Repurpose with Purpose is Southwest’s award-winning program, which provides grant funding and aircraft seat leather to nonprofit organizations, school districts, and social enterprises to upcycle the leather into new products and provide employment, skills training, and other social benefits for communities worldwide.
Southwest was introduced to Magpies and Peacocks by Nest, one of our existing Repurpose with Purpose partners. Nest is a nonprofit organization that supports artisan and maker communities worldwide. Through advocacy and programming, they aim to build a world of greater gender equity and economic inclusion for these communities.
Magpies & Peacocks’ work perfectly matched Repurpose with Purpose, and the partnership was cleared for takeoff! As the nation's only nonprofit design house dedicated to the collection, curation, and sustainable reuse of post-consumer textiles, they collaborate with designers and artists to create unique upcycled products using materials donated by the fashion and interior industry, costume designers, and even the NFL.
Until now, they had never worked with aircraft seat leather.
Without delay, artists and designers from Magpies & Peacocks began creating “Take Flight,” a sustainable collection of chic, wearable fashions using aircraft seat leather from three aircraft.
Magpies and Pies After Dark Model on Runway“Magpies & Peacocks products are always a vehicle for a message of environmental sustainability, so we were naturally honored to be included in Southwest’s Repurpose with Purpose program!” said Magpies & Peacocks Founder Sarah-Jayne Smith.
After months of work, the designs were ready to be unveiled, and who could be better to walk the runway in couture made from upcycled aircraft seat leather than Southwest Employees! Southwest Flight Attendant Travasha Runyon and Customer Service Agent Kimberli Walton volunteered their time to showcase these handcrafted pieces that were focal points of the fundraising event.
Flight Attendant Travasha models on the runway. Photo credit Nicole Corderio, HOU Ground Operations Assurance Auditor.“It was amazing getting to work with talented designers working together for a great cause. I can’t believe they were able to create such beautiful designs with the leather I’m used to seeing every day at work!” said Southwest Flight Attendant Travasha Runyon
Customer Service Agent Kimberli hits the runway. Photo credit Nicole Corderio, HOU Ground Operations Assurance Auditor.“As a durable, flexible material, [the aircraft seat leather] lends itself to simple, strong silhouettes and structured tailoring—so we took our inspiration from the soft curves of the aircraft seating and the way that the material refracts light,” said Sarah-Jayne Smith, Magpies & Peacocks Founder.
At the end of the “After Dark” fashion show, the pieces were auctioned off alongside sixty handcrafted bags made with—you guessed it—Southwest aircraft seat leather, which had been beautifully painted by award-winning and internationally recognized Houston graffiti artist GONZO247. Funds from the event will support Magpies & Peacocks’ work to create sustainable collections using upcycled material and provide employment, skill-building, and sustainable education for the Houston community.
GONZO247 Bags. Photo credit Nicole Corderio, HOU Ground Operations Assurance Auditor.
Raffle winners pose with their prizes
Raffle winners pose with their prizesMagpies & Peacocks and Southwest are already scheming up some fun ideas for collaboration in 2024—the 10th anniversary for Repurpose with Purpose—and we are always looking for new, creative ways our aircraft seat leather can be transformed!
Comment below and let us know what you want to see made with our upcycled aircraft seat leather!
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A partner in Southwest’s Repurpose with Purpose program, Unshattered has expanded their Possibilities Take Flight collection to include the errand, makeup, keychain, and messenger bag. The collection of sustainable travel bags and accessories—made with upcycled Southwest aircraft seat leather—were designed, handcrafted, and sewn by a team of professionally trained female artisans winning their battle against addiction.
As Unshattered works to transform their new space into a place of healing for their employees, guests, and community, they also continue to expand their product line with the goal to increase sales which support women with a combination of community, employment, and personal and professional development. This combination gives them the opportunity to find their purpose and live an addiction-free life.
Every bag handcrafted from something discarded and made whole again represents second chances for both the materials and the women crafting them. In honor of these incredible women and those still struggling in addiction, three secrets are hidden within each bag.
The liner of the bags includes a hidden message written by the artist who made the bag.
Each bag is named after someone still struggling with addiction.
Honoring the Japanese art form of Kintsugi, where cracked pottery is repaired with gold lacquer to highlight the breaks, each bag has a seam of gold thread and serves as a metaphor for the women artisans, who are themselves more beautiful for having been broken.
Learn more about Unshattered and shop with purpose at unshattered.org. 100% of your purchase supports women on their journey of growth and healing on the other side of addiction.
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Did you know that every Southwest airplane receives a full aircraft overhaul every four years? Ever wonder where all that aircraft seat leather goes?
Each year, Southwest donates thousands of pounds of leather to provide employment, skills training, and other social benefits for organizations and communities around the world, including the charming Turrialba, Costa Rica.
A beautiful partnership in the heart of Turrialba has taken off on the
campus of The Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) and in Mollejones, a picturesque, close-knit community in the mountains of Costa Rica.
CATIE is a regional center dedicated to research and graduate education in agriculture and the management, conservation, and sustainable use of natural resources. Its work in the outreach space supporting the economic, social, and environmental development of rural communities aligns beautifully with Southwest’s focus on being a good global citizen, making this partnership a perfect match for Southwest’s award-winning Repurpose with Purpose program, a global sustainability initiative that partners with organizations to upcycle thousands of pounds of aircraft seat leather into new products each year, keeping it out of landfills.
Southwest first connected with CATIE three years ago to begin discussions around expanding its Repurpose with Purpose Program internationally by donating aircraft seat leather and capacity-building grants to the organization. The goal of this impactful program is to build resilient communities by creating employment opportunities for women and men in rural Costa Rica utilizing donated material.
Fast forward to 2023, CATIE and Southwest celebrated the inauguration of the expanded and repurposed space on campus that is now home to CATIE’s Repurpose with Purpose Program. This space that was once an unused gym is now a welcoming and vibrant workshop serving as the hub for women and men participating in skill-building leather workshops and entrepreneurial training. Equipped with industrial machines, tools, and of course, leather, the community-building space provides a place where camaraderie and friendships have also taken flight!
The first cohort—including some who travel more than an hour each way to participate in the program—completed the program and graduated with new skills and a vision to create their own businesses. For many, this was their first certification of any kind. With thousands of community members cheering them on, 26 program participants beamed with joy as they walked across the stage to receive their certificate during CATIE’s International Feria. As they say, in Costa Rica, it was a Pura Vida moment!
During the Feria, the program artisans welcomed everyone to the Repurpose with Purpose tent, where they shared their experiences participating in the program, showcased and sold their handcrafted products, and even recruited people to join the next cohort, which now includes 30 people participating in the training program. This fall, six program graduates will submit a business plan with the opportunity to receive an entrepreneurial grant to support their idea.
It all starts with material!
Southwest donated thousands of pounds of aircraft seat leather to CATIE to support this program. The material lands on campus directly after coming off planes during scheduled aircraft overhauls. An important first step is the work needed to prepare the material for upcycling—deconstruction and cleaning—before it touches down in the workshop where it will then takeoff as a new product that is handcrafted with LUV by program participants.
CATIE partnered with Mollejones—a small, rural community with minimal access to resources and work—to employ community members to do this critical first step to prepare the material. CATIE has been providing outreach to the Mollejones community for many years and knew they would be the perfect partner for this workforce development opportunity. The Mollejones Community Association employed 16 community members on 618 Días de Cuero—leather days—to unstitch, clean, sort, and package and deliver 1,674 seats to CATIE.
With stunning views of the rain forest, Mollejones is also home to a community of people with huge hearts who work together to find opportunities to generate economic impact for their families and community. It’s a beautiful collaboration of neighbors taking care of neighbors.
Mother and son, Laura and David Vargas, are both very engaged in the leather project. David, currently in high school, has worked as part of the leather deconstruction team and helps his mom with her leather products business, both selling at local ferias as well as her home business. Laura hosts tourists in her home, teaching the art of breadmaking from her wood-fired tin oven, and then invites them to visit her leather product shop. With the additional income earned from the sale of leather products, the Vargas family was able to purchase a new balcony overlooking the mountains of Turrialba, a peaceful spot where they enjoy coffee together and host tourists. Laura’s next goal is to purchase an industrial sewing machine to help her leather products business further.
At Southwest, our Heart is to connect people and champion communities like the beautiful community of Turrialba. This partnership with CATIE connects new opportunities to people, champions communities, and supports advancing our environmental sustainability efforts.
We look forward to expanding our partnership with CATIE to empower more women and men in Costa Rica to start new businesses and develop new skills for employment opportunities!
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As part of Earth Month, Southwest Airlines is highlighting its impactful partnership with EcoRise and their mission to advance environmental literacy, sustainable schools, and equitable access to green career pathways.
One way Southwest supports EcoRise is by providing air travel for teachers to attend the Teacher Ambassador Summer Institute. The Institute provides teachers the opportunity to meet other educators, collaborate on sustainability ideas, and learn from the EcoRise Team.
Teacher Ambassadors are making a difference in their schools and communities, and Southwest is proud to play a part in their EcoRise experience and journey to activate the next generation of sustainable leaders.
The following was guest authored by Nina Acevedo, a third through eighth-grade math and science teacher at PS/IS 192 in New York City, The Magnet School for Math and Science Inquiry.
