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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Your Safe Ride Home may come to an end

Matt Riebe
Matt Riebe, founder of Your Safe Ride Home, is currently struggling with finances to keep his business afloat. Photo credit: Prin Mayowa

For many of the solo stragglers walking the streets of Chico in the wee hours of the morning, Your Safe Ride Home has become a haven. It has rescued sober and drunk students from long, lonely, unsafe walks in the dark. However, this safe ride may come to an end.

Matthew Riebe, 21, fears the business he pioneered with his friends may be coming to an end if he doesn’t get enough volunteers or money to make it sustainable.

“Your Safe Ride Home has kind of consumed my life,” Riebe said. “I’ve been working on keeping it afloat.”

He has been feeling that Your Safe Ride Home has taken a toll on him, he said.

“Being the one guy who’s trying to run this organization and help all these people is a lot of responsibility on one person,” he said. “I don’t have the superpowers to really make it happen.”

As the school year starts to see its end, Your Safe Ride Home has slowly started to lose its large support system. The amount of students volunteering has started to dwindle.

“The sad thing is when you stop seeing it become the cool thing to be a part of, people stop wanting to make it a priority,” Riebe said. “And since we are running our services for free, we don’t have the profit to incentivize people to stay longer.”

If Your Safe Ride Home stopped operating, it would be unfortunate and inconvenient for a lot of students, said Desiree Stevens, a junior sociology major.

“I think it’s a great service for students in general who want to get home safely,” Stevens said. “It would suck if it went away.”

With the incoming summer, there will be less parties and less students, meaning that Your Safe Ride Home won’t be getting as much business as it has during the school year.

However, Riebe will be working to make Your Safe Ride Home a fixture in Chico.

“We don’t have a home,” Riebe said. “I’ve just been operating out of my bedroom. So this summer since we are not operating, I’m hoping to get us an office.”

He wants to find a way to get money to take care of insurance, liability and lawyers, Riebe said.

“Service entrepreneurship is the idea of servicing the many for the betterment of the world or the community and that’s exactly what I’m about, ” Riebe said. “This summer is about making that a reality rather than just having a whole bunch of students get together every weekend.”

In its initial stage, Riebe went to the Associated Students for help with launching Your Safe Ride Home, but was turned down due to the liability and insurance reasons.

The A.S. let those two roadblocks get in the way of actually making sure these students were safe, Riebe said.

“I really just have to be that rogue organization that’s helping out everybody here, but I can never actually be a part of it unless we find some silver lining to make it possible,” Riebe said.

Though the school offers Campus Connections, it isn’t nearly as effective as Your Safe Ride Home. It runs 9 p.m. to midnight or sometimes 2 a.m. Monday through Friday, but it will only take students who live in university housing.

Kyle Dailey, a senior communications studies major, used Your Safe Ride Home just by walking into the house they were stationed at for the night.

“I wouldn’t have gotten home that night if it wasn’t for Your Safe Ride Home,” said Dailey. “I’ll probably use it every single weekend next semester to be honest.”

The business won’t be utilized the way it could be without help from more supporters, Dailey said.

“I think that we need more people volunteering, donating and helping because it’s obviously such a small operation right now,” Dailey said. “It also needs funding. I think the school should give the program money.”

Your Safe Ride Home is seeing darker days due to its lack of funding.

Riebe only has $200 to keep afloat after losing his job at The Wildcat Leadership Institute on campus due to withdrawing, Riebe said.

“I came here to work for the leadership institute because I felt like a leader,” Riebe said. “I want to be noticed as a leader. Your Safe Ride Home was something I was totally willing to make all those sacrifices for.”

But when dollar amounts became accounted for, Riebe realized how unrealistic it was for him to think he could do it all alone.

“I need help,” Riebe said. “That’s the biggest thing about this.”

Riebe is looking for drivers for next year. He hopes that fraternities, sororities and other organizations on campus will want to do an adopt-a-weekend where they take over Your Safe Ride Home’s responsibilities. He is also looking for business investors in the future once he gets everything up and going.

“The entire idea is protecting the people within this community,” he said.

Prin Mayowa can be reached at [email protected] or @PrinSupreme on Twitter.

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