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The SCF helps truckers get by with a little help from their friends
The old saying for truckers is true: If the wheels aren’t turning, then you’re not earning. Sometimes the wheels don’t turn because the driver is dealing with a medical problem. The St. Christopher Truckers Development & Relief Fund (SCF) was created to address that. Since 2007 it has been helping drivers who find themselves struggling financially due to medical issues. Road King spoke to SCF Executive Director Donna Kennedy, Ph.D., about the organization.
Q How has the SCF grown since it first started?
A We are now able to reach so many more people because members of the trucking industry know who we are. We went from helping three or four drivers in 2007 to more than 800 people to date.
Q What can the SCF do for drivers who apply for help with their medical expenses?
A Medical bills are so astoundingly high these days, and we are not in a position to cover tens of thousands of dollars in medical expenses. But we do try to give applicants the tools for negotiating their bills down to a manageable level.
We explain how they can set up a payment plan, get a self-pay discount, or apply for CareCredit (a credit card for medical care) if they need a procedure but can’t afford the upfront cost.
We do cover some medical bills directly, and we’ll call on the driver’s behalf to tell a hospital or doctor’s office that we are covering say $600 of a $1,000 fee and ask if they will write off the rest. Often they will.
Q What about the other, non-medical bills that keep coming in?
A We are trying to keep people in their homes. We help with their mortgage or utilities payments, car payments, insurance and other bills. In 2012 the majority of what we paid was rent and mortgage, followed by utilities.
A lot of people avoid bills they can’t pay, but we have found that if you are upfront and honest with those companies and can show that you want to take care of what you owe but are dealing with a medical issue, you can ask for a deferment or make an arrangement for reduced payments.
Q How does the SCF determine what kind of help they will offer?
A Our application form asks what kind of assistance the driver needs, and we try to go by that request. If they ask for help with rent, we’ll work on that. If they need assistance with medical bills we give them our negotiation information and ask them to start there first,then come back to us if they need further help.
We pay bills directly to the company that is owed, not to individuals who are requesting help. So once the application goes through — our medical directors verify that there is a medical issue and we then verify that the medical issue is what has caused the financial difficulty — we ask for the bills and try to meet the original request.
We know we can’t do everything, so we give every applicant the phone number of their local community action agency and other resources and suggestions. Giving them resources they can use to get through that period of struggle can be as important as paying a bill.
Q Aside from financial donations, how can drivers support the SCF?
A This is such a needed organization. There aren’t a lot of places that understand a driver’s issues, so they have been very happy to support each other through the SCF. Financial contributions are great, and of course, many drivers donate regularly — 70 percent of our donations come from drivers, mainly through TA and Petro sponsored events.
But there are other ways to get involved: Drivers can talk to key people at their company and urge them to support the SCF. Getting the word out so that more people are aware of the SCF is helpful.
Band Together for SCF, an annual fundraising campaign at TA and Petro Stopping Centers travel centers, has helped to raise more than $1 million for SCF. Thank you for your donations!
For more information or to donate to SCF visit www.truckersfund.org
To donate to the SCF by credit card: (877) 332-GIVE (4483)