I’m passionate about looking for ways to help students get involved in caring for the environment. Becoming an EcoRise Teacher Ambassador helped me join a community of teacher leaders who share my passion for making a difference through education and the environment.
Southwest partners with EcoRise to support their mission to spread awareness about K–12 environmental education across the country. As an EcoRise Teacher Ambassador, Southwest’s support helped me travel to Austin, Texas for the EcoRise Summer Institute—a three-day professional development summit specifically designed for teachers.
During the Institute, I learned leadership skills and met other Ambassadors who are also passionate about impacting their schools and communities through sustainability initiatives and learned more about the projects their students are implementing. Southwest made it easy for me to travel and get the most out of the experience.
The EcoRise staff offered guidance on lessons I use to teach my students about the environment throughout the school year. I also learned how to participate in EcoRise’s Eco-Audit Grants, which challenge students to collect and analyze environmental data, identify an issue in their school or community, design a solution, and bring it to life. After attending the Summer Institute, I was able to officially become an EcoRise Teacher Ambassador, which has helped me grow as a teacher.
All that I’ve learned and the support I continue to receive from the Ambassador Program helped me start a Green Team with the seventh and eighth graders this year. Together, we worked to improve the school’s recycling program.
Thanks to the student’s ideas and the Eco-Audit Grant funds, we now have recycling bins on every floor of the school, and we work together with the afterschool programs to make sure the recycling gets from the school to the proper dumpster. The Green Team has even taken the initiative to provide learning opportunities to younger students by visiting their classrooms and hosting assemblies to teach students about the importance of recycling.
The students are growing their impact as change-makers by teaching the younger students and encouraging them to continue the recycling program when they move on to high school. I am very grateful to Southwest for being part of the journey to bring these ideas to life, and I can’t wait to see our recycling program grow!
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Every survivor of Human Trafficking should have the tools and community to rebuild their lives. Human trafficking—the use of force, fraud, or coercion to perform a sexual act for profit—is a $150 billion a year global industry. Ninety percent of women want to leave the sex trade but don’t, because of a lack of access to jobs and a new life. A woman who has survived human trafficking needs a way to not be one of the 80% that return. Access to resources to rebuild her life are critical.
Since 2012, Jacksonville, Florida nonprofit Rethreaded has been providing a safe, supportive work environment where human trafficking survivors earn money while learning skills, and experiencing healing through community. Women begin to rethread their lives with this critical support and 85% of women who come to Rethreaded, never returned to trafficking.
Rethreaded joined Southwest Airlines’ Repurpose with Purpose program in 2017. Through capacity building grants, Rethreaded developed, designed, and produced a line of leather accessories made from upcycled Southwest leather seat covers. Support from Southwest has also allowed Rethreaded to scale its operations and create a new revenue stream through its Corporate Gifts of Hope Program. Rethreaded is also a community leader raising awareness of the impact of human trafficking by hosting groups to participate in the “Reclaim the Light Volunteer Experience”, educating people on the availability of resources and trauma-informed care. Recently, Southwest Employees from our Jacksonville Station participated in the training and ended their volunteer time deconstructing Southwest seats which will go into the production process to make new products.
Combating Human Trafficking is an important focus for Southwest as it can happen on our aircraft. That’s why we work with nonprofit partners combating this issue and prioritize opportunities to help identify indicators and advocate for those who may be in a difficult situation.
“I truly believe in giving back to the Communities we serve. Southwest has afforded me the opportunity to partner with great entities that share the same belief,” shared JAX Station Manager, Rosa. “Volunteering at Rethreaded has given me a purpose. Southwest supplies them with the leather seats and they in turn make products from that leather that gives Human Trafficking Survivors a new lease on life. I have joined their “Sister Circle”, where I’ll be able to help on a continuous basis. Who would have thought that just one invitation to volunteer at Rethreaded would have turned into an experience that touched my soul!”
By purchasing Rethreaded products you are part of giving a survivor of human trafficking a chance to renew her hope, reignite her dreams, and release her potential. You become part of a new community that allows her to rethread her life and start again. Southwest is proud to support Rethreaded as they educate about human trafficking and create a choice and community for women who have survived human trafficking.
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Located in Hopewell Junction, New York, Unshattered is a nonprofit social enterprise whose mission is to end the addiction relapse cycle by providing pathways toward economic independence and sustained sobriety.
Unshattered joined Southwest’s Repurpose with Purpose program earlier this year with the launch of their Possibilities Take Flight collection. The collection of sustainable travel bags and accessories—made with upcycled Southwest aircraft seat leather—were designed and sewn by a team of professionally trained female artisans winning their battle against addiction.
Every bag is handcrafted from something discarded and made whole again, representing second chances for both the materials and the women crafting them. In honor of the women and those still struggling in addiction, three secrets are hidden within each bag.
The liner of the bags includes a message written by the artist who made the bag.
Each bag is named after someone still struggling with addiction.
Honoring the Japanese art form of Kintsugi, where cracked pottery is repaired with gold lacquer to highlight the breaks, each bag has a seam of gold thread and serves as a metaphor for the women artisans, who are themselves more beautiful for having been broken.
“Unshattered is really honored to be part of the Repurpose with Purpose program, shared Unshattered founder and CEO Kelly Lyndgaard. “It is a great match for our work of taking materials that were discarded and headed for a landfill and remaking them into something beautiful and amazing.”
Learn more about Unshattered and shop with purpose this holiday season at unshattered.org. For every purchase made, 100% of the proceeds goes toward supporting the women on their journey of growth and healing on the other side of addiction.
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Help Heal Veterans is a nonprofit organization that provides free art therapy kits to hospitalized and homebound veterans to use as a therapeutic and rehabilitation tool. Since 2018, more than 140,000 kits made with upcycled leather from Southwest seat covers have been delivered to over 85,000 veterans.
Help Heal Veterans and Southwest teamed up with Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools to create the Repurpose with Purpose Goes to School Upcycle Design Challenge. This competition offered middle and high school visual art students the opportunity to design a wallet therapy kit using repurposed Southwest seat covers.
The Help Heal Veterans team had the difficult task of choosing the winning design. And the winner is—*drum roll*—Caroline Stone!
Caroline was thrilled to learn that the Help Heal Veterans team selected her design with plans of manufacturing and delivering more than 12,000 kits to veterans across the country. The next surprise was equally as exciting—she would be flying to San Diego alongside her parents and teacher, Ian Isom, to see her wallet in production.
After months of planning, the travel day arrived and Southwest Employees really delivered on making every step of her journey extra special. Southwest’s Nashville station created a fun and festive sendoff for Caroline by introducing her and her project to the Customers in the gate area. The Inflight Crew truly made Caroline feel special with in-flight announcements about her project—they even put her Flight Attendant skills to work by passing out the wallet kits to other Customers onboard. Last but not least, Team San Diego welcomed Caroline with cheers and wonderful signs highlighting her project.
Help Heal Veterans warmly welcomed Caroline with a behind-the-scenes tour of their manufacturing facility where she was able to see her wallet kits in production, provided her gift cards to use on the trip, and even surprised everyone with a food truck for lunch to end the visit.
Caroline, congratulations from all your friends at Southwest Airlines and Help Heal Veterans! We absolutely LUV your wallet design and we know that your work is making an impact on veterans across the country.
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Southwest Airlines is excited to welcome the Tropical Agricultural and Higher Education Center (CATIE) to the Repurpose with Purpose family!
Headquartered in Turrialba, Costa Rica, with 13 member countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, CATIE aims to promote a route to achieve Inclusive Green Development, through the construction of human capital, and institutional strengthening for research, development, and external projection.
The mission of CATIE aligns with our focus to do well, by doing good—making their work a perfect match for our Repurpose with Purpose initiative. Repurpose with Purpose is a global sustainability initiative that upcycles items such as leather seat covers and transforms them into new products. Southwest partners with organizations, like CATIE, to reimagine thousands of pounds of materials every year, diverting them from landfills. Since 2016, we’ve donated more than $1.3 million dollars in grants and 1.4 million pounds of leather to provide employment, skills training, and other social benefits for our Communities.
Costa Rica has a very diverse set of people but there is a very large population of rural Costa Ricans, especially women, who are without access to resources or work. Through leather and cash grants from Southwest, this program will provide these women support, gaining knowledge and skills to not only craft beautiful products made from the upcycled leather, but also how to market the products in order to generate economic impact for their families and community.
In 2021, Southwest delivered its first shipment of 6,000 leather seat covers to CATIE with the first workshop taking place in March of this year. While these amazing products aren’t available for sale quite yet, check out this website to learn more about CATIE’s work.
We look forward to expanding our partnership with CATIE to inspire and empower women across Costa Rica!
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Southwest Airlines is excited to welcome a new partner—Unshattered—to our Repurpose with Purpose family. Repurpose with Purpose is our global sustainability initiative that upcycles items such as leather seat coverings, and partners
with social impact organizations, including Unshattered, to transform the leather into new products.
Located in Hopewell Junction, New York, Unshattered is a 501c3 nonprofit that employs women in recovery to make premium handbags and accessories out of upcycled materials. Unshattered’s mission is to end the addiction relapse cycle by providing pathways toward economic stability and long-term sobriety. Through their unique business model, employees are provided with employment, personal development training, community, and a second chance at life after addiction.
