At Southwest Airlines, our Employees make it their mission to connect People to what’s important in their lives, but some Employees take it a step further. They connect Hearts.
Like many of our stories, it all started on a plane. Las Vegas-based Flight Attendant, Gina Duvall, connected with fellow Coheart, Gary Bjarke, Dallas-based Director Contract Services in Technical Operations. In Gina’s words, “When I caught Gary's ear on a flight, and with his ties to the community, it was serendipitous!”
Gina and Gary discovered something they had in common beyond working at Southwest—Gina lives in Albuquerque, and Gary was born and raised in New Mexico. Gina asked if Gary and his Team would be willing to help her support New Mexico Kids Matter, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving children who have been abused or neglected.
Gary went to his Team in Dallas, and Senior Manager Airframe Field Services, Joe Brown. Joe says, “For me it started with Gary asking us to get involved. With the passion that Gina and Gary had for this effort, we had to get behind it. His Heart is so big and we could see how touched he was when he talked to us about it.”
Gary’s passion for this cause is evident. “It’s really about the kids. Through no fault of their own, these kids are removed from their homes, and in many cases separated from their siblings, and placed in a foster home with few or no personal effects. Think about that, the people who brought you into this world—and the one place that the majority of us consider our safe place—are gone. When I look into the eyes of some of these kids, it crushes me. I just want them to know that people do care and they do matter.”
At this year’s event, 228 backpacks were handed out with school supplies. Thanks to the fundraising efforts of Gary’s Team, each child received a $100.00 Target gift card, a value of $22,800. The children were then introduced to a volunteer shopper who helped them shop for back to school clothes and other necessities. Additionally, through Southwest Airlines’ Tickets for Time program, New Mexico Kids Matter earned four roundtrips. They plan to use the tickets to travel to other states to promote awareness and to raise money for the cause.
Gina shared, “Beyond the joy of helping my community I have learned that as Employees of Southwest we have a different drive when it involves helping those who are less fortunate. Maybe because we are fighters and our history is based on being the ‘under dog’, but it is an unexplainable feeling when we gather from all over Inflight, Tech Ops Support, Provisioning, Customer Service, Call Center Support, and Operations to help these children.”
Joe put it best when he said, “When we go to events like this, I believe Gina gives us too much credit. It is her Heart and Dedication to these kids that is amazing. We are blessed to be involved and that all started with Gina getting Gary’s ear on a plane.”
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” In this case, Teamwork truly made dreams come true for some very deserving children in New Mexico.
Rachel Roberts, Gary Bjarke, Joe Brown, (Joe's daughter), and Gina Duvall
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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/.
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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
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At Southwest Airlines, we’re known for giving from the heart, whether that is giving great Customer Service or serving our communities by giving our time through volunteerism. Each and every day, we connect People to what’s important in their lives, which can be going to see friends and family; experiencing a special occasion; or, sometimes, that something important can be making a positive difference at home. Our Servant’s Hearts beat strongly at Southwest and in our communities, and we are proud to introduce our newest “From the Heart” ad that celebrates our commitment to our communities and to what’s important - each other.
The commercial shows our wonderful Southwest Airlines Employees serving our Customers whether it is at 30,000 feet or in their communities in a variety of ways. We believe in connecting people to what’s important in their lives. Service means many things, and at Southwest, it means a smile, a helping hand, and going the extra mile. We may be an airline, but we do some of our best work on the ground. Keep an eye out for the commercials on Fox, CBS, and NBC during your favorite NFL games over the next couple of Sundays. Learn more about all that we do at southwest.com/citizenship or by searching #LUVfromtheheart.
