“She is the mother hen of bus drivers,” says Tom Woodall, vice president of operations for Bennett DriveAway. “She tries to help drivers find new fuel stops, where they can safely park their vehicles. She donates her time to numerous organizations. She cares for personal friends. She takes it upon herself to look for ways to help others.”
Cathy, who has driven for Bennett for 20 years, is thrilled with being selected by Bennett DriveAway to receive the 2016 Driver of Excellence Award for the division. “It was so nice to feel recognized for some of the things that I have done, basically to try and help,” she says. Cathy also became a Million Mile Driver in 2016.
Cathy’s first job with Bennett was driving buses for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, GA. She transported buses donated by various companies from locations in North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and New York to Atlanta and then back again when the event was over. During the Olympics, Cathy transported journalists from all over the world to and from athletic events. “I got a lot of pens,” she says jokingly, adding that the experience was “unique and different.”
Since then, Cathy has developed a reputation for going out of her way to assist drivers and for being a pioneer for developing new and safe routes for drivers to help reduce their stress. “She took this task on her own, and by doing so, drivers are more free to focus on the road and being safe,” says fellow driver Gloria Holmes. “She shares her knowledge with her fellow workers, which has saved a lot of time and money for the company, as well as the workers.”
“As an example,” Gloria continues, “during one of my many deliveries, I was unsure of the route to take. I called her to confirm the direction I was taking. She stayed on the phone with me, talking me through the delivery drop-off, where I arrived safely and on-time.”
Cathy says that when planning trips, she never assumes that what she finds on the Internet or the company’s web page is accurate. “I’m the kind of person who wants all of my i’s dotted and my t’s crossed,” she says. “I always talk to someone at the location. I do extra research and make contact with every fueling station before I go. I’ll sit down at the computer, write up a route description, what roads to get off, and what kind of fuel car they need to use, so they’ve got all their bases covered.”
When Cathy is not driving for Bennett, she is donating her time to help raise funds for heart and lung associations, for which she also drives people to doctor appointments or wherever they need to go. A few years ago, Cathy’s husband suffered a heart attack, making her the sole breadwinner, but she was volunteering long before her husband’s illness. Heart disease runs in her family and she is aware that people with chronic diseases need as much support as they can get.
Cathy also volunteers to help veterans’ and children’s organizations, and is described as a “caregiver to her family and friends.”
“Her heart hurts for those that need help,” says Gloria. “She juggles and takes on everyone’s problems and never complains. She is truthfully a Bennett Unsung Hero and mine, too.”