When we learned about Unshattered’s mission and their plan to use upcycled leather for a new product line of travel bags, we knew it would be a LUV connection perfect for Southwest and our Repurpose with Purpose program! Using donated Southwest leather seat covers, Unshattered created the Possibilities Take Flight collection of travel bags and accessories.
These beautifully designed bags were handcrafted and sewn by a team of professionally trained female artisans overcoming their battle against addiction. Each handbag is unique and has a story, like the women who make them. Honoring the Japanese art form of Kintsugi, where cracked pottery is repaired with gold lacquer to highlight the breaks, each bag has a seam of gold thread and serves as a metaphor for the women artisans, who are themselves more beautiful for having been broken.
Just like the upcycled Southwest seat leather used to craft these bags, the women of Unshattered are being made new again. These bags are changing the lives of the women who craft them, providing pathways toward economic independence and sustained sobriety.
We are pleased to bring awareness to Unshattered, an organization making a transformational impact, and excited to announce that the Possibilities Take Flight collection has landed! Learn more about Unshattered’s mission and check out their beautiful bags today!
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The mission of Nashville-based nonprofit Turnip Green Creative Reuse (TGCR) is to foster creativity and sustainability through reuse. Repurpose with Purpose is Southwest Airlines' global sustainability initiative that upcycles items such as leather seat coverings and transforms them into new products. We knew the sky would be the limit when we invited TGCR to join Southwest’s portfolio of Repurpose with Purpose partners!
As part of the partnership, in 2021 Southwest provided a grant to support The Turnip S.E.A.T project, a TGCR project that focuses on sustainability, education, arts, and transformation. TGCR has repurposed more than 120,000 pounds of Southwest Airlines leather seat covers providing creative, empowering, and environmental opportunities for the middle Tennessee community.
Courtesy of Calloway Bailey The seat covers were woven into all aspects of TGCR’s service offerings including their creative reuse center, open studio, educational outreach, and green gallery as well as Turnip Seed, their pop-up community and sculpture garden which houses two shipping containers that both store the leather and feature the Repurpose with Purpose Gallery, showcasing local artisan works made with the leather.
TGCR has been able to provide employment opportunities, hands-on creative learning opportunities for Metropolitan Nashville Public School students and built a community of artisans utilizing repurposed leather seat covers provided by Southwest. Check out the video to learn more about TGCR.
If you are interested in supporting TGCR and exploring items made from Southwest seat covers, visit their online marketplace at https://www.turnipgreencreativereuse.org/repurpose
Courtesy of Ellen Schlabach
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January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and one of the many ways we support survivors of Human Trafficking is through our partnerships. Southwest Airlines is honored to partner with Jacksonville, Florida-based nonprofit Rethreaded—one of our Repurpose with Purpose (RwP) partners. Rethreaded gives career opportunities to women who have experienced exploitation and trauma coming out of human trafficking.
The women begin with a three-month development program that includes on-the-job training as well as mental health counseling, crisis management, and case management. They are then fully integrated into the business through one of five departments and are pivotal in all aspects of the organization. For example, with the upcycled Southwest leather from seat covers, the women work on product development and design, marketing the accessories, and tracking the sales in finance.
In addition to being a RwP partner, Rethreaded is a fantastic resource for Southwest on Human Trafficking. Throughout January, we encourage you to take a moment and check out the fantastic resources available through Rethreaded by visiting https://rethreaded.com/get-educated/Resources include:
Facts about Human Trafficking
Myths of Human Trafficking
Groups of Individuals Who Are Most Vulnerable to Human Trafficking
Signs of Someone Who is Experiencing Human Trafficking
The most important thing you can do to help survivors of human trafficking is to listen to them. Listen to their stories, their hardships, and their needs. Other ways you can help are researching, volunteering, and supporting anti-trafficking efforts. If you are in the United States and believe someone may be a victim of human trafficking, call the 24-hour National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or report an emergency to law enforcement by calling 911. Trafficking victims, whether or not U.S. citizens, are eligible for services and immigration assistance.
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In celebration of our 50 th Anniversary, Southwest Airlines donated 50,000 pounds of used aircraft leather seat coverings to the Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) district to support the expansion of our Repurpose with Purpose (RwP) program to the public education community – for the first time ever!
Repurpose with Purpose is a global sustainability initiative that upcycles items such as leather seat coverings and transforms them into new products. Through RwP, Southwest Airlines supports communities by helping to provide employment, skills training, and donated products. Since 2016, more than 1.6 million pounds of leather seat covers have been donated, helping Southwest reduce the amount of waste it sends to landfills while also generating social and economic opportunities for communities.
Repurpose with Purpose Goes to School supports a unique sustainability design challenge for more than 6,000 K-12 MNPS Visual Arts Department students in a 3D environment. Nashville-based nonprofit PENCIL provided support on the project by accepting and providing storage for the leather. Supporting their workforce development initiative, Turnip Green Creative Reuse hired local community members to process, deconstruct, clean, and assemble Flight to Our Future art kits for the students. Southwest also provided leather tools for each participating class so the students would be set up for success. More than 2,800 Flight to our Future art kits were distributed to MNPS elementary students. In this project, students used Southwest seats and other sustainable resources to tell a visual story representing themselves about their future.
Using the repurposed seat covers, MNPS visual art middle and high school students were empowered to use their creativity to design a new product or a wallet art therapy kit for Help Heal Veterans, a nonprofit based in California—and Repurpose with Purpose partner—that provides free kits to hospitalized and homebound veterans to use as a therapeutic and rehabilitation tool.
Martin Luther King Jr. Academic High 9 th Grade Student, Caroline Stone’s, wallet design was selected as the winning design for Help Heal Veterans. Help Heal Veterans will manufacture a limited edition of Caroline's wallet design for distribution in 2022. Southwest will fly Caroline and her parents, along with her teacher Ian Isom, to San Diego in early 2022 to visit Help Heal Veterans where they will see Caroline’s wallet design in production.
As the grand finale of the project, BNA Arts in the Airport partnered on the project to elevate the student artwork to gallery status. A selection of student designs were chosen to be part of the Repurpose with Purpose Goes to School exhibit at BNA’s Arts in the Airport, a program that showcases the region’s visual and performing arts. The exhibition celebrates the students’ work in the sustainability space and will be on display for the enjoyment of Nashville International’s passengers and visitors through May 2022.
Nashville school trip. (Photos courtesy of Katie Kauss)Southwest and BNA hosted MNPS students, parents, and teachers for a behind-the-scenes tour of Southwest’s BNA operation—highlighting careers in aviation—and ended the tour on Southwest’s Concourse D to unveil the student art on display, complete with congratulations from Southwest Customers and Employees in the gate area who joined in the celebration. “Teachers have reported a high level of student engagement on the Repurpose with Purpose Goes to School project,” said Allison Ross, MNPS Visual Arts Coordinator. “We were excited to be the pilot program partner and look forward to continuing and growing the program.”
In this project, students used Southwest seats and other sustainable resources to tell a visual story representing themselves about their future. (Photos courtesy of Katie Kauss)We believe in living responsibly, respecting our resources, and sharing our passion with others – because community is more than a place, it’s at the Heart of what brings us together. Thanks to MNPS Visual Art teachers and students for joining us in this expansion of Repurpose with Purpose. If your travels take you to Nashville International Airport over the next few months be sure to check out the Repurpose with Purpose Goes to School exhibit on Concourse D.
Be sure to check out the Repurpose with Purpose Goes to School exhibit on Concourse D. (Photos courtesy of Katie Kauss)
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Throughout Southwest Airlines’ 50-year history, we have been committed to supporting the brave military men and women. In the Southwest Airlines Family, we have more than 7,200 Employees who have served or are currently serving our country, and over 1,550 military spouses.
Our gratitude for the military also extends to the communities we serve. Southwest has several partnerships with military-focused nonprofit organizations, providing tangible support through our community outreach efforts. One of these partnerships is with The PTSD Foundation of America. Southwest supports PTSD Foundation by providing complimentary airline tickets to Combat Veterans so they can travel to participate in Camp Hope, a program designed to help them focus on their journey to healing.
The Veterans also receive therapeutic art kits from Help Heal Veterans, a Southwest Airlines Repurpose with Purpose partner. Southwest has donated thousands of pounds of our aircraft seat leather to Help Heal Veterans so they can make craft kits that help injured and recuperating veterans improve fine motor skills, cognitive functioning, manage stress and substance abuse, cope with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury - while also improving their sense of self-esteem and overall physical and mental health.
In honor of our 50th Anniversary and Veterans Day, we wanted to do something even more special for Camp Hope. Southwest is donating 50 roundtrip tickets to PTSD Foundation so they can further their mission to bring hope and healing to Combat Veterans and their families suffering from the effects of combat-related PTSD.
Today and every day, we honor all of our U.S. Veterans. Thank you for your service and sacrifice to our country!
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At Southwest Airlines, we believe in living responsibly, respecting our resources, and sharing our Heart with others—and our Repurpose with Purpose initiative is a great example of these beliefs in action. Through this initiative, we partner with like-minded organizations to upcycle, downcycle, and recycle thousands of pounds of our discarded items and materials into useful products that change lives. Since 2016, we have repurposed more than 1.1 million pounds of our aircraft seat covers through this signature program, helping to minimize our environmental footprint while maximizing our social impact.
