At Southwest, our Purpose is to connect People to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel. As the airline with a heart, that commitment extends far beyond the skies and deep into the cities we serve, where our support of vibrant public spaces is having positive and lasting effects on communities. The Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community program focuses on reimagining public spaces as the true hearts of communities. By boosting community participation in the creation, design, and unique programming of public spaces, they become central gathering places where everyone feels welcome. Today, with a little help from our 2016 Heart of the Community grant recipients and Southwest Employees from across the country, we are pleased to announce our new favorite public spaces: Atlanta, Georgia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Los Angeles, California; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
What’s YOUR favorite public space? Tell us in the comments below and you may see your answer in an upcoming issue of Southwest: The Magazine! In 2014, Southwest launched the Heart of the Community program, which awards grants to create public spaces in the hearts of communities served by the airline. With the addition of the five newly announced grant recipients, the program has supported 18 innovative and transformative projects. To learn more, visit pps.org/Heart-of-the-Community. Featured photo above: Los Angeles, CA – Pershing Square (Left to right) Pauline Morris-Ewing, LAX Customer Service Supervisor, Eduardo Santana and Alex Sasayama, Pershing Square Renew, and Pearl Mapu, LAX Station Administrator
We mentioned a few days back that we had some fun Halloween treats coming. If you logged in today, you received one of those treats: the Halloween 2017 badge! Head over to your profile page to see it!
Can you believe it’s been more than a year since we launched the Southwest Community?? It’s been amazing to see the growth and interest in this Community. When we launched, our Team wanted to create an inviting, warm space just like our Southwest flight experience. We are still building and tweaking and growing the Community, but we are so proud of how far we've all come together.
In the last year, there have been a great many contributions from Community Members. But a select few have really stepped up and contributed in amazing ways. We are calling these folks the Fantastic Five. And to properly recognize them, we have crafted a Fantastic Five badge.
Without further ado, let us present your winners!
Massive Contribution Award: @TheMiddleSeat
This award recognizes massive contributions to the Community, from answering questions to welcoming people into the Discussion Forums. This person has put a ton of time into the Community, day after day.
Most Positive Award: @DancingDavidE
This award recognizes the Member who always brings positivity to the conversation. If they were on a plane, they’d be singing the boarding announcements.
Most Answers Marked as Solved: @chgoflyer
One of the most critical ways we can judge the success of the Community is by how many solved answers are added to the Community. Answers marked as solved help other travelers figure out how to get their answers quick. This Member has blown us away with the number of their answers marked as solved.
Prepared for Takeoff Award: @sarahsmith
This award is for the person who is always able and willing to offer advice on making the travel experience go more smoothly and can be counted on for the best insider tips and tricks.
Warm Embrace Award: @CareforNOLA
Whether you’re stepping onto a Southwest plane, or entering the Southwest Community, we want everyone to feel welcome. In addition to posting great questions, this Member has done a great job of making everyone feel valued and at ease when they jump into the discussion.
The Southwest Community Team would like to give a huge thanks to the Award Winners for all they do in keeping the Community a fun and helpful place. Please join us in congratulating them!
The Resilient Communities Impact Program is a whole-community effort, engaging local changemakers to take individual and collective action to ensure all neighborhoods are thriving places of opportunity.
By working collaboratively, Southwest, nonprofit organization Points of Light, and other local partners seek to strengthen cross-sector participation and connections, instill a greater sense of identity and pride, and increase the quality of life and support the livelihoods of residents. Projects are underway in three Southwest markets—Atlanta, Chicago, and Phoenix. Let’s hear from our PHX Southwest Coheart, Steve Land, Ground Operations – Provisioning Operations Manager, about his personal connection, involvement, and perspective about the Southwest Resilient Communities commitment to the Park South community.
I am thankful for our involvement in the Phoenix Park South community and am excited to be part of the project. This community is near and dear to my heart. Park South is the community that raised me and nurtured me throughout my youth. My family has been rooted there for decades and it is still home to my beloved parents, my Aunt, and other family members. The rich history of the neighborhood and dedication of its citizens makes a positive impact and helps strengthen the south Phoenix community.
