Volunteer Spotlight: Paula Schaefer

Paula Schaefer began volunteering with MADD SC around December 2015. Paula came to us wanting to assist other victims of impaired driving because of her own experience in 1999. Paula and her husband, who was in the military, were moving from the Summerville, SC to his next post in Colorado. The family was driving and had 10 days to get to Colorado. Paula was very pregnant with her third child and was driving with her daughter Sarah, separately from her husband and son. While traveling on I-26 through Columbia, SC on December 14th, 1999, Paula’s car was hit from behind by an 18-wheeler. The driver of the truck was under the influence of drugs.  Paula and Sarah were critically injured and taken to the hospital. Sarah succumbed to her injuries two days later on December 16th, 1999.

Afterwards, Paula and her husband went back to Summerville to bury Sarah. Paula’s husband received other orders due to the crash and they have remained in SC because Paula never wants to leave Sarah. A few short months later, Paula gave birth to her second baby girl who also survived the crash. Because Paula went through something no parent should ever have to face, she wants to be available for other moms and dads who lose children due to impaired driving.

Paula was very passionate when first joining MADD in 2015. She was a tremendous asset to Victim Services at our 2016 Walk Like MADD Columbia. Paula became a MADD Peer Support volunteer after completing the required training and wants to complete the volunteer Victim Advocate training soon. Paula has been consistent in her passion even while working 50+ hours a week as a Manager at Bi-Lo.

In December of 2016, Paula assisted the Lowcountry Victim Advocate, Kelly Stafford, in manning a table at Trident Technical College and speaking with people about MADD and our mission. Paula also coordinated major outreach about MADD’s victim services in the Berkeley and Dorchester County area of SC through November and December 2016. Paula shared Sarah’s story for 2016’s Sober or Slammer LEN meeting and press event in Mt. Pleasant. Paula has given her time to share Sarah’s story at the Charleston area MADD VIP and at the 2016 DUI Memorial in Moncks Corner held by the Berkeley County Prevention Board.

Most recently, Paula has been instrumental in assisting another Summerville mom who lost her daughter much in the same way Paula lost Sarah. She has been a peer support and shoulder for this mom. Paula has met with her several times and spoken with her on the phone. Paula also began assisting our Charleston Victim Impact Panel Coordinator, Treva Zoll, with necessary paperwork at the monthly session.

Paula has been an asset to MADD since the time she started with us. We appreciate her passion, dedication, and strength in helping us support victims of impaired driving. We welcome Paula to our fight against impaired driving and underage drinking. Thank you Paula for all of your help. You and Sarah have and will continue to save lives.

Written by Kelly Stafford, Victim Services Specalist