If you ask the state patrol, I am not a good driver. Over the past 15 years, I have had the “pleasure” of several traffic stops for rolling through a stop sign, driving too fast, failing to yield, and not using my turn indicator. Most recently, I was stopped for turning right on red and ticketed for this offense. Despite my less than stellar record, a volunteer asked me if I would teach her how to drive.

This volunteer (Mary) has been spending 30 hours a week at the Center helping us out for the past 2 years. I worry about Mary often wondering if she has enough food to eat and clothes to wear. Even so, Mary has never asked for anything and oftentimes refuses my offers to help her. Because I am more stubborn than Mary, I have continued to pester her about what she needs. A month ago, Mary came in and told me that she had been thinking a lot about my offers to help her. Mary told me that she did not want clothes, food, or anything else but only to learn how to drive.

My immediate predicament was whether I should be the person to teach her how to drive. Seeing how excited Mary was to learn, I conveniently forgot about my traffic history. Mary and I have now gone driving on several different occasions. Honestly, I am terrified. Yesterday we almost hit a parked van and a fire hydrant as well as to spend time driving on the grass and through a ditch. Nonetheless, I have never had so much fun.
To see how driving can make this volunteer feel good about herself again and the sense of accomplishment she gets at the end of each trip is an incredibly rewarding feeling.

We may be a food pantry but we do so much more. We help people to leave abusive relationships, seek treatment for alcoholism, obtain their GEDs, become self-sufficient, and for Mary, we are teaching her to drive. For all these people, we are really doing the same thing. We are giving them hope.