When I learned that Southwest was teaming up with Points of Light and HandsOn Greater Phoenix for the Resilient Communities Initiative, I couldn’t wait to volunteer my time and put my heart in action. While Southwest Warriors have been doing great things in the Phoenix community for years, this new project in Park South is a great way for us to show off our Heart and serve alongside organizations who are all committed to strengthening our local communities. We have an opportunity to be part of something powerful that will make a strong impact and create meaningful change, not only in south Phoenix, but also in other communities throughout the country.
After attending community planning meetings and learning more about what we would collectively work to achieve, I couldn’t help but think of the many deserving residents. I know that this effort will rejuvenate their sense of ownership and pride, both of which have been lacking in the neighborhood for quite some time.
I am a product of this community and someone who visits family there almost weekly. I know the potential, the pride, and the resilience of the folks in Park South. This area was once a thriving, safe, and energetic subdivision of middle class families, high performing schools, and active youth programs. As a matter of fact, historically Park South was one of the first middle class subdivisions within the state of Arizona that was primarily African American. My parents purchased their first home here in the late 1960s and still call Park South home as do many other original homeowners and their descendants. They still hold on to hope, and they remain optimistic for what once was and what could be once more. During our first Resilient Communities project in late October, as I volunteered alongside many of my Cohearts, I was able to connect with and reunite with many residents who maintain the legacy of their family and remain dedicated to this area. Talk about making giving back personal…..this project really hits the mark for me!
I am so thankful to work for a Company that takes pride in providing quality service to our Customers, but more importantly, a Company that takes just as much pride in giving back to those very same communities. Thank you Southwest for providing an opportunity for me to put my HEART in action!
Happy Earth Day! Every year, Southwest celebrates Earth Day in a variety of ways—recycling cans inflight, participating in clean-up projects in our communities, and planting new spring trees and flowers at home. This year, in honor of Earth Day, we are proud to announce that the Southwest Heart of the Community Program is growing again! Since our launch in 2014, Southwest has helped communities create and activate new outdoor public spaces in Detroit, Providence, and San Antonio, with additional projects underway in Chicago and Houston. The movement of placemaking traces its roots back to environmentalism. Today, it focuses on building public spaces as a catalyst for sustainable, healthy, inclusive and economically viable neighborhoods strengthened by broad community participation and engagement. The Southwest Heart of the Community Program emphasizes that we reduce environmental impact by challenging individuals to reimagine public space without reliance on major capital projects and overconsumption of natural resources. With Southwest’s investment in placemaking, we are taking our commitment to People and Planet to a new level. Today we are celebrating another milestone in our Heart of the Community program as we open our next two newly reimagined public spaces in the cities of San Diego, California and Baltimore, Maryland. Recipients of Heart of the Community grants in 2014, these locations have transformed from empty, underutilized plazas to vibrant spaces that connect local residents, businesses, cultural institutions, and tourist attractions through the use of seating, shade, greenery, and new programming to activate the space. Southwest Leaders, Employees and local dignitaries were on hand to celebrate the new spaces with Earth Day events and activities. We think you’ll agree that the before and after photos are quite astonishing! In addition, we are pleased to announce our 2015 Heart of the Community grant recipients: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Ft. Myers, Florida; Jacksonville, Florida; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Portland, Maine; and St. Louis, Missouri. These six Heart of the Community spaces were selected through a competitive application and interview process from 38 interested cities. To celebrate, our Employees in those markets participated in volunteer projects around the area where the new spaces will be created. And additional environmental service projects are taking place around the Southwest system over the next few weeks! As a part of their grant, each local partner will receive technical assistance from our nonprofit partner, Project for Public Spaces, to set a clear vision and programming platform for activating the space. The grant also funds a variety of physical amenities, such as tables and chairs, outdoor reading rooms, and information kiosks – bringing new life and vibrancy to these Southwest spaces. Do you have a favorite public space? Comment below to tell us what makes it great, and how you are celebrating Earth Day in your community today!
