Martha’s Vineyard SafeRides program extends hours for prom

The Martha’s Vineyard SafeRides will operate from 10 pm to 4 am on May 14, the night of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s (MVRHS) junior prom. Saturday night also marks the end of SafeRides’ operations for the 2010-2011 school year.

Although not affiliated with MVRHS, the student-run organization provides rides home, no questions asked, to Island teens that find themselves without transportation or in uncertain or unsafe situations.

The SafeRides telephone number is 508-939-9100.

The Island’s SafeRides program is chartered under the sponsorship of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The Vineyard Hebrew Center generously allows the SafeRides program to operate its base station there free of charge.

SafeRides has provided transportation for teens since 1998 and operates most Friday and Saturday nights, 10 pm to 2 am, from late fall through the weekend of the junior prom.

Earlier this year the valuable program was in jeopardy because of budget shortfalls. Thanks to an outpouring of financial support from the Island community, SafeRides received much more than the $3,000 needed to pay for volunteers’ liability insurance through BSA and monthly cell phone bills.

The Alexandra MM Gagnon Foundation board of trustees pledged $3,000 this year and for subsequent years, according to SafeRides adult leader Ben Retmier. The family of Ryan Mone and friends donated $3,000 in his honor. Another $1,500 came from Our Island Club and community members.

Sharky’s Cantina held a dine-to-donate event for SafeRides in February and contributed $626, a portion of all food sales that night.

“There’s no way we’ll let this program disappear due to funding shortfalls,” owner J.B. Blau said. “If Sharky’s has to host 25 of these nights a year, we’ll do it.”