Vicki Humphries

Greer resident aids teens with safe driving initiative

Kaelyn Cashman's picture
After daughter’s passing
Kaelyn Cashman

A Greer resident who lost her 16-year-old daughter in a car accident is helping local families prevent similar tragedies.

In an effort to keep more teenagers safe behind the wheel, Vicki Humphries and her husband started the Guard Your Life Challenge (GYLC). The program provides free driving safety classes held at Greer’s BMW Performance Driving School.

“You never think you’re gonna loose a child especially in an automobile accident,” Humphries, who lost her daughter six years ago, said. “When you do, the grief is beyond words. We knew that we didn’t want another family to go through what we did.”

Earlier this year, Humphries was selected to receive a $5,000 award by Birchbox, a beauty and grooming subscription business, which recently created the Future Starts Now Fund to support customers in achieving their personal projects.

“I was very grateful they recognized we were trying to make an impact in our community,” Humphries said.

“When we first started the program, we had no idea how much money it would take to run our organization,” she said. “The money from the fund will help with more community outreach. The staff from Birchbox has been very supportive in helping us beyond the $5,000. GYLC means so much to my family and me. We are incredibly blessed Birchbox selected us as one of the Future Starts Now winners, and support our mission of helping young teen drivers.”

Guard Your Life
The first Guard Your Life Challenge class started in December 2012.

“We could barely find teenagers to enroll, and it was a struggle to get our program out there,” Humphries said. “We wanted to help young drivers be more aware when behind the wheel.”

“Thankfully, Entercom Upstate decided to dedicate some radio time to talk about the program,” she said. “With their help, in addition to word of mouth, we saw more teen drivers sign up.”

After the first few classes, the Humphries received an email from a parent who had enrolled her son in the class.

“A few days after the class, we had a large rainstorm,” Humphries said. “The parent told us he was out driving with his little sister and his car started to hydroplane. Instead of panicking, he remembered what he learned at GYLC when he was on the skid pad and was able to recover from the skid.”

“We had another parent email us that her daughter was headed to school driving through an intersection when another driver ran a red light,” Humphries said. “Because she was able to correctly use the anti-locking braking system, it prevented the other driver from hitting her driver seat door head-on, and instead hit her front quarter panel.  Milliseconds of reaction time possibly saved her life.”

Six years later, the program has full classes and about 60 people on the waiting list with teen drivers coming from North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida.

“My favorite part is watching the teen drivers come in and register,” Humphries said. “Usually, they don’t want to be there and their parents are making them. Then at the end of the class, they are all smiles. They thank us for putting them in the class, tell us how much they learned, and can’t wait to tell their friends. That makes all the hard work pay off.”

Since starting the program a month after her daughter’s passing, the Humphries have seen over 900 young drivers participate in the training classes with the goal of preparing teens to handle unexpected driving hazards in the safest way possible.

“We hope that every young driver who comes through our class will retain some of what they learn, so they can avoid an accident, but you also hope that they will never have to use what they have learned,” Humphries said.

Through classroom instruction, driver awareness activities and hands-on driving exercises, teens can improve their driving skills and increase their road knowledge.

“You will never truly know how many lives that GYLC and Birchbox will affect through this program,” Humphries said.

The challenge is for teenagers between 15 and 19 years of age, and teens must already have restricted license.

Future Starts Now Fund
The Future Starts Now Fund was born out of two things—wanting to make a real impact on International Women’s Day and Birchbox’s commitment to investing in their relationships with their customers.

“As a brand, it’s important to empower our customers beyond helping them find the right beauty products, and it’s not enough to just talk about the challenges that women face,” said Brittany Tomkiewicz, Senior Manager of Brand Marketing & Partnerships at Birchbox. “This allows us to give back to our community in a meaningful way.”

Birchbox also has an Employee of the Month program that served as additional inspiration for the Future Starts Now Fund. Each month, Birchbox employees nominate a peer who demonstrates the company’s core values, and the winner gets a $1,000 monetary prize.

“When we were thinking about International Women’s Day, we kept going back to the idea of creating something that both acknowledges people and gives them the means to accomplish their goals,” Tomkiewicz said. “It struck us that Birchbox does this very thing for our employees, and we wanted to extend it to our customers as well.”

Humphries selected Humphries from a pool of over 3,500 applications. During the submission process, applicants were asked to tell their stories and the compelling reason behind what they’d do with the prize money.

“After multiple rounds, and countless hours of reviewing applications, the top 10 applicants were assessed by our CEO, who helped to make the a final decision with a small group of employees that spearheaded the program,” Tomkiewicz said. “We had so many incredible applicants that made it so difficult to choose from only a handful of winners.”

“We were so happy with how many people applied,” she said. “When we launched, we weren’t sure what would happen.”

Over 3,500 people applied within 72 hours of the launch.

“It was so amazing and heartwarming to read through all of the applications,” Tomkiewicz said. “The stories were so moving. We were so happy that we were able to help the winners, all of whom were so deserving of this award.”

The next recipient will be chosen by mid-December with a plan to select a total of four winners by the end of this year.

“Beyond the $5,000 prize, the award also comes with additional resources like access to the Birchbox team to help them continue to foster their dreams,” Tomkiewicz said.

As an example, their social media team is planning to provide Humphries with social media strategy advice and tips for the Guard Your Life Challenge Instagram.

“We will also periodically check in with our winners to keep them motivated,” Tomkiewicz said. “One of the other Future Starts Now Fund winners expressed that the hardest part about taking the next step is motivation. We send her emails from time to time to make sure she knows we’re all there to support her and are cheering her on.”

“We’re really excited about the idea of micro-investing into the dreams and goals of our community of amazing and loyal customers,” she said. “It’s natural to want to invest in people in a really big way, but dreams and goals come in all shapes and sizes. I think there are a lot of people out there whose goals entail accomplishing something on a smaller plane that need a helping hand with getting over a hurdle or motivation to keep pushing forward. One small gesture or moment can change the trajectory of someone’s life. The hope of the Future Starts Now Fund is that we eliminate that hurdle and act as the push forward to continue on their path.”

The Greer Citizen

317 Trade Street Greer, SC 29651

P.O. Box 70 Greer, SC 29652

Phone: 1-864-877-2076

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