In 2019, Southwest partnered with Balmex to create 1,500 hand-produced soccer balls made with Southwest leather seat covers. Balmex, led by Mario Ramírez Madora, is located in the Mexico municipality of Chichihualco, which was once the center of production of hand-stitched soccer balls. Balmex has been employing local families to create soccer balls for more than three decades.
Southwest’s soccer ball order provided an economic boost for the community of Chichihualco, Guerrero and the families that Balmex supports. It also provided additional income for the region at a time when the hand-produced soccer ball industry in Chichihualco is especially fragile.
Southwest engaged with three nonprofit organizations in Mexico that could utilize the soccer balls. YMCA Mexico, Save the Children, and Special Olympics Mexico were each granted an allotment of soccer balls for use in their programs that support the development of children and adolescents in Mexico. Throughout 2020 and 2021 the organizations received the soccer balls and the kids were delighted to put them to good use!
Southwest is honored that our Repurpose with Purpose initiative could support Mexico’s rich cultural heritage of artisan-made, hand-sewn soccer balls, while allowing us to upcycle our material in an impactful way – a perfect match! To learn more about Southwest’s Repurpose with Purpose initiative, visit swa.is/Repurposing.
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At Southwest Airlines, our Purpose is to connect People to what’s important in their lives and our partnership with Make-A-Wish® allows us to do just that by providing meaningful travel to Make-A-Wish families. Since our partnership began in 2010, Southwest has donated more than 23,000 Southwest tickets to Make-A-Wish - valued at more than $9 million. Historically, wishes involving travel account for 75% of the wishes that Make-A-Wish grants, and Southwest has helped grant more than 4,000 wishes over the last decade. We’ve helped these deserving families travel all over throughout the past 10 years – creating memorable experiences at places like Disney World, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and Hawaii.
Understandably, travel wishes have been paused for over a year due to the pandemic, contributing to the more than 25,000 eligible children waiting for their wish to come true. Make-A-Wish has continued to grant the life-changing wishes they can because a wish has the power to replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope. Some of the travel wishes have shifted to outdoor playhouses, shopping sprees, a room redecoration, or a puppy!
While Southwest hasn’t been able to connect wish kids and their families to their travel destinations over the last year, we recently had the opportunity to connect a VIP—Very Important Puppy—from Orlando to his forever home in Tennessee with Make-A-Wish Kid Olivia. Southwest not only provided complimentary travel for VIP Finley and his puppy nanny James, but our amazing Employees created special moments all along the way—from gate announcements in Orlando to a spirited welcome upon their arrival in Nashville.
Olivia and her entire second-grade class were able to join in the fun at the gate via FaceTime. Our Employees and Customers wrote congratulations notes to Olivia on Southwest Kindness postcards and they were delivered to Olivia in a branded Southwest pet carrier on her Wish Day. Olivia and her new buddy are forever connected and Southwest will always have a little part in making this furry connection happen!
Thanks to all the Customers and Employees who made this trip an extra special one for Olivia and Finley by putting their Heart in Action! We look forward to welcoming Wish Kids and their families back onboard soon!
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Southwest Employees deliver gifts to residentsWith the holiday season in full swing, Southwest Airlines continues to spread positive cheer and kindness in the community. Employees at our Nashville (BNA) Station recently displayed their Servant’s Heart by “adopting” more than180 residents in an independent living facility who were in need of items in this very challenging year.
Our Employees received an overwhelmingly positive response when they asked the facility if they could adopt their residents this season. Most residents wanted items that would keep them warm during the winter weather such as sweaters, blankets, and other cozy essentials. Other residents simply wanted toiletries and household goods—items many of us may take for granted.
Gifts wrapped and ready for distribution to the residentsTeam BNA created a “wish list tree” that included the name of each resident and their wish items. Any interested Employee had the opportunity to select a recipient and participate. More than 150 Southwest Elves from the Nashville Station went to work crossing things off the list to ensure every resident received their wish this year.
Light up the World with Kindness
With Santa Claus leading the way, the Elves delivered all the gifts to the residents last week (with social/physical distancing and CDC guidance top of mind, of course). In addition to the gifts, Chick-fil-A donated meals for every resident. The room lit up with smiles! Laughter and a few tears of joy were shed as the residents expressed gratitude for making their day special. It was truly a priceless moment!
Chick-fil-A provided warm meals to residents as they arrived to receive their giftsResident DeAnna shared a card that read “The little things you do make a big difference, and I want you to know how grateful I am.” Doing the little things that make a big difference is what Southwest Employees do every day as they serve their Customers. Team BNA, thank you for sparking joy in DeAnna and the other 187 residents.
During this season of giving, we recognize the importance of supporting the communities we serve. We’re grateful that our BNA Employees jumped on this opportunity to ensure every resident felt welcomed, cared for, and appreciated this holiday season! We know many other Southwest Employees across our system are doing the same! Whether in the air or on the ground, we believe community is more than a place—it’s at the Heart of what brings us together.
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Southwest Airlines is proud to support the brave men and women who have served our country. In honor of Veterans Day, this year we teamed up with Help Heal Veterans, a Repurpose with Purpose partner, to distribute therapeutic craft kits to veterans and Customers traveling in November.
At Southwest, we believe in living responsibly, respecting our resources, and sharing our Heart with others—and our Repurpose with Purpose initiative is a great example of how we put those principles into action. Through this initiative, we partner with like-minded organizations to upcycle, downcycle, and recycle thousands of pounds of our discarded items and materials into useful products that change lives.
Since 2016, we have repurposed more than one million pounds of our aircraft seat covers through the program, helping to minimize our environmental footprint while maximizing our social impact. Through this partnership, Help Heal Veterans utilizes the leather from our aircraft seat covers to create craft kits for veterans, allowing them to make items including footballs, belts, wallets, and wristbands. To date, more than 100,000 veterans have received therapy art kits and more than 300,000 pounds of aircraft seat leather has been given a new life.
Founded in 1971, Help Heal Veterans has provided more than 31 million free therapeutic arts and crafts kits to hospitalized and homebound veterans. The kits give veterans a creative outlet and offer important therapeutic and rehabilitation benefits. Help Heal Veterans works with clinicians and veterans to make sure that the kits address veterans’ unique needs, and the kits often become part of formal rehabilitation treatment plans.
Our Heart is to take care of People because we are more than an airline; we are your neighbor. We are honored to partner with Help Heal Veterans and other organizations dedicated to supporting and championing our active and retired military. With respect, honor, and gratitude, Southwest thanks all veterans for their bravery and service on this Veterans Day and every day.
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At Southwest Airlines, we demonstrate our purpose by Loving People, building resilience, and living responsibly to ensure the communities we serve flourish and grow. The !Lánzate!/Take Off! Travel Award Program is a unique program that provides students the opportunity to discover higher education pathways while remaining connected to their families.
Through this national education initiative, Southwest in partnership with Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) helps college students stay connected to their families while pursuing higher education. Since 2004, Southwest has helped more than 1,500 students soar by awarding roundtrip tickets through this travel grants program and we’re excited to support 175 students for the 2020-2021 school year. Without this opportunity to remain connected to their families, many may find it difficult to complete their college career and achieve their goals.
Juan Rios was a 2019 and 2020 ¡Lánzate!/ Award Recipient. Enjoy Juan’s story of how Southwest helped him stay connected to his family even during the coronavirus pandemic.
The following is written by Juan Rios, a 2020 ¡Lánzate!/Take Off! Travel Award recipient:
On April 24, 2019, I was admitted into my dream school, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). After three years of late nights in the library as a community college Juan and his family enjoying some time together.student, it felt like my hard work had finally paid off. But when my acceptance letter came, I was instantly faced with the same problem that caused me to attend a community college in the first place. I was scared to leave my mom and my little sister behind.
As a unit of three, my family formed a close bond where we felt we all worked as a team to overcome the obstacles of life. Whether it was my mom working both a night-shift and a separate day job, or my sister and I working hard in school to show her that we were worth all her hard work, we always felt like we had each other’s backs. To leave them behind felt like I was abandoning them.
A couple of days after the admission, I received an email from HACU and Southwest Airlines to apply to the ¡Lánzate!/Take Off! Travel program and without hesitation I applied. I was excited HACU was partnering with Southwest to offer this opportunity - especially since as a guitar player, I had heard excellent things about Southwest’s care for musical instruments.
This award turned 500 long miles into an hour-and-a-half flight. I instantly felt significantly better about leaving for college. My first year began with exciting news, my research paper that I wrote was accepted for publication at a national conference in November 2019. This was a great opportunity to present in front of industry professionals and highly-esteemed academics. The catch was that the conference was in Orlando, Florida and they did not offer to reimburse travel costs.
The ¡Lánzate! Award allowed me to quickly book a flight and avoid missing an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. Without it, I would not have met professionals that would later open doors for me to develop my professional career even further. In December I was also able to go home for winter break, and in January I still made it to my little sister’s birthday, without feeling a financial consequence of the national conference on my family’s finances.
More seriously, when the pandemic began, the ¡Lánzate! Award allowed me to quickly head home while the pandemic progressed.
Now as a recipient for the second time for the 2020-2021 school year, I continue to be extremely grateful for HACU and Southwest for supporting students throughout difficult times.
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and the perfect time for Southwest Airlines® to help grant a wish for four-year-old Brantley! Along with help from Make-A-Wish® and Macy’s annual Believe letter-writing campaign, we sent Make-A-Wish kid, Brantley, who is battling congenital heart disease, on his way from Dallas to Denver for his wish to build his first snowman!
