Helping drivers take full advantage of the many FREE healthcare and wellness benefits available to them through the New York Black Car Fund (BCF) can be a challenge, due to the long hours drivers work – so the BCF has teamed up with the Independent Drivers Guild (IDG) to bring “mobile” services to convenient locations, and held a series of events this spring to help spread the word.
In April, representatives from the BCF, IDG, Drivers Benefits and the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) visited Vital Transportation in Long Island City to offer advice and services, and answer questions about the many resources drivers can tap into with no out-of-pocket costs. Dozens of drivers attended the “Driver Health and Wellness” events, which included free eye exams and free eyeglasses through the BCF’s Mobile Eye Care Center, with vision services provided by General Vision Services (GVS).
According to Lionel Morales, the BCF’s new Communications and External Affairs Specialist, “The events focused on speaking with drivers to find out what they believe and understand wellness to be and provide an opportunity for them to share their thoughts and advice with other drivers.”
In addition to the Vision Van, nurses from Memorial Sloan Kettering were on-hand, offering onsite blood pressure and cholesterol exams – and information was distributed about workers compensation and free driver health and wellness benefits. Counselors and IDG staff fielded questions about benefits and drivers discussed concerns and experiences they’ve had with the TLC and/or the app companies they perform work for.
Drivers also learned how to get paid for attending Defensive Driving and Safety, Wellness and Education (STEP) courses.
“We look forward to organizing more of these events at various locations, especially as the weather improves,” explained Morales.
If you are a driver who wasn’t able to attend the April events, the BCF Vision Van is stationed daily at the JFK Airport Cell Parking Lot West. Drivers can sign up for individual and weekly group counseling sessions or upcoming group discussion circles, with professional counselors, at https://drivingguild.org/wellness or by calling the IDG Benefits hotline at 718-841-7330. Counseling is currently available in English and Spanish, and starting this Spring, they will have staff on-hand to offer services in Bengali, Urdu and Mandarin as well.
If you or someone you know needs immediate assistance, please call the NYC Well 24/7 hotline: 888-692-9355.
Keep an eye out for more upcoming events, including a press conference focusing on the launch of an innovative new Mental Health and Wellness Program. The BCF and IDG will also soon be offering financial advice to drivers, with tips on how to earn more money and optimize profits. Classes will include “How to Be a Better Driver,” “English as a Second Language” and “How to Manage a Small Business.”
The new programs were created in response to the epidemic of driver suicides and the desperation being felt across the city. The goal is to destigmatize mental health care – particularly for men and communities of color – and take a holistic approach to wellness by providing a suite of free counseling services and classes to address and prevent crisis situations.