BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) – A local garbage truck operator is being recognized with a national award.
“It means I’m one of the best” said Baton Rouge’s Dedra McKinley. “You know hard work paid off”.
Her years of hard work are why Operations Manager Carlos Guerrero nominated McKinley, saying she sets the gold standard.
“The industry is a very thankless industry, but once you’re in the industry it’s a very rewarding industry because you do take care of your community” Guerrero said.
Nine years after joining Republic Services in the Capital City, McKinley has just been recognized as the NWRA’s 2021 National Commercial Driver of the Year; the industry’s highest honor.
“She goes above and beyond for her customers” Guerrero said. “She goes above and beyond for her coworkers. She’s a true mentor to her trainees and just willing to do anything and everything” he said.
“It’s important because if you don’t service picking up the waste, the city will be nasty, stink, be uncomfortable to live in” McKinley said. “It’s just something that you have to do”.
Over much of the last decade, McKinley has put in thousands of hours hitting the pavement around Baton Rouge keeping the streets clean, but she says that’s not the toughest part of her job.
“Not being able to provide for my customers” McKinley explained. “If I’m having a truck issue or something and I can’t complete my route, that’s the hardest thing for me because I like to service my customers and do my job” she said.
But she says the best part of her job is connecting with the community.
“The kids” she explained. “They love us and we love them. We drop off color books to them. All kinds of stuff… sometimes around holidays we might drop off a little gift or something, but they love us you know”.
Now recognized at the national level, McKinley hopes her success can be a model for other women in the traditionally male dominated industry.