With the Christmas Holidays and the New Year’s celebrations scarcely a week away, many folks will be looking forward to gathering with family and friends. Yet plenty struggle tremendously this time of year.
The trucking lifestyle certainly can worsen feelings of isolation and, for some, even a desire to withdraw and separate from support structures. The long absences — days, weeks, sometimes months — from the people who love you and care your well-being over time erode relationships. Feelings of guilt may set in when you call home and they need your presence – and once again you’re unable to fulfil the need. Often enough, all a driver can hope for is too be able to quietly sit and share their feelings, and not be judged.
Ultimately, know you’re not alone. It’s not hard to find someone who will help, confidentially, on the highway working or parked at the truck stops. Following is some information about two of the more visible organizations making such help available. Also know that in some locations local churches will come and pick up drivers for services or more.
Truckstop Ministries, Inc.
Founded by Rev. Joe Hunter in 1981, Truckstop Ministries has perhaps the most visible on-highway presence among the truck-stop chapels, now with 74 active locations in 29 states and supported by 350-400 volunteers. The organization is led today by President and Chaplain David Owen. If you attend the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas in August, you may have visited their booth or attended their Sunday service in the truck parking area, and at Christmas they will have gifts and snacks for drivers at many locations.
The org’s 24-hour prayer line receives around 10-12 calls per day and is available 24/7 for support: call 800-248-8662.
Transport for Christ the oldest organization providing access to a network of faith-based support – it was launched in Canada by Rev. Jim Keys in 1951. In 2019 the name was changed to TFC Global to provide the recognition of ministries now in seven countries, including the United States and Canada but also Russia, Zamia, Brazil, Tanzania and, recently, Paraguay.
I spent many a day and evening at the Rochelle, Illinois, Petro truck stop — just one of the TFC sites. When you pull in, the small chapel trailer greets you, and many afternoons and evenings you can find Chaplain Jay LeRette inside leading a short worship service or sitting privately with an individual or couple struggling with issues here at work or back at home. You find might Jay otherwise sharing a meal with truckers or, if you’re lucky, riding his horse though the parking lot. What a wonderful icebreaker! That animal has opened up many a conversation, and makes people comfortable.
Chaplain Jay’s wife Karen offers an opportunity for women to gather in the restaurant on Wednesday mornings at 9 a.m. This may be the first such ministry designed for women in trucking.
With 29 years of service to others, Jay and Karen are just two examples of the fine, caring people who feel called to serve other people in need, and share the love and grace of God so desperately missing in some people’s lives.
In 2010, TFC Global launched a program named Exit 58 to fight human trafficking for labor and sex slavery, and to help with pornography addictions. Addictions of all stripes can be contributing factors when it comes to anxiety and depression. If you are in such a situation, know that safe places and ways exist to begin taking back your life.
The presence of these outreach services has had the effect in some places of reducing crime and prostitution, making for a safer, healthier environment for drivers and the surrounding communities. We all want safe parking and services. It’s important for truckers to help protect what we have — supporting these organizations could well be important for our future.
Somewhat big news here: Regularly contributing owner-operator Gary Buchs has put a long-in-development exit strategy into place as of October 2019, which you’ll find reflected in his updated bio with his latest installment here for the Overdrive Extra blog. He’s still got a couple feet in trucking, though, via private one-on-one business coaching ongoing with several owner-ops among his clientele (You can write him via truck.biz.coach [at] gmail.com). Accordingly, you’ll still benefit from his insight from time to time here in Overdrive Extra. He offered the following as a personal note to readers:
As my transition to retirement from active hauling went into effect in early October, I never questioned my decision. The opportunities before me … Well, it’s like opening a whole new chapter in my life. Along with continuing commitments to volunteer and assist other people in need, whether it’s disaster relief or just providing support for local food pantries, I’ve begun providing private owner-operator business coaching. For the near-term I’ll remain active supporting small operators in the quest to find solutions to problems and to build successful businesses.
And, of course: I’ll enjoy additional time with my family. The exit plan is fully functional! –Gary Buchs