, John Holmes has helped make sure his Delta neighbours get home safe and sound.
As a long-time volunteer for Operation Red Nose, Holmes donates his time during the holiday season to make sure revellers and merry-makers aren't tempted to drive home drunk, by offering them a free ride home.
Holmes was first introduced to the program while at a hockey tournament in Quebec, where Operation Red Nose was founded.
"I saw these fellows in dark suits, and they looked like masons," recalls Holmes.
"When they turned around, they were all wearing these red noses."
Intrigued, Holmes asked the men what they were up to, and they explained they were volunteer drivers for Operation Red Nose.
Volunteers work in three-person teams to offer holiday party-goers a safe ride home in their own car. One volunteer drives the party-goer's vehicle, while a second volunteer rides shotgun and navigates.
The third volunteer follows in their own vehicle to pick up the driver and the navigator up at their destination.
The service is provided free of charge, although donations are appreciated.
"I thought, what a great idea," says Holmes. "Where the heck was this when I was a lad?"
When the program came to Delta 10 years ago, Holmes jumped at the chance to help out.
For Holmes, every year he volunteers he is reminded why the Operation Red Nose program is so needed.
"The first year I volunteered we came across a car accident, caused by a drunk driver," he says. "It really hit home. If the driver had called us, no one would have been hurt."
Last year, Holmes was driving a man home from a local pub when they encountered a police road block.
"Thanks guys, you just saved me $7,000," the man told him.
This year, Operation Red Nose volunteers will be offering rides on Friday and Saturday nights for the rest of the month, as well as New Year's Eve.
Last year, the Delta chapter of Operation Red Nose gave 644 rides, logging more than 20,000 km.
Holmes says he is encouraged to see a younger crowd using Operation Red Nose's services in recent years.
"They don't take it as being wimpy to phone for help anymore, and that's great," he says.
While Holmes says he has seen it all in his 10 years of driving for Operation Red Nose, he won't divulge any details, as the service is confidential.
"We offer our clients total discretion," he says. "We don't talk about who we pick up. They deserve that."
Local donations go to support Delta Gymnastics, and the program is always looking for volunteers to help out.
"Even if you can only do one night, it's always valued," he says.
For more information, visit operationrednosedelta.com
• To book a safe ride home on Dec. 14, 15, 21, 22, or 31, call 604-943-0460.