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We may be an airline, but we do some of our best work on the ground. That’s the theme of the new Southwest ad campaign you may have seen while watching the NFL over the holidays! These new spots celebrated Southwest Employees and highlighted how we give back and make a positive difference in the communities we serve. Like the holiday season, the ads on TV have come and gone, but we liked them so much we’ve compiled the best highlights in this video for you to enjoy. Southwest Airlines is dedicated to the communities we serve—whether our Pilots are in 5 th grade classrooms using their time off the clock to educate students and plan for future success through our Adopt-A-Pilot program, or Employees in our Network Planning Department are rolling up their sleeves to plant a community garden, or our Employees are serving on local boards and Chambers. Wherever our Employees are giving back, it always comes from the heart. This video illustrates what giving back means to Southwest and all the many ways we care about our Employees, our Customers, and our Communities where we live and work. Southwest is a Company who cares, and we give back in a variety of ways. No matter how or where we are serving, one thing remains the same- it always comes from the heart.
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We may be an airline, but we do some of our best work on the ground. That’s the theme of the new Southwest ad campaign that will debut in primetime during NFL starting Sunday, Dec. 16! The new spots celebrate Southwest Employees and highlight how we give back and make a positive difference in the communities we serve. Southwest Airlines is dedicated to the communities we serve—whether our Pilots are in 5 th grade classrooms using their time off the clock to educate students and plan for future success through our Adopt-A-Pilot program, or Employees in our Network Planning Department are rolling up their sleeves to plant a community garden, or our Employees are serving on local boards and Chambers. Wherever our Employees are giving back, it always comes from the heart. This ad campaign illustrates what giving back means to Southwest and all the many ways we care about our Employees, our Customers, and our Communities where we live alongside you. It highlights a sampling of ways we give back such as civic, military, environment, and mentoring efforts. Southwest is a Company who cares, and we look forward to showing you how we LUV to serve the next time you choose the LUV airline for your travel needs! Be sure to tune in starting Dec. 16 through Dec. 31 to see these great new advertising spots!
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A band of tornadoes that pummeled the South made their way from Oklahoma up through North Carolina and Virginia Saturday evening and this week’s weather has continued to be relentless. Our hearts go out to those affected by these and other devastating natural disasters.
The American Red Cross is responding to these storms, which affected Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, and Virginia. North Carolina endured the most damage and the governors of Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, and Virginia have all declared a state of emergency. In addition to the recent tornadoes, the Red Cross is also responding to the flooding in North Dakota and Minnesota, the Texas wildfires, as well as previous tornadoes that affected Iowa and Pennsylvania.
We are proud that we have been working closely with the Red Cross to provide assistance and response where it is needed. Southwest Airlines is committed to supporting organizations like the Red Cross that focus on disaster preparedness and response. Today, Southwest Airlines was announced as a member of the Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program based on our support. As a member of the American Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program we ensure the Red Cross can be on the scene of a disaster at a moment’s notice. When disasters like the recent tornadoes, wildfires and flooding occur the Red Cross is there to provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to people in need. We are proud to stand beside the Red Cross as they help those affected by disaster.
Our support of the Red Cross helps to immediately provide the following services:
In Virginia, the Red Cross has distributed over 10,000 meals and snacks, provided approximately 100 clean-up and comfort kits, and deployed 65 workers to support the relief operation. In response to wildfires across Texas, the Red Cross has provided shelter to approximately 330 people, and they have served over 1,800 meals and snacks to affected residents and first responders. The Red Cross has served more than 160,262 meals and snacks in response to the flooding along the Red River in North Dakota and Minnesota. The Red Cross has 12 Emergency Response Vehicles deployed for this operation. Volunteers and shelters remain on standby should additional families need assistance and the Red Cross continues to assess the damage across affected states.
More information on how the Red Cross is responding to these disasters and how you can lend your support, visit www.redcross.org.
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I would just like to say THANK YOU Southwest Airlines...each and every time I've flown has been a nice experience. I know that everyone has rough days, but I have never seen it from any of the employees. I've been impressed with the great customer service provided by everyone from your gate personnel, the flight attendants and crew. I would also like to say thank you for appreciation of Our Nations Veterans and Active Duty members. Keep up the great work.
HMC Nicole Jackson
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