This week, Keeping Us Safe proudly celebrates six years of providing services to older drivers and their families. Founded on November 3, 2008, Keeping Us Safe has dedicated itself to improving the mortality rate of older drivers, while simultaneously providing an invaluable service to concerned families.
Keeping Us Safe’s Greatest Honor in 2014:
When asked what he was most proud of during the past year, Matt Gurwell, founder of Keeping Us Safe explained “It was the development of the ‘Bill and Betty Fresch Outstanding Achievement Award’, which is now awarded annually to the one Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional who has gone above and beyond our expectations in helping to deliver this program to the community. The award is named after Bill and Betty Fresch of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, who, after becoming lost while driving in January, 2011, were found days later frozen to death in a farm field in Frederick County, Maryland.”
Gurwell adds “It is a huge honor to have gotten to know the Fresch family. They are a very caring, loving and compassionate family who always looked out for their parents. The family had taken many steps to help keep their parents safe while driving, but unfortunately, their parents’ diminishing cognitive abilities exceeded the safeties the family had put in place.”
“This story, and many others like it, serve as a constant reminder to me personally of not only how precious life is, but also how critically important the issue of properly addressing diminished driving skills is.” explains Gurwell. “The courage the Fresch family has demonstrated in publicly sharing their story in hopes of keeping a similar tragedy from striking other families is both commendable and remarkable. Having the Fresch family agree to name this award after their parents is Keeping Us Safe’s greatest honor, not only for 2014, but in our entire business tenure.”
Keeping Us Safe’s Greatest Achievement in 2014:
Gurwell attributes the success of Keeping Us Safe directly to the quality, dedication and professionalism of its Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” (BDD) Professionals. He explains that collectively, they represent Keeping Us Safe’s greatest achievement for the year. “The passion and dedication displayed by each and every one of our BDD Professionals is beyond reproach” Gurwell explains.
These individuals, deployed in communities across the United States and Canada, have been trained and certified by Keeping Us Safe to facilitate its “self-assessment program” for older drivers.
Keeping Us Safe’s Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals are on the front line, working with older drivers and their families every day. Put another way, they are saving lives and providing untold relief to concerned families on a daily basis. Gurwell refers to Keeping Us Safe’s BDD Professionals as some of life’s unsung heroes. “They are very good at what they do”, Gurwell explains, “and that is providing families with the missing link between their desire to bring this issue to a peaceful resolution, and their ability to actually do so.”
“As an organization, we have used our years of experience to better define the attributes of a successful applicant into the certification program. We are now far more selective in the types of professionals that are accepted into the program, and not everyone that applies is accepted. We still have active members from our very first training session held in August, 2011; in many ways those earlier pioneers serve as mentors for our newer members.” Gurwell explained.
“Having the good fortune of working with such high quality professionals has been very humbling,” Gurwell explains, “each and every one of our BDD Professionals is representative of Keeping Us Safe’s greatest achievement.”
A Family Recently Touched by Keeping Us Safe:
Last month, one of Keeping Us Safe’s Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals facilitated a self-assessment with a lovely older driver who resides outside of Dayton, Ohio. After the session, the family submitted the following correspondence:
Our mother was 93 years old this year and was driving only in town, where the speed limit is 25 mph for her daily errands. When we were recently notified by the local police of their observations and reports from residents concerned for her safety, the family didn’t feel ready to ask her to stop driving.
After a few months, one family member learned of “Keeping Us Safe” and their programs designed for older drivers. When reading about their founder’s professional background as a state trooper and his personal commitment for this growing need in our aging population, it felt like a perfect fit to schedule a one-on-one session. Their conversational approach through personal and driving abilities was a foundation for us to follow through on the recommendation that “the time for her to stop driving was now”.
As well as the individualized session with our mother, information provided in their “Beyond Driving with Dignity” workbook provided a solid guideline for communicating our decision and for making plans for her transportation needs in a way that allowed her to participate and even enjoy allowing others to drive. Of course there was emotion and resistance to the idea at first, but it only lasted for one day before she was proudly declaring to caretakers, friends and family that “she” was giving up driving.
We are all so relieved and surprised that the transition went as smoothly as it did. It can only be due to the personal level of care and experiential assessment that was provided for us and our mother. If this has been on your mind for your loved one, please don’t wait another day.
Terri Eastman, Yellow Springs, Ohio
“It is very rewarding to receive positive feedback like this from families who have used our services to help a loved-one make a smooth transition from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat.” stated Gurwell. These comments serve to validate the life-saving services provided by Keeping Us Safe’s dedicated “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals.
Perhaps Diane Walz, Certified BDD Professional from Sarasota, Florida put it best when she explained “Helping families is not what we do…it’s who we are.”
For additional information on Keeping Us Safe’s programs and services, please visit their website at www.keepingussafe.org or call toll-free at 877-907-8841.
- Jo Rinehart, daughter of the late Bill and Betty Fresch, now serves on Keeping Us Safe’s five- member Executive Vision Committee.
- The 2014 winner of the ‘Bill and Betty Fresch Outstanding Achievement Award’ was Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional Nancy Schuster, MBA, of Cincinnati, Ohio.