SUPPORTING TRUCKERS FINAL MILE IN A CRITICAL TIME OF NEED
The National Transportation Institute is proud to provide financial support for Truckers Final Mile with a new monthly sponsorship award and invites other industry donors to provide financial assistance to TFM. NTI also calls on motor carriers to meet the moment when professional drivers and their families are in need.
Truckers Final Mile, the charitable organization that provides support and financial assistance to reunite truckers with their families in the event of a loss of life on the road, has seen overwhelming demand this year, and that has pushed the organization into urgent need for financial support from its donor network.
Trucker Robert Palm, an owner-operator contracted to Roadrunner and whose career in trucking has spanned nearly 40 years, operates Truckers Final Mile, a 501(3)(c) nonprofit, nearly entirely from the cab of his Peterbilt.
And through the first six months of this year, Palm says the need for the assistance his organization provides “has been unprecedented,” so much so that it has squeezed the group financially.
“We’re operating without a reserve right now,” said Palm. “When the phone rings, we’re not going to turn anybody away. But donations are down and requests are up, and we need funding to continue to provide assistance to families so that they’re not burdened with the costs of getting their loved one home to be laid to rest.”
Truckers Final Mile provides support and service to truckers and their families during some of their toughest and darkest days, helping cover costs of reuniting families in the event that a driver is injured while on the job or in the event of a loss of life. TFM covers the costs of transporting the body of a deceased driver home to be laid to rest in the event of a driver’s death on the road. When necessary, Truckers Final Mile also helps cover costs of funeral services.
With awareness of the organization growing and with donations slipping this year due to economic conditions, Palm says the organization needs an influx of financial support from individual donations and corporate sponsorships to continue carrying out its mission. So far this year, Truckers Final Mile has reunited 53 drivers with their families after a loss of life — more than the entirety of 2020 and about 10% of all the reuniting events that TFM has helped with in its 9 years in operation.
The National Transportation Institute has been a perennial sponsor of Truckers Final Mile. This year, because of the inordinate need for TFM’s assistance, NTI has committed to an ongoing monthly donation to Truckers Final Mile.
“In my 14 years of working in human resources at a motor carrier, we always made a concerted effort to get a driver home after an injury, illness, or death on the road — from ensuring drivers’ personal belongings were retrieved from the truck to lining up transportation home and covering those costs,” said Leah Shaver, President and CEO of The National Transportation Institute. “So it’s still shocking and appalling to me that there are carriers who don’t cover those costs and who don’t support their drivers in those times of crisis and need. While it’s difficult to reconcile that there is such a great need for the work that Robert and Truckers Final Mile do in our industry to help remove a burden for families facing some of their most trying days, the need persists. The opportunity to provide aid is so appreciated not only by NTI and by Truckers Final Mile, but also by professional drivers watching us to see how we respond. The driver community wholly views this need as supporting each and every one of them and as supporting the work they do and the sacrifices they make to do their job. So we invite the entire industry to financially support Robert’s work and to help Truckers Final Mile meet the critical needs it has this year.”
In addition to providing donations and sponsorships to Truckers Final Mile, Shaver also urges motor carriers to ensure their policies support drivers when injuries, illness, or loss of life occur.
“Being a best-in-class motor carrier isn’t just about a pay package,” Shaver said. “It’s about a total commitment to the professional driver. Just as drivers support the company with their work and sacrifices, drivers need to be supported in their times of need as well — especially during the times of great need for them and their families. When a driver is injured or if there’s a medical problem, provide the support needed to ensure a driver’s family can be by the their side in the hospital. Cover the costs of a driver to get home if they’re injured or ill. Ensure their equipment is recovered and secure, and that their personal belongings are safe and accounted for. And if the worst-case scenario happens while a driver’s on the job, help provide arrangements for the driver’s body to be transported home for local funeral services. And make it known to your drivers that you provide that support so they know and their families know. By supporting Truckers Final Mile, you’re also showing your drivers that your fleet cares about and supports professional drivers everywhere, even those who don’t work for companies that skip caring for drivers during their greatest times of need.”