Keeping Us Safe is a national organization that provides practical, real-life solutions to older drivers and their families throughout the United States and Canada. Their ‘Beyond Driving with Dignity’ program is designed to save lives while simultaneously helping to ease the burden of the family as they find themselves faced with the very challenging issue of an elderly parent’s diminishing driving skills.
Schuster first received her “Beyond Driving with Dignity” professional certification in August, 2011. “Nancy is most deserving of this award” says Matt Gurwell, founder of Keeping Us Safe. “She has been extremely active in the program and has become most effective in helping older drivers with diminished driving skills make a smooth transition from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat.” Gurwell adds.
As a “Beyond Driving with Dignity” professional, Schuster serves as a facilitator for Keeping Us Safe’s ‘self-assessment program’ for older drivers. This individualized program has been designed to serve as a valuable tool in helping older drivers (and their families) make appropriate decisions regarding the future of one's safe driving career. The 3-hour, one-on-one session is typically conducted in the comfort of the older driver’s home. The session includes an in-depth learning conversation, several cognitive exercises, and an actual driving exercise with the older driver which takes place in his or her own car.
The award is named after the late Bill & Betty Fresch, who died in a Maryland farm field after becoming lost on what was always a routine 40 minute drive home from a family member’s residence. The January 13, 2011, Washington Post article reporting the tragedy read “Elderly couple found frozen to death after getting lost during drive (http://www.washingtonpost.com/
Keeping Us Safe and the Fresch family have partnered to help similar tragedies from happening to other families in the future. “The Fresch family has been very gracious in sharing their very difficult story with others” says Gurwell. “As difficult as it is to talk about the incident, they have risen above that and see the sharing of their story as an opportunity to help others deal with this very delicate and emotional situation, before tragedy strikes their family” concluded Gurwell.
In a statement released by Paul Fresch (son of Bill and Betty Fresch), he states “On behalf of the Fresch family, we would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Nancy Schuster, recipient of the 2013 “Bill and Betty Fresch Outstanding Achievement Award”. Ms. Schuster clearly exemplifies an individual of great spirit and compassion; and one who has made a significant impact on the lives of others.”
Fresch continued with “We are honored that our parents' names will live on in this way through the Keeping Us Safe programs, and that their story will continue to help other families with the difficult discussions and decisions they must make. Our sincere thanks and very best wish to Ms. Schuster as she continues her work as a ‘Beyond Driving with Dignity’ professional.”
“Nancy demonstrates a strong commitment to professionalism as she helps families bring a peaceful resolve to this very difficult situation. She exhibits exemplary service to the communities she serves. Her overall work ethic and her sincere passion to help older drivers with diminished driving skills make a smooth transition from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat make her an invaluable asset to the Keeping Us Safe team.” says Gurwell.
Michelle Cole, MSW and Service Coordinator for Episcopal Retirement Homes, explains “I have made several referrals to Nancy. She provides a wonderful resource to our residents and their families. The feedback is positive from those who have completed program with Nancy, even those who have decided to retire their keys! Nancy honors our residents and helps them make this difficult decision with grace.”
Having received the award, Schuster states "I am humbled to receive this award from Keeping Us Safe. I have the utmost respect and gratitude for the Fresch family for their willingness to share their family's tragedy with those of us involved with Keeping Us Safe and to honor a Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional for our role in helping other families.”
“It has been my honor to work with the older drivers and their families that I have met in greater Cincinnati as a Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional and I am grateful for the opportunity to further the mission of Keeping Us Safe. My experiences as a BDD professional have enriched my life and I hope have been a blessing for the families I have worked with." concludes Schuster.
Schuster also serves as the Executive Director of ITNGreaterCincinnati. Originally from New Jersey, she currently resides in the Cincinnati suburb of South Lebanon, Ohio.
Visit Keeping Us Safe at http://www.keepingussafe.org for more information on our programs.