I started volunteering for RightRides in 2006, first as a Navigator, then a Dispatcher, then finally as a Driver, too. There really are two reasons I volunteer for RightRides. First, it's incredible to be making such a tangible difference in New York City - I am, on my volunteer nights, taking a number of people home safely. Second, it's some of the most fun volunteering that I've ever done. Especially in New York City, where nobody has a car, it's a real treat to turn on the radio and drive around for an evening. Doing good while seeing the city? It's a win-win-win situation!!!
When Right Rides first started out I was at a point in my life where I couldn't really afford the luxury of taking cab rides home late at night. I was so thankful to have Right Rides to help get me home safely. I'd much rather pay for the service by giving of my own time, so I started volunteering for Right Rides too. I try to put in a shift for every time I utilize the service. There are so many people -- women, gay, gender queer, and beyond -- who can benefit from Right Rides, I just hope that Right Rides can continue to garner the added volunteer power to help more people. The system works great when there are enough people there to support it.
RightRides has always embodied amazing direct service organization to me. I first heard about the RightRides program when it launched five years ago, when volunteers had to use their own cars and RightRides only went to Lower Manhattan, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg. RightRides now serves 45 NYC neighborhoods in 4 boroughs, on Friday and Saturday night. Women, LGBTQ and genderqueer folks are all eligible for a safe ride home. In these tough economic times, less and less people can afford safe passage home, and more and more people are out working late. RightRides has grown exponentially, and really needs more volunteers to handle the number of ride requests RightRides receives every weekend. As a volunteer, I've met amazing, fun, and interesting people-- other volunteers and riders/clients both. Driving around and picking up people who just want to get home safely late at night gives me an amazing feeling of making the world a better place, one person at a time.
I found out about Right Rides through my Zipcar newsletter and instantly thought this is a worthy cause and something I could really get into. I have been volunteering for a little over 2 months and absolutely love it! I have had to ride the train home in the wee hours of the morning and as a woman alone, it can be quite scary. Knowing there is an alternative is very comforting and I see it in every grateful rider we see safely home.
I discovered RightRides through Zipcar, which generously donates cars for the service every weekend. I thought the idea behind the service--a free, safe ride home at night for women and LGBT folks--was brilliant, simple, and incredibly compelling. Volunteer training and the nighttime shifts are upbeat and friendly, and the time flies by.
When I first heard about RightRides' Mission, namely to provide women and LGBTQ individuals safe passage home at a time when gender-based violence is on the rise in NY, I was immediately interested. With a rash of violence directed toward women and LGBT people in the news recently, I wanted to do something to help alleviate the problem. Everyone deserves the piece of mind to be sure that when they leave somewhere late at night, they will make it home without harassment or danger of physical harm. That's what RightRides does: provides free rides, late at night to mitigate the threat violence to people who are unfortunately targeted with relative frequency. Along with a friend we signed up for a brief and easy training to familiarize us with the different duties and responsibilities of Drivers and Navigators. After the training session we were eager to start our first shift hauling people around late night Friday and Saturday. From my very first shift I knew this was an organization worth championing. First and (perhaps selfishly), the volunteering time itself is FUN! You get to drive around and explore parts of New York and the burroughs that you never would by foot, you meet interesting and friendly people, and you have the satisfaction of knowing that they all got home safe after a long night. I just finished training as a Dispatcher, which unlike the Driver and Navigator duties, you can complete from home. I'm looking forward to filing some time as Dispatcher to help field calls and direct teams to people that need to be picked up. RightRides is wonderful organization with a (small but growing) team of wonderful volunteers and organizers united by the belief that no one should have to constantly look over their shoulder out of fear of harm just because they're trying to get home and happen to be "different" (whether it's a difference of sex, gender, gender conformity, sexuality, etc.).