Truckers helping truckers: UTDA changing the world one trucker at a time
When truck driver Robert Griffith spoke to a reporter from the Associated Press he thought he was just sharing information about the reality of an independent truckers life on the road. “I’d heard that this woman was out there trying to help out truck drivers. I thought I had a compelling story.” Griffith said to ATW (atruckerswife.com) media relations representative Marianne
In the Associated Press article, Griffith spoke about contending with rising fuel prices and learning how to live with less income. Griffith also shared his concerns about being able to afford what some of us take for granted- like satellite radio and even a prom dress for his daughter. Griffith thought that by sharing his story he could make a difference in the image of truck drivers in the media. “I want to change the image - show people that truck drivers are needed.” He never imagined that by sharing his story he would become part of an even bigger one.
Truck drivers all over read about and sympathized with Griffith’s plight. Griffith was of particular interest to Matt Price, CEO, President, and founder of the United Truck Drivers Association (UTDA). “The article was forwarded to me…and I was moved. This fits our purpose, which is to help truckers in need - and he was obviously in need.” UTDA raised funds of $200 that were sent to Griffith to purchase a prom dress for his daughter.
UTDA is a relatively new organization. “The idea started in 2007 but officially launched 2 months ago. It took a while to grow. Originally we had one thousand different things we wanted to do - but what was important were the three parts of our mission statement:
To help secure and provide funds to truck drivers and their families in need, through fund raisers, donations and networking with Organizations’, Foundations, Charities and Government agencies in their area.
To work closely with other Associations, Organizations’ and Companies in the trucking industry on all issues concerning professional truck drivers.
Work to educate Communities about harsh realities of the trucking industry, the hardships that truck drivers and their families must face every day, and why we all should respect truck drivers both on and off the road.
Mainly we want to pick up where other organizations leave off. Helping truckers in need and educating the public are big goals for the organization” said Price of his brainchild.
Price shared the article with his staff supervisor, Gary Rose, and without hesitation Rose decided he wanted to do something to help Griffith. Rose, like Price and Griffith, is a fellow independent truck driver and family man. “I am struggling as it is. I don’t have a lot, but at least I can do something…If I was struggling, I would love to have someone help my family out. It is the little things - we may not be able to change gas prices or the mortgage crisis, but at least we can do something.” commented Rose on his decision to personally donate the funds needed to help Griffith’s daughter purchase her prom dress.
Rose‘s decision to donate the money was not only based on his desire to change someone‘s life, but to make changes in the public‘s view of truck drivers as a whole. “We have to change our image and this is how we do it. This is 100% what I can do for the industry to change our image…I want to break these (negative) stereotypes.” Said Rose of his personal response to his donation “It feels great. My wife asked me what I was smiling about - and it just feels great!”
Price and Rose put in quite a bit of footwork to locate Griffith. “Matt and I tried desperately to find this guy. Matt finally got the number and called him and said ‘this is what we want to do’ and he (Griffith) couldn’t believe that someone read this article and wanted to do something” said Rose. “The reporter was on vacation when I called but I left voice mails and was finally put in touch with Robert. When I called he broke down crying - it was a real heartfelt moment.” Price said.
When Griffith received a phone call from the reporter who wrote the Associated Press article, he was shocked. Said Griffith of the whole experience “It is hard to swallow your pride, but when it involves your kids you will do anything and everything in your power. I was tear struck - I couldn’t hardly talk. I got so much pride - and this touched me!” Griffith said that his daughter was also overwhelmed and overjoyed - and has already picked out her dress.
Price commented on the goals of UTDA “We don’t want to take what other organizations, like OOIDA, do for truckers. Money can be well spent giving it to individual truckers rather than being a causal (organization).” The organization is dedicated to making a difference in the trucking industry one trucker at a time.
The general opinion among O/O truckers lately is that the industry is in a tail-spin.
“I have been driving 20 years, off and on. I have seen it good - I have seen it bad. Now is the worst I have ever seen it” says Griffith of the current trend in trucking. “I am doing everything possible to stay in the business. I am not going to let this push me out…I haven‘t stopped because I have a family and truck payments. I am not going to give up…I am going to fight tooth and nail.“ UTDA is targeted at individuals like Griffith - the individual independent truck driver - and making sure they remain a part of the nation’s future.
Price looks towards the future with an optimistic eye and the same fighter’s attitude Griffith has. “My goal is to have 90% of truckers as members - so we can have a voice. We want to be able to represent all truckers everywhere. That’s why we offer full membership for free…the more of us there are, the more of a voice we have to get things done. We are looking for sponsors. We have loyal supporters, but we need sponsors. We have no funds right now. “ UTDA relies on sponsorship from members to continue making a difference in the lives of truck drivers.
Griffith is now a loyal and enthusiastic UTDA member and is passionate about spreading the good word on truckers. His philosophy seems to echo that of Price, Rose and UTDA - says Griffith with pride in his voice “It’s like a chain. We need to stand together and band together.”
By Marianne Wimer, Reporter
ATW Media & Press Bureau
© 2008 atruckerswife.com