Krista Wilson and her husband Scott spent a lot of time looking for a reason to move back to her hometown Midland, and they saw Young Drivers of Canada – Midland branch going on sale as a sign.
“I grew up here and my family lives here. But I worked as a teacher for 35 years in Kitchener, and we considered moving back for a long time. When Young Drivers came up for sale post-COVID, we jumped at the opportunity,” she said.
Now, she and her husband are integral to the community and making themselves a fixture again.
“My husband does the driving and teaching behind-the-wheel, and I help with plenty of the administration now that I'm retired,” she said. “I'm sitting and meeting people I haven't seen in 30 years. It's just amazing to be a part of this community.”
When the two purchased, they had to work really hard to repair relationships as well.
“The business was dwindling in student attendance when we took over. But we are happy we built it up, and people seem to be really happy with the job we're doing,” she said.
She says this job is a dream come true for her husband, who just loves being on the road.
“He was a truck driver for 20 years, and teaching people to be safe and manoeuvre in situations where conditions aren't favourable is important to him. He just wants to make the world safer,” she said.
“For myself, I've never done anything like this. I was a Grade 2 and 3 teacher before I retired. I never thought I'd do taxes, book-keeping, and book lessons. But I love not being tied to my desk eight hours a day and it's a great part-time gig.”
She laughed when discussing how it is each day working alongside her husband.
“There are days where I'm right and he's wrong, and vice-versa. At the end of the day, we like spending time together. I keep us organized and he's a bit more relaxed. But we know we're in this together,” she said.
While the very name of the organization has the word 'Young' in it, Wilson is clear there isn't just one demographic getting their help.
“There are folks between 30-40 who never got their license, people in their 60s needing to learn to drive for the first time, and we have a seniors program to evaluate their driving skills too. Usually a family member comes to us and thinks an elderly parent can't drive, but they don't want to say it,” she said.
“It isn't just young kids who need to learn to drive or need to test again. We are here for the whole community, and in the end, we want safe roads and for everyone to know the rules. People get lax on things like signalling or not stopping at “STOP” signs. We are always here for a refresher.”
A major reason Young Drivers of Canada – Midland is so popular is because the geographical location underlines the need for independence – Having a car can be crucial in the area.
“We are rural here, and there's not much for shopping around. You need to go to Barrie or Orillia, and shop at bigger centres. We want to keep folks safe and give them mobility,” she said.
The pair are constantly trying to stay involved, and are also focused on expansion. They work with the local Legion and do the Adopt-A-Family program with the Salvation Army.
“We just purchased a Young Drivers in Parry Sound, and we are committed to staying involved in communities we serve. There is always an opportunity to use us for learning about driving,” she said.
“The community gives to us by taking lessons, and we just give back in any way we can. We firmly believe in volunteer work, and we are always here for the people. I'm so happy to be back where I grew up, and to be able to help people here.”
To learn more about Young Drivers of Canada – Midland, visit them online here.