About three years ago, we started on a journey in the Community Outreach Department at Southwest, speaking with our Employees and our Leaders about what mattered to them and where they thought Southwest Airlines could make the most difference in people’s lives and where they’d like to see Southwest lead as a corporate citizen. What rose to the top from those interviews was the idea of Community, making a difference in our neighborhoods and helping making connections. We believe that public places—such as neighborhood parks, community gardens, and downtown squares—are truly the heart of the local communities where our People call home and where our Customers love to visit. As a result, the idea of supporting and revitalizing public spaces is one that spoke to the heart of who we are. The next step was figuring out how to do that in a way that made sense to Southwest. And we found it with Project for Public Spaces, the pioneering nonprofit behind Placemaking. Behind great public places around the world is a quiet, 30-year movement called Placemaking, which breathes new life into neighborhoods by reimagining public spaces around the needs and desires of the local community and strengthening connections between people and the places they share. At Southwest, we have always put People first in the decisions we make about our business. And what attracts us to Placemaking is that it, too, puts People first – only in the process of designing and improving public spaces. On Monday, our three-year journey came to life in Travis Park in San Antonio when Gary announced a multi-year commitment to Placemaking through the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community program, where we will revitalize and activate public spaces. Through the Heart of the Community program, we will work with PPS and collaborate with local community partners in cities across the country to bring new life to their public spaces. We were in Travis Park to unveil our third pilot project where we gave a grant to provide amenities and programming in the historic Park; more than 40 Employees were on hand to volunteer with opening-day festivities such as yoga and Zumba classes, games, the dog park, and many other programming opportunities. Our other two pilot projects were in 2013 in Detroit and Providence. I think Gary said it best when he said “our Purpose is to connect People to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel. Often, the important moments that happen during those connections include a special place—somewhere that has meaning, that brings people together, that creates a sense of belonging and a sense of community.” That is what Southwest is all about. We look forward to supporting the communities we serve throughout the United States and in our new international destinations with projects that help create these public places that are at the heart of the community. To learn more about the Heart of the Community program and PPS, visit www.pps.org/heart-of-the-community. #PlacesWeLUV
Last April, Southwest launched its Heart of the Community Program to support Placemaking, the activation of outdoor, public spaces in an effort to enhance and strengthen communities. Throughout the year, we’ve selected five projects to receive the Heart of the Community grant to enrich communities we serve around the nation. Today, we announced the University of Chicago’s Art + Public Life Initiative and its Office of Civic Engagement as the sixth project to receive a Heart of the Community grant. Southwest is in the business of connecting people to what’s important in their lives, and we realize these connections often centered on their communities. We believe public spaces have the power to transform communities and we’re excited to support the efforts to revitalize this space in Chicago, a city we’ve been serving for nearly 30 years, and our number one airport in terms of departures. The Chicago Heart of the Community grant will help transform a vacant lot in the Washington Park neighborhood into a community gathering place. Southwest will collaborate with Project with Public Spaces and the local community to reimagine and recreate the new area. Community members have participated in every step of the process so far, from planning to programming, with local artists submitting their design proposals. The project will be completed in 2015 to provide Chicago’s South Side a new community area. We look forward to continuing our support of the communities we serve through initiatives like Placemaking. To learn more about the Heart of the Community Program and Project for Public Spaces, visit http://www.pps.org/heart-of-the-community/.
It’s amazing what can be accomplished when we open our Hearts, put aside our differences, and come together for a common goal.
On Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service, Southwest Employees, friends, and family did just that when they braved the frigid temperatures and joined together for a whole-community effort to bring positive change to the English Avenue neighborhood in Atlanta. Volunteers worked to enhance the campus grounds at the former English Avenue Elementary school by clearing litter, leaves and debris, installing and painting shade structures and benches, and planting shrubs. They also painted murals to hang in the windows of abandoned buildings throughout the neighborhood and built chess tables outside St. Mark’s Church.
This was just one volunteer event that took place in the past year as part of our year-long commitment to help build resilience within this Atlanta neighborhood as well as neighborhoods in Chicago and Phoenix.
The story of the day is best shared by those who put their Hearts in action.
“Having people of various ages, races, and backgrounds working together toward a common goal of servitude felt amazing. A beautiful symphony of brotherhood was on full display as we painted, planted, assembled, and served in harmony as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned. It was an honor to participate and represent Southwest Airlines and my local Georgia Center on that fine day.”
