In Minnesota this week, a successful campaign to appreciate families of professional truckers is wrapping up. The idea was to give a big thanks to those who give so much to the men and women who drive our nation’s truckers – and that idea came from a woman who is as involved in trucking as she can get – Joyce Brenny.
Brenny is the owner of Brenny Transportation Specialized, a member and director of the Minnesota Trucking Association, an OOIDA member, and member of a dozen other organizations including the St. Christopher Fund and Women in Trucking.
Brenny told Land Line Now how the concept of Trucking Families Appreciation Week was born back in 2013.
“I was just sitting around thinking what matters in trucking are the people that support the truck drivers out on the road and just my own experience seeing that the support of families really matters if a truck driver is going to succeed or not. And thanking the families that make the sacrifice every day to support their trucker. So we thought here at Brenny we would establish a Families Appreciation Week.”
There’s always a story behind projects like this one. Brenny says it was the sad death of a driver and the way her company handled it.
“It was our first passing that we had at our company, and we just thought about how we had to get the information out to the family and just what we had to do to support the family through that situation,” she told Land Line Now.
Brenny said she and her husband, Todd, chose not to have doctors or outside individuals talk to the family, but chose to be the folks that actually did call the family and give them the news.
“We were with them through the entire process from planning the wake and funeral to being there with our driver’s truck at the wake and funeral,” she said. “Together we are a trucking family, and we know how the trucking companies can step it up a bit and be part of their trucking family’s family. They should. We started thinking about what it was like to go through that and how appreciative we were of this family coming together and knowing how it felt for them to have their loved one far away from home when he passed. Just the whole process brought so much awareness to what they are involved in and what they can’t be involved in, what they have to trust others for.”
As trucking companies, Brenny says it is necessary to make sure drivers know if anything happens, the company is “on their loved ones’ side.”
“We’re here to watch over them and help them. And if their individual truck driver runs into situations, problems or, god forbid, a passing, we as trucking companies – we’re there along the way with them.”
Brenny says it’s now evolved beyond her company to other companies in Minnesota and to members of the Minnesota Trucking Association.
“We always have Trucking Families Appreciation Week the week after Valentine’s and have just kind of kept that date for the past four years. It’s a fairly new idea, but we’d like to take it beyond and spread the word and get more awareness out about Trucking Families Appreciation Week.”
How do you recognize those families and thank them?
“At my company we’ve done many, many things,” says Brenny. “We always like to give a little token of our appreciation. For the younger children we’ve done trucking coloring books. This year we’re doing sunglass holders and different stuffed animals for the kids. And then we’ve also had potlucks and invited the families. We’ve had Root Beer Float Day and Trucking Movie and Popcorn Day for the families, if they can come in. We’ve taken out an ad in different publications to try to spread the word. Trucking families are underappreciated, and we need to let them know how much we do understand their sacrifice.”
Brenny is adamant about the campaign.
“Trucking families help support the men and women behind the wheel. They’re the folks who help support the trucking industry. They’re the unsung heroes. They’re not the face out front. Drivers don’t get enough attention and recognition either, but we really do need to understand and thank the families for what they do. It’s a hard life being a trucking family and having your significant other gone for the length of time they’re gone.”
Brenny says if she could run Trucking Families Appreciation Week, it would be huge and have a lot of help from others, in bad times and good. “As a company, we need to be a part of the family and we need to appreciate them.”
Editor’s note: Land Line Now Host Mark Reddig contributed to this story.
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