Embracing our Servant’s Heart and giving back to our communities is one of the many ways Southwest Airlines Employees Live the Southwest Way. As a Flight Attendant for Southwest for the past 21 years, I’ve always been passionate about volunteering and I’m thankful to be part of a Company that supports this passion.
Through a program called Tickets for Time, when our Employees give back, so does Southwest. For every 40 hours of volunteer time that our Employees contribute to a qualified nonprofit organization or school, that organization is eligible to receive domestic travel in the form of Southwest Flight e-Passes. Recently, a project that started as a Tickets for Time effort evolved into a community opportunity that surpassed my wildest dreams with the help of nearly 30 Southwest Employees and numerous community partners!
Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Hoover Middle School teaches sixth through eighth grade students and also has a special education program. Many of the children in the special education program at Hoover are either low mobility or non-verbal, so much of their curriculum is centered on education about daily living activities. I regularly volunteer at Hoover and became involved with this project when the construction of a community garden was suggested for the special education students to use for de-escalation and sensory stimulation. Principal Sanchez of Hoover immediately reached out to Southwest, as she had worked with us in the past and knew we would be passionate about helping these students. The rest is a truly serendipitous story that could have only taken place at Southwest!
Throughout the course of the project we faced quite a few roadblocks, motivating us even more as our Warrior Spirit kicked in. As a commuting Flight Attendant, I have the opportunity to connect with many of our Customers which ended up helping this project succeed! A locally owned company, Utility Block, shares similar core values as Southwest and was happy to donate the hundreds of blocks needed for the project. Once the blocks to build the garden were secured, I struggled to find the funds to fill the garden. I began a conversation with a Customer I recognized on a flight, who ended up being a regional manager at Lowe’s. She quickly introduced me to the manager of our community Lowe's who was inspired by our project and donated the soil and plants for the garden! In a similar situation, the manager from Smith’s Grocery donated all of the food for our volunteers for the day of construction. It seemed that every time a need arose somehow it was filled, proving that when we work as One Team, All Heart we are unstoppable.
On May 26, it was an amazing experience to break ground. And now, the dream of one garden for this school is two separate garden areas: one that produces food and fruit and another that grows flowers and herbs. None of this would be possible without the Southwest Team and I’m excited to see this garden continue to grow!
When our Employees come together with creativity, innovation, and most importantly, Heart, it is truly a winning combination.