For DriverFacts President and CEO Dave Widly and his wife Lori, doing something to help others isn’t just a single action - it’s a mindset. They got involved in giving back through missions after their son Parker attended a mission trip to Joplin, Miss. with a group from Orange Lutheran High School to help residents after the 2011 tornadoes. Following their son’s trip, Dave and Lori were inspired to chaperone mission trips in the Appalachia region of Kentucky with the high school to serve people coping with devastating poverty.
Even though their sons have graduated, Dave and Lori continue to chaperone these trips. Last year, Dave and DriverFacts arranged and helped sponsor, with discounts from Old Dominion, the shipment of supplies and over 200 pieces of luggage. Dave is in the process of securing a LTL truck for the group’s upcoming November trip to haul supplies from California to Kentucky.
“We’ll be leaving mid-November and are taking 180-200 students from grades 9-12 and 30-35 chaperones to one of the poorest counties in the U.S.,” Dave explains. “We’ll be splitting up into teams to work at over 20 different sites throughout Clay County, Ky.”
The group partners with a ministry called Big Creek Missions. While the team is there, they’ll spend time with local children, senior citizens and veterans, doing construction and other service projects like building wheelchair ramps to make homes more accessible. They will also provide non-perishable food, clothing and school supplies to local schools who can then pass those items on to children in need.
“I like building for the projects, but I also like building relationships while I’m there,” says Dave. “I really make a point to get to know the people we’re helping. By the end of the trip, residents’ trust for our group develops and everyone is typically so warm and friendly.”
For Lori, she loves being able to see the students impacted as they serve. She says the students seem to gain a new perspective on life and benefit from these missions trips just as much as the people they’re helping.
“All the riches in the world don’t measure up to the feeling when you serve and change lives.”
Since a lot of these trips have been to the same region in Kentucky, Dave and Lori have been able to cultivate relationships with people they’ve met over the years. They occasionally coordinate business travel around additional visits to the communities they have served to continue building the relationships they’ve established.
Most recently, the same program at the high school took two groups to Houston to help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Dave, Lori, their son Prescott, and DriverFacts team member Mylene Patterson traveled with the second group of 91 students and other chaperones and were in Houston September 28 - October 2. According to Dave, “People continue to clean out their houses and live with saturated dry wall, black mold, bug infestations and horrible smells. People may not realize the extent of the damage and living conditions and if/when they will recover,” he says.
“When we drove through towns, we would see streets that seemed fine, but the next block would have all of people’s belongings piled up five feet high along the curb. The students pushed themselves and worked physically harder than any other trip we’ve been on. The most demanding projects were tearing out dry wall, ceilings, floors, toilets and appliances; moving what has become trash from the home to the curb. Sometimes it was everything they own—all done in 90-degree weather with 90% humidity.”
Others from the DriverFacts team have gone with the Widlys for some of their various trips. “It’s great for our whole team to see how we can help others,” Widly says. “We do it as part of our DriverFacts service every day and it’s just as rewarding to help however we can in our personal lives too. If you are compelled to help, please contact us and we will help you make a connection. All it takes is a willing heart.”
For more information about how to get involved, contact DriverFacts at 888-844-4730 x805.