TGB Approves $5,000 to Help Purchase Van for Sober Driver Project
By Douglas A Karaszewski
The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board (TGB) unanimously approved to match a request from Sober Driver Project founder, Charles Jared Kagigebi, $5,000 to help him buy a new van for the program.
In his original request to the TGB, Kagigebi said, “I would like to propose a money match to help purchase a new vehicle for the Sober Driver Project I created here in the community. I started a ‘Go Fund Me’ on February 11th, 2022, to get the support from community members, and so far, I’ve raised $905.00 from that.”
Additionally, Kagigebi is adding $4,095 of his own funds to meet the match with the TGB.
Sober Visionz, a sober ride program which Kagigebi began in mid-2020, with help from Lisa Wade, Carmen Sandler, Tracy Weaver, John Cadotte, and Steven Perry, envisioned from a conversation between them about the best way they could make a difference within the LCO community. This idea first arose when Kagigebi, dealing with his own addictions, was walking back to his LCO home from Exeland on Christmas Day of 2019.
Kagigebi said, “Walking home intoxicated that night in freezing temperatures I knew that if I didn’t get a ride from someone I was going to die because of this lifestyle.”
When a friend came to the rescue that night and made sure he returned home safely, Kagigebi decided to make that change. In a New Year’s Resolution, he committed to getting sober and do what he could to help others at LCO do the same. With borrowed vehicles and money, Kagigebi began his work driving community members and friends who lived on LCO home while being intoxicated. He said that making sure they made it home safely made him feel as if he was making a difference in the struggle for sobriety and saving lives while doing so. This has also helped with his own sobriety.
“Charles may have saved a couple lives already,” stated TGB member Tweed Shuman.
Aside from the afore mentioned motivational reasons for Kagigebi to dedicate his time to Sober Visionz, after returning to LCO after time spent in the prison system he sees more addictions and deaths happening to members of the LCO Tribe. Kagigebi feels that by dedicating his time and sobriety to the program, he is helping others from becoming part of the same system he was stuck in due to their addictions.
TGB member Don Carley said, “He’s kept people out of jail and gotten them home safe because of what he has been doing.”
LCO Chairman Louis Taylor supported matching Kagigebi’s request because, “It’s a great thing he’s doing for our community.”
Besides getting intoxicated LCO members home safe Jared also makes sure those who are unable to find transportation to detox centers, treatment centers, and Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) and other meetings who want to get sober or who have already started the program stay sober.
Kagigebi said his current van that he uses for the project is not trustworthy and having mechanical issues, thus the reason he made the request.
He also has a vision for the future of Sober Visionz. Kagigebi recently hit a jackpot at the LCO Sevenwinds Casino. He invested $5,000 of his winnings to help Sober Visionz move toward his vision of the future and what he wants to accomplish. This is where TGB comes in with their matched $5,000 investment along with another donation of $5,000 from a donor who would like to stay anonymous.
With this newfound funding, Kagigebi, hopes to find a reliable sober vehicle to drive members who are not capable of transporting themselves to their chosen destinations. He would also like to hire those who helped come up with the original concept started back in 2020, to help make the LCO community have more options to stay safe and beat addiction. However, his vision for the future doesn’t end there. Kagigebi has already applied to make Sober Visionz a 501c3 corporation with hopes of more sober vehicles, employees, and a Drop Center House.
Kagigebi says this Drop House, alone, will help those who long for sobriety become sober. This center will also save lives, he added.
“Many times when an addict decides the time has come to ask for help to get sober and commit to receiving treatment at a facility, there are not always beds available,” Kagigebi said. “When a person is ready to make that commitment, any deterrent that prevents them from getting that immediate help is more likely than not to continue them on the path of self-destruction and possibly even death.”
The Drop Center House will give those seeking help an option to begin their tough and trying road to beat addiction and give them a local facility to detox as well as sober activities to participate in. Kagigebi thinks that the involvement in traditional cultural activities is a key concept to get them focused and achieve the ultimate goal of sobriety.
“This option of having a place to begin sobriety when treatment centers are at capacity will stop many suicides of those who feel as though they are out of options,” Kagigebi stated.
If anyone is interested in helping fund Sober Visionz, donations are accepted, and merchandise can be purchased at www.soundsky.com. Proceeds are used to continue funding the project. Kagigebi says he has business cards everywhere within his driving range with information on how to contact him for a sober ride. You can also connect with him on Facebook by searching for Charles Jared Kagigebi or Sober Drive Project. Anyone who would like can also reach him at email address firstname.lastname@example.org.