Dave Guzick would have celebrated his 27th birthday Nov. 22.
His life, however, ended in 2013 in a car accident caused by another driver, reported to be distracted while driving.
Since then, his family has been on a mission to put a stop to distracted driving by supporting local charities and by speaking publicly about the perils of texting and driving.
Each year since that fateful day in March, Guzick's family has chosen a different local non-profit organization to benefit from their efforts in his memory. This year, the family chose to partner with Diakon Community Services, which manages the delivery of Meals on Wheels in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, and the Schuylkill County Office of Senior Services.
The family says that the partnership with Meals on Wheels was a perfect fit because of the potential exposure to distracted driving that volunteers face on their delivery routes. Moreover, the family’s goal was to spearhead an effort that benefited older adults in the region.
With the assistance of Tracy Miller, Meals on Wheels coordinator, the Guzicks organized a food drive to benefit program consumers.
“Thank you! It’s like Christmas!”
Lori Guzick, Dave’s aunt, says the family’s goal was to provide enough non-perishable food items for breakfast, lunch, dinner and treats for one day to each of the 366 active consumers in Schuylkill County. They surpassed that goal with at least two days of food items that equaled 5,500 pounds. The value of donations was $10,000.
The items were delivered between Thanksgiving and Christmas by 245 Meals on Wheels volunteers on 35 routes. Miller, who helped to deliver the bags, says recipients were appreciative of the donated items, evidenced by the smiles volunteers received and by such comments as “It’s like Christmas! Thank you!”
“I am thankful the Guzick family chose Meals on Wheels consumers to be beneficiaries of their effort,” says Miller. “The results have been outstanding.”
The process of helping others, as well as speaking publicly about the perils of distracted driving, has provided a means of healing for Guzick’s family. In fact, the family began by making only a few presentations a year to local schools, but that number has since increased to between 25 and 30 annual presentations including those before various industry groups.
Lori Guzick says they don't just talk about the “nuts and bolts” of distracted driving but also about how Dave's death has affected their family.
“Dave's story is horrible. The only positive out of it is the number of people who lived because he didn’t,” she says in reference to the importance of organ donations.
Locally, the Meals on Wheels program is operated under a contract with the county Office of Senior Services, with funding provided by the state Department of Aging.