—Charles Mason, Georgia Center Customer Support & Services Team Leader
“After completing my portrait that will be used in the windows of abandoned homes in the area, I looked back and saw all the beautiful creations that everyone completed! It was heartwarming with all the positive quotes and expressions of love that will make someone’s day brighter and hopefully leave a lasting impact.”
—Adrienne Dore, ATL Customer Representative
“That morning, the outside temperature was cold, but the energy was increasing as more and more people came out. I really got a true sense of community as I met people from all parts of Atlanta and the surrounding counties. It seemed to me, the common theme was "What can I do to help?” I was asked this question often during the day. The work went by so quickly that I did not realize how much was accomplished. It really showed me that we can come together and achieve a common goal.”
—Ray McGuffie, Hands On Atlanta Volunteer Leader
“What meant the most to me about serving the English Avenue neighborhood was that it gave this community an opportunity to see beauty beyond the current conditions. An abandoned building or in this case a school, brings the morale down and gives a sense of hopelessness. But beautifying that same place completely redirects the emotions to hope and you are able to see that it’s not forgotten and neither are the people of that community.”
—Desiree Salley, ATL Flight Attendant
“We had at least three members of the homeless community join us on the day of service. One man came up and asked if he could have something to eat. After he grabbed a few items, he took off his backpack and joined in on the work. A few minutes later, another homeless man asked if we were hiring. I told him, this was all volunteer work but he could grab a snack if he wanted. He grabbed a couple items and left. About 15-20 minutes later, he returned and said it was on his heart to come back and volunteer.”
—Raquel Hudson, Hands On Atlanta Project Leader
“It was the most amazing experience and full of so much love. I was in my element, a gathering of people working together to make a difference in a world that can be so cold. The relationships we have as neighbors that day changed, I saw something different in my neighbors. We could as residents put aside our differences and make a change.”
—Annie Moore, English Avenue resident
Are you looking for ways to put your Heart in Action? Visit allforgood.org to find a volunteer project or opportunity near you.
It really is amazing how a small act of kindness can make a profound difference in someone’s day…or life! We’ve all heard this saying a thousand times and have probably passed up opportunities to do something nice for someone else—I know I have! But last month I got to witness this firsthand when I enlisted the help of our Customers to send LUV to a child in need.
Here’s my story:
During boarding, a Customer stopped at the door and asked for a favor. I said sure! She wanted to know if she could take a picture of the plane because she was on her way to see her four-year-old niece who was having open-heart surgery. So after we boarded, I grabbed the PA and told the 140 Customers onboard what was going on and to show the LUV—and they nailed it!
Here’s the picture that this Customer shared with her niece.
A day later I received the following message on Facebook:
You don't know me, but you orchestrated an incredible moment that impacted my family and everyone that knows us in a magical way. My daughter Teagan underwent open heart surgery Friday. You had the pleasure of meeting my sister Amber.
That photo has created an overwhelming response for compassion and good. With all the crap going on in the world, it was a symbol that at the heart of everyone is the belief that love and kindness exist. I know you didn't do it for any personal benefit, but if I had my way, the whole world would know of you and of what you created. Thank you from the bottom of our now mended hearts! You are an amazing person, and I'm glad our paths crossed. God bless you. 💗 I'm sure this will not be the last you hear from me!
Along with this message was a family photo with little Teagan in the middle.
*An update on Teagan: After only 96 hours after open-heart surgery, she went home. Teagan had surgery on Friday, July 8, 2016 and left the hospital on Tuesday, July 12, 2016.
I am so glad that I was able to help Amber (Teagan’s Aunt) when she asked for a favor on the plane that day, and I am thankful that I work for a Company that lets us be ourselves. We are here to help our Customers, and as small of an act as it was, I did what I could to help this Customer. Thanks for letting me share my story, and best wishes to Teagan and her family!
Thank You for caring hearts going to help heal a heart. This is what makes your Airline a little more special! God Bless All in this wonderful picture!