Grinning through two missing front teeth, Brantley arrived at Southwest Airlines Network Operations Control Center (NOC) where he was welcomed by Southwest, Make-A-Wish, and Macy’s Employees as well as a very special guest direct from the North Pole—SANTA! Walking hand-in-hand, Brantley and Santa listened as Southwest’s Senior Director of Operations Control, Steve West, explained how the NOC is able to track Santa’s sleigh. Brantley’s eyes widened when Steve then showed him where it was snowing throughout the United States!
Donning his elf hat with his sister Blakely and parents by his side, Brantley arrived at the Dallas airport where Santa and his elves Spritz and Sprinkle were waiting to share the marvelous news that Brantley’s wish to build a snowman was coming true. Santa explained to everyone in the gate area that Brantley and his family were shortly going to board a Southwest flight to Denver, where he would be building a snowman.
One of Brantley’s favorite inflight moments came when he helped Macy’s surprise and delight Customers with a little holiday cheer by passing out gift bags, including a $100 Macy’s gift card, to everyone onboard while asking them to write a letter to Santa as part of Macy’s Believe campaign so more wishes could be granted.
Once the plane pulled into the gate, Brantley had more surprises when he walked off the jet bridge, to the sound of violins playing Winter Wonderland and Southwest Employees and Customers cheering for him. And if that wasn’t enough, Brantley received another very warm welcome and lots of presents from local Make-A-Wish and Macy’s Employees in the baggage claim area before he headed off to see the snow and build his snowman.
At Southwest, our Purpose is to connect People to what’s important in their lives. It was such a magical day helping grant Brantley’s wish. He loved each special moment, but you know who loved it even more? Every single person who engaged with Brantley. His positive energy and that big ole smile were contagious! Brantley, thank you for giving us all so much holiday cheer and happiness on your special day!
If you would like to help more wishes for children battling critical illnesses come true this holiday season we invite you to donate your Rapid Rewards Points to Make-A-Wish through Southwest’s Points for a Purpose program at swa.is/pointsdonation. Through our Points for a Purpose program, you can donate points to nine different charities, including Make-A-Wish, and continue making a difference in the lives of those in need.
And, of course, please join the Macy’s Believe campaign and write a letter to Santa. From now until December 24, Macy’s will collect letters in-store or online at macys.com/believe and donate $1, up to $1 million, to Make-A-Wish for each letter collected.
Happy, Happy Holidays from all your friends at Southwest Airlines!
Photos: Associated Press
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“Put in the hours. You’ll mess up a lot, but you’ve got to make mistakes to get better.”—Bobby Bones, “The Bobby Bones Show” Host
Photo by John Schweikert
If laughter is the best medicine, Bobby Bones has cured a multitude of ills. His sense of humor and work ethic have built an impressive résumé as a nationally syndicated morning radio program host, stand-up comedian, and best-selling author. But the chart-topping headline is his philanthropy work. Bobby credits his listeners for helping him create a platform that has raised millions of dollars for numerous charities and causes, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He also credits Southwest with getting him to gigs with friendly service, allowing him to earn a sizable Rapid Rewards points balance, plus A-List Preferred and Companion Pass status. Bobby, thanks for being a fan of Southwest. We’re certainly a fan of yours!
—Ana Schwager, Communications & Outreach
Travel Tips “Just be comfortable: It’s a pajama party for me when I go to the airport.”
The Right Notes “I have a band called The Raging Idiots, and we put out a couple of projects a year. I like doing records for kids. I like to be motivational, but mostly educational without being over-the-top goofy.”
New Beginnings “Get started at whatever level you can. It’s hard to get ahead if you can’t even get into the door.”
Clear Career “I’ve always known what I wanted to do. When I was five, I asked for my first radio.”
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Connecting people to what’s important in their lives! It’s what we do at Southwest. I recently had the pleasure of hosting a delegation for a behind-the-scenes tour and day of learning for the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce’s SoundCheck program at our corporate headquarters. As a sponsor of the Greater Memphis Chamber, Southwest offered this opportunity to support SoundCheck’s purpose of providing these young leaders with access to top business leaders, the opportunity to stay in-the-know, and participate in initiatives that are moving Memphis forward. What better place to provide access to top business leaders and stay in-the-know than Southwest Airlines? With the help of many colleagues in Dallas, we put together a fantastic agenda! With great nonstop service between Memphis and Dallas, we packed a lot into their day trip. As you know, we work hard and play hard at Southwest. That was pretty apparent to our guests when they received their agenda and realized they were going to work hard and play hard during their visit, too. It was a long day for our visitors from Memphis. 18 hours to be exact! But, when everyone was still smiling and talking about the great day they had while boarding their flight back to Memphis, I knew this opportunity made an impact.
Every Southwest Employee is empowered to make a difference with every Customer we encounter. I’m so grateful that I get to represent Southwest in the communities we serve and make a difference with the businesses, civic and nonprofit partners Southwest supports. I’m also grateful that I can always count on my colleagues. This program wouldn’t have been possible without everyone listed on the agenda. Special thanks to each of them! The SoundCheck trip was recently highlighted during the Memphis Chamber Annual Chairman’s Luncheon, the largest business event in the city with more than 1,000 business and community leaders. Here’s what some of our guests had to say:
“Dear Southwest, Thank you so much for hosting us for this fantastic experience for our SoundCheck members! It exceeded expectations and they were already sky high. This was an experience our group will never forget. It provided our Young Professionals information they’ll be able to take back and utilize at their own companies and throughout their careers. Thank you!” – Christina Meek, Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce Director of Communication
“I really can’t thank you enough for the amazing experience you provided us with last week. I have not been able to stop talking about it since we got back. You are an amazing part of an outstanding company!! It was a truly memorable experience. As a young buck who loves the business world, it was incredible to see/learn how Southwest has grown and how, through the growth, you all have kept an amazing culture. Really a commendable feat!"
"Again, thank you sooooooooo much for everything you did in getting us there and then taking care of while we were there. It was truly an experience I will never forget!!” – Caleb Park, Nexttech Solutions
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“Are you the one that saved my life?” eight-year-old Aaron Yniguez asked Southwest Airlines Dallas Customer Service Agent Yolanda Nava upon meeting her for the first time. This meeting, met with a big Texas-sized hug, was something Yolanda had been praying would happen since the spring of 2013, when she donated genetically matched stem cells to Aaron. But it was another connection 15 years ago that started Yolanda’s journey to Aaron.
After joining Southwest, Yolanda started working with a new colleague. Like most relationships at Southwest, colleagues quickly become family. As their relationship strengthened, Yolanda’s friend shared that he had suffered from an unknown blood disorder since birth. Because his mother didn’t have good health insurance, he was unable to receive proper care, causing emotional stress for the whole family. This story touched Yolanda and started her journey to begin donating blood through Carter BloodCare Texas. Ten years ago, during one of her routine donation trips, she signed up to be a bone marrow donor through Be the Match, a national blood marrow donation registry.
Almost six years after signing up with Be The Match, Yolanda received a call asking if she would make a bone marrow donation for a little boy being treated for Acute Myeloid Leukemia. She was a perfect genetic match! Yolanda agreed, and her best friend who inspired her was right by her side on donation day. A few hours later, Yolanda’s harvest was on the way to the hospital where one sick little boy was waiting for his bone marrow transplant.
After three years of wondering if the donation made a difference, Yolanda received the call she had been hoping for since donation day. The City of Hope Hospital invited Yolanda to reunite with Aaron, the now eight-year-old boy who received her bone marrow donation. The reunion would happen on the pitcher’s mound at the City of Hope Celebrity Softball Tournament in Nashville. This event is supported by country music artists and directly benefits City of Hope’s mission to find cures for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases.
On June 7, 2016, as country artists Vince Gill, Trisha Yearwood and hundreds of fanswatched Aaron’s story on the guitar shaped big screen, Yolanda walked to the pitcher’s mound to meet Aaron for the first time.
The reunion was certainly a home run for Team Yniguez and Team Nava. Before they even made their way off the field, the two families were pitching questions to each other:
“Did you know you were donating to a young child?” “Are you an artsy person?” “Are you a Flight Attendant for Southwest?” “Do you have allergies?” “Is Aaron in remission?”
As questions winded down, Aaron gave Yolanda a custom necklace engraved, “Aaron David Yniguez, BMT May 31, 2013.” Aaron’s Mom, Teresa, explained the meaning behind the special charms inside the necklace—Aaron’s birthstone heart, a baseball and angel wings—and ended by thanking Yolanda for making the decision to donate her bone marrow. “You saved our son,” she said as she hugged Yolanda. It was evident that this was the beginning of a beautiful relationship between two families bonded by love and generosity.
Aaron summed it up best as he was walking off the field when he looked up at his dad and said “Daddy, that was pretty amazing!”
It was truly heartwarming learning about Aaron and Yolanda’s story and seeing their reunion happen in the city that I call home.
Maya Angelo said, “Be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” If you would like be a rainbow in someone’s cloud who is suffering from cancer, please visit www.bethematch.org to learn more about becoming a bone marrow donor.
