As MADD South Carolina is off to a great start in the 2019 New Year, we wanted to take a chance to reflect back and highlight what incredible things happened in 2018 for us. We have experienced important growth in our events and staff, strengthening us for the hard fight ahead. Here’s our Top 10 2018 highlights!
- Our “New Look” Walk Like MADD Columbia. Our Columbia Walk Leadership Team took a bold new approach for our 5th annual Walk Like MADD event by moving the location and time—a Saturday night at the SC Criminal Justice Academy. We also asked law enforcement all over the state to do enforcement that night to “Shine A Light on DUI.” Much of that enforcement was dedicated to a specific local victim. The reviews were very positive! Our walkers liked the different (and cooler) feel to the Walk and loved getting video check-ins with the law enforcement in the field. Everyone wanted us to do it again for 2019, so come to Walk Like MADD Columbia 2019 if you missed it this year.
- Growing Staff. We added two important positions in 2018—our first ever Volunteer Resources Specialist and a Project Coordinator for our Court Monitoring projects. Our VRS has allowed us much greater visibility through volunteer recruitment and a much faster response time when inquiries come in. Because volunteers fuel our impact, this position will have an important role for years to come.
- Growing Victim Services. From October 2017 to September 2018 (our grant year), our team served almost 500 individuals, the most ever. Of course, it’s not just about numbers; all across the state our Victim Services Specialist became an integral part of the grief journeys for our victims and survivors and gave them invaluable support in their court proceedings. A sad but powerful tribute to the need for victim services was demonstrated through our new Victim Memorial Wall that we had at many events with dozens of pictures of those injured or killed. We are saddened for each picture we add but honored those families allow us to serve them.
- First Responders Partnerships. Whether it was holding our Columbia Walk at the Criminal Justice Academy or the Zero Proof MADD Mocktail Mix-Off at the Columbia Fire Department or thanking our officers at dozens of Law Enforcement Network meetings across the state, we spent more time than ever this year in the presence of our first responder heroes. In appreciation of their work, we debuted HERO challenge coins, awarded special recognitions at the state DUI enforcement awards luncheon, and brought victims to their meetings to offer thanks and motivation. At three Hands Across The Border events, we were able to spread that appreciation to law enforcement in Georgia and North Carolina as well.
- Court Monitoring Report. In late August, MADD SC released its second Court Monitoring Report, sharing results on what happened with the adjudications of first offense misdemeanor DUI arrests in Greenville, Pickens, Richland, and Kershaw Counties. The media response was considerable once again as we educated the public about our state’s challenging prosecution environment, especially due to our video dash cam law and our practice of having officers prosecute DUI cases in many areas. You can read the report here (https://www.madd.org/south-carolina/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2018/08/2018-SC-Court-Monitoring-Report-min.pdf) and check out one of the more in-depth media stories here (https://www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article216727400.html) . We also began Court Monitoring in Charleston, Horry, and Berkeley Counties and look forward to eventual data releases from that “Coastal Court Monitoring” project.
- Strengthened Corporate Partnerships. 2018 was a year of several new or strengthened partnerships with companies that have embraced our mission and our need to grow our capacity. While each new partnership is so important to strengthening our mission, we have to highlight Yarborough Applegate (State Victim Services Sponsor) and the amazing commitment and generosity of Hot Spot Convenience Stores. Hot Spot not only sponsored Walk Like MADD Greenville Upstate, but they also held a raffle for a new ATV at all their stores that resulted in a check of more than $21,000 for the Walk. Incredible! There were dozens of other wonderful businesses, including new partnerships with Uber and AAA Carolinas, so we can’t name them all. Collectively, they contributed to our best year of fundraising and helped us share the mission with many more people across the state.
- Incredible Volunteers and Board Members. We simply could not do what we do without the amazing volunteers across the state. Whether it is sharing their victim/survivor stories at Victim Impact Panels, helping plan a Walk Like MADD, doing media interviews, or providing support to victims, we are fortunate to have a great group of volunteers that adds wonderful new people all the time. We give a special shout-out to all the involvement in 2018 by USC students, from our Bachelor of Social Work victim services interns to the Chi Psi fraternity that held a fundraiser golf tournament to benefit MADD to more than a dozen students that bolstered our media efforts through Kelly Davis’ Public Relations classes.
- Power of You(th) Expansion. Under the leadership of our Underage Drinking Program Specialist, Ashley Merrick, interest in our youth underage drinking presentation grew considerably this year. From July 2017 to June 2018, she delivered our Power of You(th) program to more than 5,000 students! Then this Red Ribbon Week (October 2018), she presented to more than 2,000 students in several different parts of the state.
- Zero Proof MADD Mocktail Mix-Off. After a hurricane delay of two months, MADD SC held its first Zero Proof MADD Mocktail Mix-Off on November 27th, and everyone had a blast! Several restaurant and bartender competitors mixed up some delicious non-alcoholic drinks that our judges and all attendees voted on. The Root Doctors rocked the fire station while some attendees got some great deals on our silent auction items. The media coverage was excellent as we celebrated designated drivers during the Tie One On For Safety season.
- Expanded Victim Impact Panels. In 2018, we added two new Victim Impact Panels—Rock Hill and Mount Pleasant. Now there are eight cities with VIPs either monthly or every other month where our victim speakers tell their emotional stories in an effort to impact those court-ordered to attend. We are always grateful for all our VIP volunteers, many of which have been hosting the panels for years.
With all we have accomplished, it only means our plans are even greater for 2019. We will not stop for a simple reason: we have not reached the day of No More Victims.
So stay in touch and watch us go. Even better, get involved and amplify what we can accomplish together!