Usually, when one applies for a job, one doesn’t expect to get more than an entry-level position. This was not the case for Breck Gamel, an MU graduate student in elementary education who applied for a job in the CHEERS Project and ended up as its statewide coordinator.
Although she has worked for CHEERS since August, she is still surprised by her important position in the 16-year-old program. Based at MU in the Wellness Center in Brady Commons, its goal is to encourage designated drivers by rewarding them with sodas and CHEERS merchandise at bars and restaurants.
Gamel receives orders from local bars and restaurants for merchandise. She also receives help from researchers to see the program’s effects.
Motivated to apply for the job because she was a designated driver when she was in college, Gamel said she thinks the program can get bigger. She hopes it will become more visible, expand with new chapters and introduce more bars.
Although she meets once each month with the other CHEERS members, Gamel will lead the program’s first statewide conference in April.
Gamel said restaurant and bar owners play important roles in the development of the program. After learning about it, she said, they are usually quick to participate.
“They prefer to have more designated drivers, even though this means a loss of a certain amount of money for them,” she said.