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Beginning October 13, Dallas Love Field is FREE! The restrictions of the Wright Amendment will be gone, ushering in nonstop destinations that span from coast to coast. Southwest has been counting down the years and weeks (literally—we have a billboard at the Love Field entrance and a countdown clock in our Headquarters lobby) until we can say, “Goodbye, Wright Amendment. Hello, America!"
We are excited to begin this new era by serving five new nonstop destinations on October 13, followed by ten additional new nonstop destinations on November 2. The addition of these 15 new nonstop destinations will bring Southwest to a total of 31 nonstop destinations from Love Field.
In anticipation of this momentous event, each week we will take a look at one of the cities that North Texas Customers will be able to soon visit nonstop on Southwest. Each post is written by a Southwest Employee who is affiliated with the city and can give an insider’s view of what to see and do while visiting. Enjoy!
In Nashville, there is a saying: “It all begins with a song.” The lyrics to my Nashville story began ten years ago when my Southwest career landed me in Music City to join the District Marketing Team. My love affair with this city began on day one. It has a certain unique charm, an amazingly creative and collaborative community, a small town feel with all the big city amenities, beautiful rolling hills, and some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. It’s a great place to call home.
In terms of daily departures, Nashville has 82 nonstop flights a day to 31 cities, soon to be 32 cities when the nonstop service to Dallas Love Field begins on November 2! Upon landing at Nashville International Airport, you will immediately know you are in Music City as live music can be heard on any of the four stages throughout the terminal. When visiting Nashville, you'll certainly have your choice from a long list of great places to visit, restaurants to try, and music to listen to during your visit, but below are some of my favorite must-see spots while in town.
Your Nashville to-do list:
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream: If you are a fan of ice cream, you must swing by either the East Nashville or 12 South location of this splendidly scrumptious shop for a scoop or two! Self proclaimed ice cream explorers, Jeni and her team set out 13 years ago to make ice creams that you would fall madly in love with from the first taste. I must say I’ve fallen in love with so many flavors at Jeni’s, but my all-time favorites are Brambleberry Crisp and The Buckeye State. Another bonus for Jeni’s team is the fact that they are super friendly and don’t mind if you ask to sample every flavor on the menu. Now, the long line of folks behind you might mind, but just take your time and savor the taste test of the flavors that tickle your fancy. I think the ice cream smile on Ella Kate, my three year old niece, sums up anyone’s visit to Jeni’s: happy!
Arnold’s: Jack Arnold opened up the Southern Meat & 3 in the early ‘80s after working his entire life in the restaurant industry. Only open for four hours Monday through Friday, Arnold’s serves up delicious Southern dishes, all from scratch. You won’t find better fried chicken, meatloaf, creamed corn, turnip greens, or mac and cheese anywhere! Oh, and make sure to save room for dessert. Pecan pie and banana pudding are my favorites. Simply delish!
Grand Ole Opry: It’s the show that made country music famous, folks! During my ten years in Nashville, I’ve seen new stars, superstars, and legends on the stage of the Opry—no two shows are ever the same. I think that is one of the special things that happens each night at the Opry. Another super cool thing I’ve experienced is backstage at the Opry. From hearing stories about the Opry to seeing the uniquely designed artist dressing rooms to even a seeing a star or two, it all happens backstage. Opry Member Garth Brooks said it best: “No offense to the people sitting in the seats, but the real show is backstage.” If you make it to the Opry, be sure to make a little extra time for the backstage tour!
NashTrash Tour: If you like to laugh, a stop on The Jugg Sisters big pink bus is a must during your visit. This is one-of-a-kind country musical-comedy extravaganza! Hop on at the Farmer’s Market for a spin around the city with Sheri Lynn and Brenda Kay. They’ll dish the dirt on your favorite polyester, double-knit, sequined country music legends. You'll ride past storied institutions like the Ryman Auditorium, have a little stop for souvenirs (and maybe a beverage refill) at the Country Music Hall of Fame, then take a quick spin on legendary Music Row before returning to the Market. Don’t forget to book your reservations because this pink bus fills up fast!
Let Freedom Sing: Independence Day in Music City is spectacular. Enjoy free live music in the heart of the city built on music and when the sun goes down, see some one of the most incredible firework shows in the country.
Neighborhood Shops: From fashion boutiques to records shops, the many diverse neighborhoods have something for everyone. Check out Hatch Show Print in SOBRO (South of Broadway), Two Old Hippies in The Gulch, Savant Vintage and MODA Boutique in 12 South, The Cupcake Collection in Germantown, Hey Rooster General Store and Fanny’s House of Music in East Nashville, and Bookman Bookwoman in Hillsboro Village.
My City Secret:
Music: It’s not really a secret that you can hear all types of music in this city. You name it, we got it! BUT, did you know that Nashville has more than 120 live music venues around town. Just look for the guitar pick-shaped sign stands outside the venue and venture on in for some amazing music!
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This is a guest post from Southwest Customer Pamela McClure, whose simple “ask” of a Southwest Employee made the surprise of a lifetime a reality for her children.
I had spent months planning a surprise trip to Walt Disney World for my family. It would be my kids’ first time to the Magic Kingdom. They were going to freak out when they found out they were missing a few days of school to ride roller coasters (and celebrate, with my business partner’s family, our 15th year of business!). I’d booked a Southwest Vacation package, so the flights, hotel, and meal plan were in the bag. I just needed the perfect, unforgettable, splashy unveiling plan.
I was brainstorming with family over Thanksgiving, about six weeks from the big trip, but the right big idea was eluding us. We wanted something splashy, something to stop traffic. On my flight home I noticed a Southwest ad: If it matters to you, it matters to us. Now I had a big idea. The minute I deplaned in Nashville, I headed to the Southwest ticket counter and told Customer Service Supervisor Sheri Donnelly that I wanted to unveil the surprise right there at the Southwest ticket counter –but I needed her help. It was disruptive and silly, so I crossed my fingers. Sheri was all in! She gave me her cell phone number so we could arrange the details.
The big day finally arrived—could we keep this secret from my kids for a few more hours? My mom and I picked up the kids from school a bit early that Wednesday, since I told them they could go with me to drop their grandmother at the airport. Little did they know that my friend Liz was already dropping off their packed bags, a life-size Mickey Mouse balloon and other goodies at the Southwest ticket counter.
We got to the airport and walked my mom to the Southwest area where Sheri Donnelly had her Team on cue. She routed us to Jenny’s kiosk to check my mom’s bags (to Orlando, secretly!). Then Jenny turned to the kids, “So are you looking forward to your trip?” They were confused. “We’re not going anywhere!” Jenny smiled and asked, “Then why are your bags here?” My three kids were stunned when their bags suddenly appeared (monogrammed, so they were definitely ours!).
Then the Southwest Team brought out the life-size Mickey Mouse and the gift boxes that completed the unveiling. My kids were in shock as they opened boxes bearing Disney T-shirts, and I announced, “We’re all going to Disney World RIGHT NOW!” Southwest Customers applauded, and the Southwest Team topped it all off with inflatable airplane hats for the kids. My friend Liz caught the whole unveiling on video, so we’ve relived the moment many times over the last few weeks!
Sheri and her Southwest cohorts made my day—made my kids’ year—and will forever be in our memories of that spectacular trip! If a company ever delivered on its advertising promise, Southwest Airlines did on that cold January afternoon: What mattered to me, mattered to Southwest!
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It’s no secret around Southwest Airlines that we LUV music! Really though, who doesn’t LUV music?! At Southwest, we feel it’s important to connect with our Customers through common passion points, and we love to surprise and delight our Customers with memorable experiences. We’ve even brought music to the skies with our Live at 35 concert series, where we’ve treated our Customers to intimate acoustic performances at 35,000 feet by some of today’s most diverse artists. With just their guitars in hand (yes, guitars fly free on Southwest), artists such as Gavin Degraw, The Farm, and Parmalee have shared their music with our Customers live from the center aisle of a Boeing 737 LUV jet as it soared across the skies. To see more of these Live at 35 performances, visit www.southwest.com/entertainment.
Do you know what Gavin, The Farm, and Parmalee also have in common? In addition to a love for music, they also have love for a little city called Nashville, a city they call home. A city where they live, work, and play with so many other artists like Sheryl Crow, Kings of Leon, Ben Folds, Jack White, and Keith Urban. These artists call Nashville home because Music City fosters the creative spirit. Nashville has always been a musician’s town. Jimi Hendrix and Peter Frampton were drawn to the city decades ago for the same reason The Black Keys and Carrie Underwood are drawn here today.
Have you ever wondered what makes Music City so special? Well, our partners at the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp have done just that with a behind-the-scenes look at the city built on Music. Who better to tell that story than the musicians who live and breathe the Nashville experience? The documentary, which features more than 30 artists including Eric Church, The Civil Wars, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, The Black Keys, Kris Kristofferson, and Kings of Leon, provides a personal and captivating account of how Nashville has evolved into the world’s Music City.
“You can’t get that many talented people in one area and expect the genres not to grow,” Ben Folds recounts in the documentary. Every day, crazy talented people arrive in Nashville because it is a city where dreams can come true. Eric Church said is best in the film, “If you are passionate about what you do, if you are good enough at what you do, all your dreams can come true in this town.”
For more than 130 years, Nashville has evolved into Music City. If you LUV music as much as I do, “For the Love of Music: The Story of Nashville” is a must see! Watch the trailer and get excited for the premier November 2 at 2 p.m. CT on ABC http://www.visitmusiccity.com/storyofnashville. And then I invite you to hop on a Southwest jet to Nashville to experience for yourself the amazing, diverse music this city has to offer. You won’t be disappointed. I promise!
