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$50K is the ‘Right’ stuff: grant helps power free car service

The Brooklyn Paper
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A Brooklyn-based non-profit organization has the right stuff.

RightRides, which offers free rides home to women as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals on Friday and Saturday evenings, has received a Union Square Award and $50,000 grant in recognition of its service to the public.

South Slope resident Oraia Reid co-founded RightRides in 2004 with Consuelo Ruybal. The Brooklynites were alarmed at the number of assaults on women walking home alone or using public transit after a late night in Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

“I’m a survivor of assault,” Reid said. “I felt that I had to do something rather than live in fear or anger. Action was the best thing.”

Reid and Ruybal established a dispatch number, 888-215-SAFE, and began offering free rides home.

“Walking home from public transportation at night can be scary,” Reid explained. “We recognize that not everyone can afford their own safe transit home, whether it’s through taxis or expensive car services.”

In its early days, RightRides had just one car and two volunteers operating in three northern Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Now, Zipcar has donated six vehicles so RightRides can operate in 45 neighborhoods throughout the city. To date, approximately 2,500 people have accepted rides, which are offered from 11:59 p.m. to 3 a.m.

In Brooklyn, RightRides services Bedford-Stuyvesant, Boerum Hill, Borough Park, Bushwick, Carroll Gardens, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Flatbush, Fort Greene, Gowanus Canal, Greenpoint, Kensington, Lefferts-Gardens, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Williamsburg and Windsor Terrace.

Neighborhoods are selected based on crime statistics and requests for service. Donations via www.rightrides.org allow for service expansions.

Each car has a team of two — one driver and one navigator. At least one team member is always a woman to ensure the comfort of passengers.

RightRides is always looking for volunteer drivers and navigators.

“RightRides is a way of making a difference in someone’s life,” Reid said. “It’s a relief to be able to have a safe way home.”

Call 888-215-SAFE for a ride. To volunteer as a driver or navigator, e-mail volunteer@rightrides.org.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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