"James" with Home James, poses with  Chatham-Kent OPP officers, November 18, 2016 (Photo by Jake Kislinsky)"James" with Home James, poses with Chatham-Kent OPP officers, November 18, 2016 (Photo by Jake Kislinsky)

Home James struggling to find volunteers

A local initiative that helps fight drunk driving is having a hard time finding volunteers.

The Home James program is currently operating its seventh year in the Chatham-Kent area. On each Friday and Saturday until New Years Day, residents can call Home James volunteers, who will drive them and their car home if they feel they are unfit to do so themselves. They operate between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. each night.

Their first weekend of operations for the holiday season took place November 23 and 24. Program coordinator Jodie Hogg said the number of people using the service has increased, but the numbers of volunteers they have is at an all-time low.

"Our rides were up 100 per cent and our volunteers were down 50 per cent," said Hogg. "We definitely need volunteers. Because our program is 100 per cent volunteer-run, if we don't get the volunteers our program might be in jeopardy."

During the course of the opening weekend, a total of eight volunteers gave out 52 rides. Hogg said her goal would be to have closer to 24 volunteers.

The program struggled to get volunteers last year as well. Hogg believes that all volunteer run programs are struggling to fill positions, but she is optimistic that anyone who takes part in the Home James program won't regret it.

"Even its just for one night. Usually, if they're new they come one night, have a lot of fun and end up coming back for a couple nights. Every ride is different, every vehicle is different. It's a good time," said Hogg.

There is no charge for those using the service but donations are encouraged. Over $70,000 has been raised since the program's inception and all of the donations are given back to local youth charities.

Home James has given thousands of rides over the years and it might be making a difference. During a RIDE program in Wallaceburg this weekend, police stopped over 250 cars and no breathalyzer tests had to be given.

Anyone wishing to get involved with Home James or learn more about the program can click here.

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