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For many people, July 4th sparks thoughts of fireworks, cookouts, and red, white, and blue attire. While I’m never one to turn down a fun, patriotic celebration, I think it’s important to remember the history behind the celebration. July 4th is about celebrating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, marking the birth of American independence. Southwest Airlines is proud to support National History Day, an organization dedicated to teaching youth around the world about the importance of knowing our world’s history. This year, I had the privilege of walking the halls of University of Maryland as students were preparing their exhibits for final judging. Two thousand, eight hundred, and seventy-four Students participating in the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day competition competed with exhibits such as Trumans’s Double Victory: Executive Order 9981 Integrates the Military; Jackie Robinson Turns the Tide in Baseball History; and San Antonio’s Great Flood of 1921. More than 600,000 high school students from across the United States and abroad participated in the year-long academic program focused on history research for sixth- through 12th-grade students. Local and state competitions, held earlier this year, decided which students would move on to the final competition in June to showcase their original papers, web sites, documentaries, exhibits, and performances around this year’s topic, Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, and Events. It’s not often that 2,800 students gather in one spot to talk about history—and, talk about history they did! I had the pleasure of meeting many students during my time on the beautiful College Park campus. It was fun and inspiring to see students excited about history, excited to share their project story, and excited to share their Southwest story when they found out I worked for the Company. I heard many stories from students, parents, and teachers who chose Southwest to fly to BWI for the competition, but it was a story from Angela, a sixth grader at Harris Middle School in San Antonio and her teacher, Ms. Griffith, that put a big ol’ smile on my face and again reminded me that I’m so lucky to have landed at a Company that truly values the importance of Customer Service. When they arrived at the ticket counter in San Antonio, they were nervous about the fact they might have to pay additional fees because of the dimensions of Angela’s display. They were pleasantly surprised to learn that the display was under the weight requirements for Southwest’s baggage policy and that it would indeed fly free to Baltimore. I never get tired of hearing Customer tell me how much they appreciate Southwest’s free baggage policy. A fun competition tradition is the button-trading extravaganza. Something that caught my eye, after seeing all the students carrying in their displays, was the clusters of students chatting, showing, and trading their colorful state buttons. Of course, I had to find out the history of this tradition and start engaging with the students to start my own collection. The button-trading tradition began around the mid-1980s. Cathy Gorn, Ph.D., Executive Director of National History Day, said she got the idea from watching the Olympics and seeing the athletes from different countries trading pins. It looked like a good way to get kids to meet one another. I think it’s safe to say that Cathy was right; the kids couldn’t get enough of the button trading! The impact of National History Day goes far beyond the annual contest. A comprehensive study by Rockman et al (a consulting company) found that students who participate in NHD develop a range of college- and career-ready skills and outperform their peers on state standardized tests across all subjects—including science and math. In fact, National History Day was awarded the prestigious 2011 National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony for being “a program that inspires in American students a passion for history. Each year more than half a million children from across the country compete in this event, conducting research and producing websites, papers, performances, and documentaries to tell the human story.” Now, that is something to be proud of, NHD Team! Southwest Airlines is proud to be the Official Airline of National History Day and play a part getting our youth excited about history. This year, as you watch fireworks in the sky, I hope you’ll take a moment to remember the important history behind the holiday! To learn more about National History Day, visit nationalhistoryday.org/.
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One of the things I love about living in Nashville is the gift of being able to listen to live music pretty much any time of the day or night. It’s everywhere. We are, after all, Music City. April 24 was one of those inspiring musical nights that touched my heart and reminded me how great it is to work for a Company that LUVs to give back to the communities it serves. Local Nashville students and some amazing songwriters gathered to explore what they’re truly passionate about - music. Nashville, the city that’s famous for the beautiful melodies it produces, set the stage perfectly for this special evening. Together, the students and songwriters gave an inspiring performance as students told their stories through the art of song. This remarkable show was part of Words & Music, one of the many impactful educational programs hosted by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “It all begins with a song” is a line heard a lot in Nashville. To help these students begin their songs, they start with fantastic teachers who engage them in the process of lyric writing and the wonderfully talented professional songwriting community that works to inspire these students to share their feelings through music. It is a meaningful collaboration that will influence these students for the rest of their lives. Words & Music—a truly unique program—gives students the opportunity to connect with Nashville’s professional songwriting community. Using curriculum developed by the museum, Tennessee teachers taught creative thinking and writing skills to nearly 10,000 students and witnessed nearly 5,000 songs being written by some incredibly talented students.
And talk about creative! As I was reading the song titles and excerpts from the lyrics in the program before the show begin, I knew I was going to be in for a treat. Song titles like Pretzel Pete, I Hate Homework, Barn Rat and Leaving London immediately peaked my curiosity. Every single performance sparked a different emotion for not only me, but the audience of parents, teachers and museum staff.
Gracie Fleser, Addy, Mitchell, and Kaitlyn Sneed—Songwriter Tammy Vice
Oh I may be just a girl, but I can take on this big world. Just stick around and you will see, The dream light in me.
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It was a typical Monday in the office—emails, conference calls, reports—until I answered the phone and learned about Maddie’s story. On the other end of the line, Oklahoma Center Support Leader Leslie Harris shared the story of a little girl, Maddison “Maddie” Murphy, a young singer/songwriter who dreamed of going to Nashville, guitar in tow, to share her music on the same streets where so many others have told their story through the art of songwriting. A 5 th grade student from Pioneer Elementary School in Noble, Oklahoma, Maddie was born with a heart and lung defect. Because of her condition, normal activities such as playing with her friends or even going to school are very difficult for her fragile body to handle. Maddie’s guitar and her love for songwriting have been her constant companions through many hospital and doctor visits. It is that passion and her love for country music that inspired her dream to visit Nashville. In order to help Maddie realize her dream, high school students at Noble High School announced that she would be the recipient of the funds raised during their annual “SHOUT Week”. SHOUT Week began at Noble High School in 2010 as a way to unite the school and the Community by teaching students one of life's most valuable lessons… it is better to give than to receive. They were going to help Maddie get to Nashville! Knowing I live in Nashville, Leslie asked for help on our end to make Maddie’s arrival in Nashville special. An email was sent to two of Southwest’s finest—Mandie Thomas and Bonnie Brown—the Dynamic Administrative Team. These girls know how to make things happen! And, happen it did. Upon deplaning at C19, Maddie, her Family and of course, her guitar (that flew for free) were greeted with the smiling faces of Mandie and Bonnie along with a fun “Welcome to Music City”, a hot pink Nashville t-shirt, and Southwest backpack filled with all kinds of goodies. Just looking at the pictures makes me smile—I just might ask Mandie and Bonnie to greet me someday upon my arriving in Nashville too! Of course, a stop by gate C9—the Grand Ole Opry branded gate—was a fun photo stop for Maddie. I’m sure a visit to the show that made country music famous was on her list of things to do while in town. Of course, our folks in OKC made her departure just as special as the arrival. Team OKC greeted Maddie with balloons—almost as bright as her smile—and even set up a performance area in the gate area for Maddie to perform for our Customers waiting on Flight #663. There was even an old cowboy hat that was thrown down in front of Maddie, just like they do it in Nashville, and she got a few tips….or as she calls it, a little spending money for her trip. Although I don’t work on the front line, it sure was fun being a small part of making Maddie’s experience on Southwest Airlines super special. I’m glad I was in the office to answer that call Monday! Maddie, I hope you had a fabulous time in Music City. Take that spirit and beautiful smile to the streets of Nashville and sing your heart out! Southwest will always be here to take you (and your guitar) back to Nashville, and home to Oklahoma!
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Amelia Earhart once said, “Adventure is worthwhile in itself." What an adventure I experienced when I attended the National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) Enshrinement Weekend in Dayton, OH. The first step of this journey landed me right in the middle of the Wings of Women (WOW) Conference, sponsored by the National Aviation Hall of Fame. Celebrating its fifth anniversary, WOW gives young women from Ohio, grades 9 through 12, the opportunity to learn and be inspired from Women Aviators around the world, and helps them develop their personal flight plan toward future goals. It was at breakfast when I met my new friends for the day—Samia, Callie, Abby, and Courtney. What fun I had listening to their conversation and excitement from the things they learned the day before. The girls traveled to the Wright Brothers Aviation Center and listened to Aviation Ambassador Amanda Wright Lane (great grand-niece of Orville and Wilber Wright) share the story of her famous family’s contribution to aviation history. They also took a bus ride through Huffman Prairie Flying Field, an 84-acre patch of rough pasture where the Wright brothers undertook the arduous task of creating a dependable, fully controllable airplane and training themselves to be pilots. As the girls were thumbing through their course book figuring out which Women Aviators they still needed autographs from, they each shared with me their story of how they ended up at WOW. And, I must say that I learned more than I ever thought I would know about Justin Bieber. Oh, to be a teenage girl again! These fun, smart girls would end up being my sidekicks as our day of learning continued with the story of Harriet Quimby, the first licensed female pilot in the United States on August 1, 1911. I was just as engaged as the girls when character-actor, NAFH Board Member, and Women Aviator Mentor, Connie Tobias, brought Harriet’s story to life as we sat beneath the infamous Bleriot monoplane—as the story goes….Harriet was flying in an air meet near Boston on July 1, 1912, she took a passenger (and organizer of the meet-up) on a flight. Although Harriet warned the very large man not to make any sudden movements while in the air, the aircraft somehow went into a dive. Neither the man nor Harriet was wearing a safety belt and both were thrown from the plane to their deaths. The monoplane came out of its dive and landed with minimal damage—in fact, it looked pretty good as it hung above us as the story was told. After learning Harriet’s story, the girls and I toured some of the aircraft flown by Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs) and Tuskegee Airman, and then listened as five WASP Pilots (Francis Winter Brookings, Nadine Canfield Nagel, Betty Blake, Marty Wyall and Dawn Seymour) and three Tuskegee Airman (Colonel Charles McGee, Robert Peeples and Lt. Col Charles I. Williams) shared stories about their experience being part of the select group of young Women and African American Pilots to serve our country in World War II. They also shared some final words of wisdom for the girls: 1. Follow an adventurous spirit.