Does anyone know of a site I can go to looking for possible point/mile donations? My grandpa passed away last night and would really like to make it for his service but I am unable to financially. I am a rapid rewards member but have very few points.my Name is Tarah Manning My rr# is20698370976 my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org in case anyone out there would be generous enough to transfer there unused points or help out..It is very hard asking for a helping hand but hopefully it will serve its purpose..I can provide hospice and or funeral info in case you would like to verify my story before donating..thanks for taking the time to read.hope to hear from u.
This is a guest blog post by Anjee Helstrup-Alvarez, Executive Director MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana
Southwest Airlines proudly gives back to the Hispanic community during Hispanic Heritage Month and all throughout the year through its support of nonprofit organizations like MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana.
I believe that art has the power to unite people and build community. Art is created with partnerships and with heart—you have to be passionate about what you do in any business, but especially in the arts. That is why I’m excited to go to work every day at MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana. Located in downtown San Jose, MACLA is an inclusive contemporary arts space grounded in the Chicano/Latino experience that incubates new visual, literary, and performance art in order to engage people in civic dialogue and community transformation. More than 35,000 people participate in our programs each year.
A strong community anchor since the early 1990s when we were the first arts group on our block, MACLA is now nationally recognized as an award-winning, best-in-class organization leading the dialogue about what’s important in multicultural society and providing a welcoming space for all. Our work is built on authentic partnerships—from our artists, to our audience members, to our youth participants, and to our corporate supporters.
While all of our partners have heart, not everyone features a Heart in their logo like Southwest Airlines. The Heart is symbolic of how Southwest Airlines is to MACLA as a partner—the Heart touches all aspects of our organization. Visual artists fly to San Jose for exhibition openings and share their art with our community. World-class performers from as far away as New York grace our stage and inspire us with new music, dance, and theater. Our youth are able to fly, often for the first time, learn public speaking skills, express themselves, and write their future at an annual poetry festival. Our staff is able to take full advantage of professional development opportunities that otherwise would be cost prohibitive.
This past year, I was thrilled to be one of 50 arts leaders selected to participate in the National Arts Strategies Chief Executive Program. The program kicked off at the Harvard School of Business. As I flew from San Jose to Boston for a week-long training, I welled up with gratitude when reflecting upon the partners who came to support my professional development. From the Kresge Foundation who covered my tuition to my Board at MACLA who encouraged me to take time away from the office to tackle big questions facing our community to my husband who agreed to care for our very active children while I was away, and Southwest Airlines who literally got me there and provided my travel.
On April 22, a group of 50 enthusiastic Southwest Employees gathered side-by-side with our families in Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza to bring life to this concrete place with new plants, clean-up, and many more beautifying tasks. What we did not know at the time was the transformative effect our efforts and Southwest’s support would have on the plaza. Not too long after the event, I went to observe how the Plaza was being enjoyed, and I was proud to see families having lunch, business professionals meeting, and visitors of all kinds together in one space. Civic Plaza looked fresh, alive, and inviting! It brought me great joy to witness it being utilized by so many people. Through Southwest’s Placemaking initiative, Heart of the Community, places like Civic Plaza shine, bringing community together to enjoy their city like never before. This effort makes me proud of my city of Albuquerque, a little oasis with a lot to offer. By creating beautiful places that people can enjoy and that attract visitors, we boost the city economy and improve the quality of life for everyone. What an amazing thing to be a part of! It has been incredibly satisfying to not only make a hands-on contribution to the revitalization of the Plaza, but to now be able to sit back and enjoy it. Next Friday, Southwest will celebrate the launch of Civic Plaza in partnership with DowntownABQ Main Street and Project for Public Spaces. I am looking forward to attending and enjoying all the activities the Plaza has to offer. I can’t wait to see how my efforts and those of my Cohearts and Company have paid off. Southwest Airlines connects People to the places that mean the most to them. Through Heart of the Community, we’re extending that purpose by encouraging more connections on the ground and helping local residents, like myself, feel a sense of ownership in the places they share. We strive to make residents proud to call their city home. Civic Plaza is the heart of my community! Southwest Airlines is currently accepting applications for the 2016 Heart of the Community grant program with partner, Project for Public Spaces. To date, the program has served 12 innovative and transformative projects. To read more, visit pps.org/Heart-of-the-Community.