Dollie Chrocken Is Thriving in Her New Career as a Ready Mix USA Driver
Since 2014, CEFGA’s Construction Ready program has helped hundreds of metro Atlanta residents find meaningful careers. For Dollie Chrocken, it also helped her fulfill a lifelong dream.
“I always wanted to be a truck driver,” says Dollie, a 2016 graduate of Construction Ready at Westside Works. “My dad was a truck driver and it was just something that interested me.”
Dollie works for Ready Mix USA at its distribution location in Lithonia. From there she drives front- and rear-discharge concrete mixers all over the metro area.
When Dollie left Westside Works, she had assurance of a job offer pending completion of a course at Daly’s Truck Driving School in Gainesville.
“Westside Works is the bomb,” Dollie says. “Everybody I met there, the certifications I acquired, what I learned … it all gave me the opportunity to get the CDL license. I was able to do that even though I was older, and it was something that I couldn’t have done on my own because I didn’t have the money to go to school for it.”
A native of Shreveport, Louisiana, Dollie came to Atlanta in 2000. She spent three decades as a preschool teacher – teaching had been another childhood goal of hers – and also has worked as a DJ and a music promoter. She had struggled in recent years, due to a series of financial setbacks and a period of homelessness. Then she discovered Westside Works.
“That was the first thing that came about [when she was job hunting],” Dollie recalls. “It allowed me to go from being homeless to having a job where I can take care of myself. I am so thankful for this program.”
Dollie’s first days at Ready Mix USA were a challenge.
“The first day I got here, I looked up at all this,” she says, gesturing at the fleet of trucks and piles of materials surrounding her, “and I thought, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’
“When I first came in, they pranked me,” she adds. “They gave me a truck that didn’t run. I was out there trying to crank it and wondering, ‘What am I missing? Why is this truck not starting?’ Then they were like, ‘Oh, that’s a dud.’”
“But as I started learning the job, I realized, I can do this.”
Newcomer pranks notwithstanding, Dollie has been readily accepted by her peers, despite being one of only two women at her work site.
“The challenge is getting them to treat you like you’re one of them,” she says of her male colleagues. “They might say, ‘Oh let me get that for you,’ and my attitude is like, ‘Thank you. But I’m capable of doing it.’ But that doesn’t even happen anymore. Now they’re like, ‘Oh, she’s got that. Don’t worry about it.’ The guys who work here are real sweet.
“I love this place. It’s a very good company. Everybody here is like family; they help each other out. There was one employee who had a death in his family and everybody came together [to support him]. That let me know that this company has our backs.”
While Dollie is happy and content in her new job, she still has one unfulfilled career goal. She explains:
“I had three goals as a kid: Underwater welding, truck driving and school teaching. I did teaching and now I’m a driver; I haven’t gotten to the underwater welding part yet.
“I might still try it if I don’t get too old,” she says with a laugh. “I’ve always wanted to learn how bridges are built.”
Don’t put it past her – Dollie’s determination and resiliency seem to have a way of translating into dreams come true.