by Liz Jansen
Dora DiFrancescomarino, affectionately known as Dora D, sets the bar for volunteering in her motorcycle community in the stratosphere, with tangible results to go along with her effort. She’s a member of the Motor Maids, a Director of the Ontario Road Riders Association (ORRA), a member of the Women Riders Council of the Motorcyclists Confederation of Canada and the Chair of SOAR, the Society of Ottawa Area Riders. By day, Dora is the General Manager of 20 VIC Management, a commercial real estate organization.
Why spend so much time volunteering with advocacy organizations when you could be out riding?
It’s important as a rider that there’s awareness on the road that we’re out there. Friends have had close calls and she wants to do something about this. She became involved with the Society of Ottawa Area Riders (SOAR) to be more active in the community and raise awareness.
May is Motorcycle Safety month and it’s important to remind the public that we’re out there, especially after a long winter where they haven’t been sharing the road with motorcyclists.
Major partner is the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Ontario Road Riders Association (ORRA). SOAR is a group of motorcycle clubs, who wanted to do something for motorcycle safety but had no money.
Dora started knocking on doors at the City of Ottawa, then the Ministry of Transportation where she found they had no programs, but the MoT did have a Road Safety partnership grant program. They encouraged her to submit the application, which she did. ORRA gave her seed money and that was the start.
Here she’s pictured with Laureen Harper, wife of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and a rider.
The goal for the 1st year was to have the Mayor of Ottawa proclaim May as Motorcycle Safety Month and have visual reminders.
The second year it blossomed into something really spectacular:
- The City of Ottawa came back and asked to partner with SOAR, even erecting five billboards that will be placed again this year.
- The federal Ministry of Transport approved their grant again.
- The Ottawa Safety Council also came on board to help promote their campaigns.
- There are 40 City of Ottawa bus-back messages.
- The Senators’ hockey arena put SOAR’s message out at half-time.
- The local HOG Chapter pitched in with support.
- Affinity Productions produced three videos which are available on You Tube. What Makes us Different, Ottawa SOAR, and Motorcycle Awareness Ottawa 2013.
What started as $800 in seed money blossomed to $68,000 in cash and in-kind contributions in SOAR’s second year.
Secret to getting results
Dora explains how she gets tangible buy-in from the Federal Minister of Transport, the City of Ottawa and Canadian Tire – who put signs in each store across Canada!
What’s happening in 2014
The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) is a new partner and will help with promotions, local cinemas will be playing ads before movies, and others are pitching in to promote You Tube PSA’s.
What’s started as a local initiative has evolved into a national campaign in just three years.
The 2013 launch at Ottawa City Hall was attended by representatives from the Motorcyclists Confederation of Canada (MCC), ORRA, Ministry of Transport, and the Mayor of Ottawa.
This year’s launch will be at Rideau Carleton Raceway where they have a car classic and motorcycle show on Wednesday evenings, and an even larger audience.
How to get involved in your local community
- Contact the Minister of Transportation (before fiscal year end of March 31) for an application for the Road Safety Partnership Grant Program.
- Offer assistance as well.