One Driving Goal

Photo of Denise Saxman“I’m tired of taking the bus,” says “Samantha,” who has been living at Coburn Place with her child since last summer.

Samantha has tried to get her driver’s license since she was 18 – for more than 10 years. Her barrier? The written test. Her well-being advocate Rebecca Rhodes reached out for help, and Samantha was matched with a volunteer to study with – Denise Saxman.

Denise is a recently retired licensed clinical social worker, Coburn Place neighbor and new volunteer. She had helped with donations at the end of the year, but this was completely new for her. “I’d done education in a group setting, but I’d never done one-on-one teaching,” she says. “But a lot of social work is teaching, so I decided to try it.”

Denise asked Samantha how she wanted to approach studying. “She thought the practice tests would be the best way for her to learn, so we just started doing those,” she says. “We focused on the questions she wasn’t getting right. Every week, she was getting better and better and also gaining confidence.”

They learned together. “One night, I missed four!” says Denise. “Some of the questions are a little tricky. It’s about understanding how they’re going to ask them and what they’re looking for.”

They made a great team. Samantha passed on her first try after five weekly sessions.

“I think the reason I passed this time was I had hands-on learning,” says Samantha. “She kept it fun. She kept me going.” The first time Samantha took the practice test, she missed eight. The week before the test, she only missed two.

She was anxious when she walked into the BMV. “I sat down, and the person next to me said, ‘This is really hard,’” says Samantha. It didn’t help her nerves.

But she answered what ended up being the last question, and it said, “Congratulations, you have passed!”

“I was like, ‘Is this for me?’” Samantha says. “I started crying a little bit.” She found her advocate when she got back to Coburn Place. “I told her, and she was ecstatic!” she says.

“Samantha and I have been working together for almost a year now, and she continually puts in the work to achieve her goals,” says Rebecca. “Overcoming this will continue to knock down other barriers for her and get her to where she wants to be. We are all so thrilled and proud of her!”

Samantha called Denise right away. “Being able to experience her joy in that was wonderful,” she says. “To hear in her voice how excited she was and how happy. She was so proud of herself, and I am so proud of her. She doesn’t give herself enough credit.”

Denise says she is still trying to figure out what life in retirement looks like. She volunteers for the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter – where she worked for 11 years – along with Newfields and Coburn Place. “I’m committed to volunteering,” she says. “I know most nonprofits can’t meet their missions if they don’t have volunteers.”

She also finds satisfaction in volunteering. “There’s some pride in that I helped this woman achieve this goal,” Denise says. “It’s a huge confidence booster to be a small part of this piece of her life that she gets back. It’s a personal accomplishment for me, but it’s huge for her to make that big stride.”

Denise is looking forward to having a little celebration with Samantha and adds “If you have another challenge for me, I’m happy to take that on. I’m willing to try.”

Samantha is saving up for a car and insurance: “I can go wherever I want to go now.”

If you’re interested in volunteering at Coburn Place, click here.