Jo-ann is still completing her driver training but wants to start her own truck driving school.

Five Good Things: TEL donates to prison ministry, PepsiCo supports Chicago youth

Feb. 23, 2024
Women In Trucking helps an aspiring driver in Namibia, Bridgestone and Firestone recommit to FFA support, TEL donates to local prison ministry, PepsiCo continues program to support Chicago youth, and TCA names a new Highway Angel.

The trucking industry this week is all about supporting people and organizations. Read more about this support in this week’s Five Good Things.

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Women In Trucking helps Namibian woman through scholarship

Jo-ann Van Wyk lives in Namibia in a village called Witvlei, a town where trucks stop before crossing the border into Gobabis. She dreamed of driving one of the trucks and earning a living to support her son. “I was looking for a job I will enjoy, and trucking was always on my mind,” she said.  

After learning about the Women In Trucking Association, she received a scholarship from the Women In Trucking Foundation to attend truck driving school. She is the only woman in the class, and though her trainer is supportive, most of the men in the class resent her and tell her to stay home.

Jo-ann is planning to start her own truck driving school. Since there are no standards for training, she would like to create a curriculum and introduce certified training as a standard. She also plans to develop a CDL manual, which is unavailable in Namibia. 

Her goal is to empower women and help them become independent so they aren’t subject to culturally acceptable treatment by men. Jo-Ann’s goal “will ensure that I get as many women (as possible) out of poverty (and) gender-based violence, especially those who want to go into trucking and don’t know where to start."

With the help of the Women In Trucking Association, Jo-ann is now self-sufficient and free from gender-based violence. She is thrilled to share that she now has “a bank account and a salary.” She added, “I can bring food to the table.”

Firestone Ag offers students a wide range of social and experiential activities

Bridgestone Americas and Firestone Ag recently celebrated 80 years of its relationship with the National FFA Organization. To honor this milestone, the company announced new FFA sponsorship commitments and a social campaign to champion student accomplishments and perspectives. This includes support for the organization’s equity, diversity, and inclusion programs, backing for its New Century Farmer Conference to advance students’ leadership, personal, and career skills.

“Building on our long, rich history of partnership with FFA, Firestone Ag is also always looking to the future,” said Tony Orlando, president of Bridgestone Integrated Agricultural Tire Business, U.S. & Canada, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, India, Africa. “This includes engaging young agricultural leaders with meaningful career advancement and empowerment opportunities.”

By funding FFA’s New Century Farmer Conference, the farm tire manufacturer will further advance its commitment to engaging the next generation of farmers by connecting students with agriculture, communications, and business industry leaders. The five-day conference will take place in July to give students a jump-start on their future careers.

“Our 80-year relationship with Firestone Ag demonstrates the longevity and passion that exist in the National FFA Foundation’s corporate partnerships,” Molly Ball, president of the National FFA Foundation and chief marketing officer of the National FFA Organization, said. “Agricultural education is at the forefront of our partnership, and FFA has gotten where we are because of steadfast partners like Firestone.”

See also: Bridgestone achieves milestone annual total of tire pressure readings with tire monitoring solution in 2023

TEL donates $6,000 to Prison Prevention Ministries

Transport Enterprise Leasing recently donated $6,000 in support of Prison Prevention Ministries programs that are helping turn around the lives of inmates and youth, said Jeff Berger, chief information officer of TEL. The company gave an initial $3,000 contribution, followed by another $3,000 gift.

Many inmates in American prisons and jails become repeat offenders. In Tennessee, an estimated 29.6% of individuals released from a state prison in 2019 were re-arrested, re-convicted, or returned to prison within three years, according to the Tennessee Department of Correction. Based on department reports, recidivism rates appear to be even higher for jail inmates.

“We’ve seen the positive impact that Prison Prevention Ministries is having on prisoners and their families, as well as at-risk youth and our community,” Berger said.

Programs for prisoners include weekly Bible-based life skill seminars at local jails. Programs for at-risk youth include InZone, located in Hixson, which provides boys ages 10-14 with Christian guidance, academic tutoring, and fellowship through dinners and other activities. Prison Prevention Ministries also holds an annual Christmas Angel party for children with incarcerated parents.

“If it weren’t for folks like Transport Enterprise Leasing, we would not be able to do the ministries we do,” said Joe Smith, executive director of the charity. “We are so appreciative for the support of the good folks at Transport Enterprise Leasing.”

PepsiCo’s $5M community program impacts Chicago youth 

PepsiCo is entering the third year of its $5 million Pathways to Readiness and Empowerment Program, which aims to advance career opportunities for at least 3,000 youth from Chicago’s South and West sides. Since launching PREP in 2021, PepsiCo has invested in grassroots organizations that provide career resources to more than 2,200 youth and young adults through career exposure, paid internships, credentialing, and full-time employment. 

The company recommits to helping support the potential of youth on the South and West Sides, awarding $250,000 to Imagine Englewood, Girls in the Game, Chicago Cares, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago, Field Museum, Ladies of Virtue, and Southwest Organizing Project.

Ladies of Virtue empowers girls in Chicago’s underserved areas through effective mentoring and leadership programs—reaching 500 girls in 2023 alone with high school seniors involved achieving a 100% college acceptance rate. PepsiCo’s engagement with LOV is multidimensional, including funding to LOV distributed as stipends to high school students in STEM-focused internships at the Field Museum and a co-designed career exploration experience with PepsiCo that included a pitch contest in which students proposed new product ideas to a panel of leaders at the company’s downtown headquarters.

“Working day in and day out with our community partners, I see firsthand the positive impact these groups have in people’s lives,” said Brittany N. Wilson, PepsiCo Chicago community relations manager. “These organizations are rooted exactly where their work happens, which means they intrinsically understand local needs and are best suited to unlock tremendous potential in Chicago’s vibrant South and West Side communities. That’s why PepsiCo remains unwavering in our commitment to support these hyperlocal community networks that empower and uplift young people every day.”

Trucker named TCA Highway Angel for helping injured woman

The Truckload Carriers Association has named truck driver Mike Dobis from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, a TCA Highway Angel for stopping to help an injured woman on the shoulder of a highway. Dobis drives for ABF Freight out of Fort Smith, Arkansas. 

On Feb. 14, around 12:50 p.m., Dobis was traveling westbound on I-40 just before exit 25 near Memphis, Tennessee. He noticed an accident ahead and began to move forward slowly.  

“I realized somebody was laying in the road,” he said. “These people just drove through, and I’m like, please tell me they didn’t hit her.” 

Dobis slowed down to stop and got the traffic behind him to stop, and then he checked on the injured woman lying on the road.  

“She was breathing but in pretty bad shape—blood everywhere,” the former Marine said.  

Dobis, who has been driving a truck since 1981, called 911 and talked to both the police and the woman while getting a jacket out of her car. He placed it over the woman to help warm her, keeping her on the ground and immobile because she complained of back pain. He said four cars and a semi-truck were involved in the accident, and all the cars appeared immobilized. Dobis stayed with the injured woman until police arrived and dismissed him. 

“All I could do was hold her hand and try to comfort her,” he said.

About the Author

Jenna Hume | Digital Editor

Digital Editor Jenna Hume previously worked as a writer in the gaming industry. She has a bachelor of fine arts degree in creative writing from Truman State University and a master of fine arts degree in writing from Lindenwood University. She is currently based in Missouri. 

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