2. Live life with gusto.
3. Always have confidence and you can achieve anything.
4. When you have a goal, stay on track until you achieve it. As a sponsor of the National Aviation Hall of Fame, Southwest provided tickets to fly in some of these aviation legends for WOW and Enshrinement Weekend. It was during our morning break that I met one of these aviation pioneers—Betty Blake, who at age 14—in 1935—learned to fly. It was that same year that Betty attended a speaking engagement presented by Amelia Earhart at the University of Hawaii that encouraged Blake to fly. A mentor to Betty that day, Earhart took notice of the eager girl sitting in a front row seat and offered up a tour of her plane the next morning before she took off and flew solo to Oakland, California. That’s all it took for Betty to be hooked! One year later—at only 15—Betty earned her commercial pilot’s license. She began flying “hops,” taking tourists and business people from one Hawaiian island to another. Six years later, on December 7, 1941, she was scheduled to pilot one of these flights, but her passenger cancelled the reservation. A fortunate coincidence: It meant Betty wasn’t in the skies when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Fast forward 70 years, and Betty shared that story with a group of girls who were in awe of such a tale. Having researched Betty’s story as I knew she was one of the mentors attending WOW, you can understand how excited I was to meet this aviation pioneer who averaged three transports a week during WWII, when factories were churning out about 45 aircraft per day. It turned out that Betty and her traveling companion, Roxanne, were just as excited to meet me when they learned I worked for Southwest. I no more had finished my introduction before they both began sharing their special experience on Southwest Flight #1315 from Phoenix to Columbus. Roxanne explained when she accompanies Betty on trips, she gives a small card with Betty’s story to the gate agent, just in case they might be interested to know her history. She is, after all, a living legend! What happened after she handed the card to the Southwest Customer Service Agent in Phoenix is one of the greatest things about this Company—the wonderful treatment our Employees show our Customers! The Customer Service Agent immediately shared the card with the Captain who immediately came up to the boarding area and whisked Betty in her wheelchair down the jetway. The entire Crew welcomed Betty, helped her into the cockpit for a photo and then on to their seats in the front row, 1A and 1B. General boarding continued and as soon as all the passengers boarded, Captain Bob stood in the front of the plane, picked up the microphone and shared Betty’s story with everyone onboard. As you can imagine, applause filled the cabin and that was the beginning of a flight that Betty and Roxanne will never forget. Roxanne continued on and on about how amazing the Las Vegas-based Flight Attendants, Rhonda, Jerry, and Teresa were to them during the entire flight. “They took care of us like we belonged to them,” Roxanne said. “Betty and I have traveled on many airlines over the past years and we have never received this kind of treatment.” Again, this was one of those special moments that remind me of the wonderful People who work for this Company! Having already met Betty and Roxanne, I was super excited that she would also join the Southwest table that evening at the National Aviation Hall of Fame President’s Dinner along with Columbus-based Southwest Employees Beth, Matt, Lateea, and David. Over 650, including top Government, Aerospace and Defense Industry Ofﬁcials, and Enshrinees gathered in the Modern Flight Gallery of the National Museum of the United States Air Force for the admittedly less formal evening that can trace its roots back to the early years of the NAHF, when Jackie Cochran would welcome her fellow Enshrinees and participants to her hotel suite after the ceremony to share a laugh and swap hangar stories. Although the venue had grown from that hotel suite in the early days, something told me the stories and laughs were the same as those early days. Our table was sure full of some stories from not only Betty and Roxanne, but the oldest living Tuskegee Airman Col. C.I. Williams and Aviation Photographer and Smithsonian Lecturer Dan Patterson. It was a special evening that I won’t ever forget! As the evening continued, several awards were announced. The US Navy Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Team received the NAHF’s Milton Caniff “Spirit of Flight” Award in recognition of the group’s 65-year history of serving as a positive role models and goodwill ambassadors for the US Navy and Marine Corps and the A. Scott Crossﬁeld Aerospace Educator of the Year Award was presented to Sheila Condino, a physics teacher at Presidio High School in Presidio, Texas. Using aerospace as a means to teach advanced physics to her students, Condino provides a hands-on approach to learning. Despite the challenge of being located in one of the most remote regions of the continental United States (the closest Wal-Mart is 250 miles away in El Paso), her students have consistently overcome geographic, financial, and logistical obstacles to compete among the nation’s brightest students at the Team America Rocketry Challenge. You could feel the passion in her voice as she spoke about her students and her love for teaching them to work hard and have dreams. “I feel very honored and blessed to receive this award,” Sheila said. “Presido doesn’t have much—one grocery store and one Subway—but we have gems, our students.” Earlier during the day, I had the opportunity to spend time with Sheila, and from our short time together, I know one other thing Presido is lucky to have—a special gem of a teacher named Sheila Condino. The final event of the evening included a panel discussion honoring the Centennial of Naval Aviation. Actor, Producer, and Television Host David Hartman moderated the discussion that included stories from RADM Edward L. “Whitney” Feightner, USN (Ret), RADM George M. “Skip” Furlong, Jr., USN (Ret), CAPT Robert “Hoot” Gibson, USN (Ret), CAPT Kenneth Wallace, USN (Ret), RADM Patrick McGrath, Deputy Commander Naval Air Forces and National Aviation Hall of Fame Historian Hill Goodspeed. Again, some amazing aviation stories from some inspiring aviators. And, I was so excited when I got my picture with Hoot Gibson and learned this Astronaut also flew those red, orange, and blue Southwest 737’s around the system before retiring a few years ago! It had certainly been a long, but rewarding day at the National Aviation Hall of Fame. What a wonderful organization that honors aviation pioneers for their service to country, their ingenuity, their courage and their vision. The stories of our NAHF Enshrinees are stories of America…of challenge and failure, of determination and triumph. One final highlight was when I spotted Southwest Founder Herb Kelleher’s photo on the Enshrinee Wall. I must say I’m pretty excited he founded this Company that I have been fortunate to call mine for the past 16 years! It’s hard to sum up this wonderful experience, so I’ll quote another friend, Mia, who I met at WOW when asked her what she liked best about her experience: “Everything, just everything!”
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The giving season was in full swing as Little Rock-based Our House celebrated its 5 th Annual Tie One On event. Over 400 Business and Community Leaders gathered for an evening of food, music, and bidding on the many fabulous aprons designed by local Arkansas artists. This event was designed to raise money for Our House, a non-profit organization that provides the working homeless–individuals and families–with shelter, housing, job training, education, free childcare, and summer youth programs, in order to equip them with the skills to be successful in the workforce, the community, and their own families. Southwest Airlines, the Official Airline of Our House, brought some added excitement to the live auction portion of the evening when three travel packages along with the Freedom to Travel Apron, designed by Little Rock Customer Service Agent Jan Young, went on the auction block. The first travel package containing two roundtrip tickets anywhere on Southwest coupled with the Southwest apron quickly escalated in price—$300 jumped to $800 and then $1,400 until Auctioneer Jay Scott yelled “sold” to final bidder of $1,750, Anne. As the proud new owner of a fabulous travel apron and two roundtrip tickets, Anne quickly donned her new travel apron for everyone to see. In meeting Anne and her husband after the auction closed, it was great to hear what big Southwest fans they already were. They even shared the fact that they both enjoy using their Southwest Airlines Visa card and love even more the points they earn by using the card. If we only had that TLC camera crew with us when we met the FUN couple! Prior to the live auction, I was able to do one of the best things about my job—give away free tickets! It’s always so much fun to see the excitement in the winners' faces. As a thank you to everyone who purchased a ticket to Tie One On, we decided to put each name in a bowl and draw one winner to take a trip on Southwest ... just as a thank you for supporting Our House. It was certainly attendee Paul's lucky night when he heard his name announced. He was right up front and if he had an aisle to run down, it would have been a true Price is Right moment. As we got to know Paul and his fiancée, Jennifer, we learned their wedding is planned for June 2012. I’m sure those roundtrip tickets will come in handy next year ... maybe even help with a honeymoon? What a special evening of celebrating not only local Arkansas Artists and the Spirit of Giving, but the wonderful work of Our House. Southwest was thrilled to be part of such a wonderful event! Thanks to the entire Our House Team, Event Committee, Volunteers, and Southwest Airlines Family in Little Rock who helped make the evening one to remember. To learn more about Our House, visit www.ourhouseshelter.org.
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