Jennifer Freeman is a helper.
After working odd jobs for most of her life from the junior police force to working in the automotive department at Walmart, Freeman’s stepfather encouraged her to take up truck driving, as it’s a job that pays well while also allowing her to travel and see the country.
A new career
Freeman graduated from Coastal Truck Driving School in Opelousas in 1999 and she will soon be celebrating over 20 years as a truck driver.
Freeman has delivered it all: oilfield equipment to roll-offs and even tankers, she’s able to do a job she loves while getting to travel.
“I enjoy traveling and getting paid to do it,” she said.
Freeman said she enjoys traveling to anywhere in the country where there are mountains, especially to Tennessee.
Helping deliver for COVID-19
A resident of New Iberia since she was 9, Freeman, now 46, has been delivering for Contract Freighters Inc., a trucking company based out of Joplin, Missouri.
CFI trucking and Freeman are currently on the frontlines of the COVID-19 fight, delivering medical equipment, food and water.
“With this coronavirus going on, we are running a lot of emergency equipment,” Freemanrsaid.
A hard day’s work
Freeman’s work of late has been difficult, especially trying to find bathrooms and showers and food.
“We’re still struggling but it’s getting a little bit better,” Freeman said. “But it’s been a fight and we have to try to stay protected and covered up.”
From hospitals to business and supply chain stores, Freeman is working 70-hour work weeks, going seven days a week to ensure everyone is getting the supplies they need to continue the fight against the virus.
“We’ve been working 24/7 pretty much,” Freeman said. “That’s the way our work week goes. We don’t know what a 40 hour (work week) is.”
Though the long hours have been tiring for her, Freeman said it makes her feel good to help others.
“At least I know that what I am doing is stuff these other guys and girls can’t and I am able to help them,” Freeman said. “And I love to help. I am a helper.”
Working on the front lines
Freeman calls being on the frontline both cool and stressful but she enjoys getting to meet new people that she wouldn’t have the opportunity to if it wasn’t for COVID-19.
Freeman recalls getting to see business owners come out and thank her for all of her hard work, which she appreciates.
Freeman said that though it can be hard at times, she is grateful to have a job and at the same time be able to help others.
Freeman also loves helping animals, and she has become an advocate against animal abuse.
Because of the pitbull rings and animal abuse she knows of in the
Teche Area, Freeman wanted to help provide a safe and loving home for dogs.
“I am very active in animal rescue here in town, and it’s what I do now besides trucking,” Freeman said. “I don’t have children, so I take the animals and I give them love.”
Freeman doesn’t truck alone, though, as she brings her road pal, Buddy, a 14-year-old rescue dog from a local shelter here in New Iberia.
She and Buddy have been together for 11 years now, and like his owner, Buddy loves to travel and see the world.
“He goes everywhere with me on the road,” Freeman said.
The fight against COVID-19 has affected Freeman personally; she lost her grandmother, Julia Freeman, to the virus.
After testing positive in her nursing home in Athens, Tennessee, Julia Freeman, 90, died two weeks later.
Getting to say goodbye
Freeman was able to see her through a window, but that was as far as she was able to go when visiting. Freemen spent two days camped out by her grandmother’s window to visit with her.
“She was a great woman,” Freeman said.
Freeman and her family are planning to have a funeral later on when they can, as it is hard right now because of the coronavirus restrictions, and only cremations allowed.
A new purpose
Though the loss was hard for Freeman, she is using her grandmother’s passing as a reason to continue to help the fight against the disease because she knows there is still more to come.
“It’s not done yet,” Freeman said.
Freeman said she wants to thank everyone from doctors to grocery store workers and other truckers working tirelessly for all of their support and all the work they do to try to make the world a better place.
“We just have to keep our heads up and stay strong and work together through this,” Freeman said.