During these trying and unprecedented times, professionals across industries are stepping up—whether it’s grocery store employees ensuring store shelves are stocked, medical and healthcare professionals treating those affected, or truck drivers transporting freight of all kinds. As a small token of our continued appreciation for truck drivers, SmartDrive is recognizing the valiant efforts and sacrifices made through our “Everyday Heroes in Transportation” program.
Here are a few of their stories.
Fulfilling a promise to himself, Tommy Barr, of Oakley Transport, regularly creates care packages and distributes them to the homeless – even through the pandemic. As a co-worker stated, “Tommy makes the world a better place and gives me hope that we can all get through the recent pandemic with more compassion and kindness.”
Since starting in transportation in the Army in 1993, Tommy has always driven a truck. As someone who loves being on the road, he is usually on the road for 10-12 months and then heads home for a week and a half. With the pandemic, he won’t go home until he gets tested. Since he’s on the road so much, he is certainly aware of changes occurring around him. “I’ve noticed that other drivers are friendlier. Everybody is trying to help everybody else. The drivers have taken the attitude that we are all in this together.”
Tommy was homeless at the age of 12. As a result, he understands what it means to get help and he is happily willing to offer it. Once a month, wherever he is, Tommy purchases supplies from a local store, rents a car and distributes food and other items to the homeless people in that community. “You would never have been able to tell a young me that I’d be able to give anything to anyone.”
As most people know who are reading this blog post, being a truck driver is a sacrifice. “We’re always gone, away from home, missing out on everything to do with home.” But, for Tommy, “I’m right where I want to be.”
Michelle Sanchez, with ShipEX, understands the importance of what she hauls – whether it’s groceries or medical supplies. As a result, she has pushed off her own home time so she can keep delivering products for the American people during this difficult time. As a small female in a male-dominated industry, Michelle has the grit and fortitude to ensure her kidney care products are delivered for “her” kidney patients. She has been driving for 18 years (the last year with ShipEx) and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. Particularly now.
Michelle takes extreme precaution to ensure she’s safe. She wears a mask and gloves wherever she goes and immediately takes a shower and puts her clothes in the wash when she gets home. She also encourages other people to wear a mask and take similar precautions. Michelle appreciates the recognition that she, and her fellow, truckers are receiving now. This has resulted in more respect on the road and appreciation for what she does. She’s concerned that drivers are quitting due to the lack of eating facilities, showers, rest stops, etc. But, through it all, Michelle soldiers on. “Without drivers, America stops. Everyone needs me. I know I’m making a difference.”
Charles Woodruff, of Organically Grown Company, drove a truck for 10 years and is now in logistics. He appreciates the importance of what he does as it allowed him to be the key facilitator in utilizing Organically Grown Company’s fleet to distribute food to more than six non-profit organizations and food banks to help those in need during the pandemic.
Every day is a new day for Charles. “The needs of our customers are constantly changing. Some customers have closed their doors while others have increased their needs several fold. We used to be able to plan our drivers’ routes. But now, there’s no way to forecast our customers’ needs.” This led to the company needing to add more delivery routes. “Our drivers really stepped up during this time of need. We had drivers postpone their vacations to help cover the extra workload. Seeing so many people put their needs aside to help their communities has been very encouraging to me.”
Every day brings Charles a new challenge. “We’ve also been called upon to help out in new and different ways. We have shipped flattened empty boxes to food banks to support the surge in demand for support in Oregon and Washington. We’ve delivered loads of trail-mix from California to Northwest local grocery stores. We’ve delivered eggs from Montana to local home-delivery services, as well as many other non-produce commodities. We’re stepping up to help, and do, whatever needs to be done to get products to the people who need them.”
“While I’m proud of my contributions to the company I work for and the communities in our region, my heart goes out to the people struggling right now.”
Thank you to ALL of our heroes. America relies on you to ensure we get the goods and services we need. And, for all of the other heroes out there, let us know your story. Be sure to nominate your heroes so we can award them for the work they’re doing and share their stories.