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 residents With 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 residents Team 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 gifts Resident 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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“Always give back—find a way to help others” are the simple yet powerful words that Denver Nuggets Coach George Karl has always remembered since first hearing them from his former University of North Carolina Basketball Coach Dean Smith in the early ‘70s. Yes, Coach Karl has 1,036 wins and 75 career playoff series under his belt, but just as important as these wins are the “give back” wins to the numerous organizations close to his heart.
One of the organizations that Coach Karl has supported for the past ten years is the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, School of Continuing Education, College for Kids program. Just over 30 years ago, College for Kids (CFK) was created to not only occupy summers off for children, but to offer programs that encourage high academic potential, motivation, and talent. Engaging students at an early age and promoting advanced education in college, this fantastic program offers more than 150 courses in five different program areas, reaching children of all income brackets and educational backgrounds serving over 2,000 students annually. In planning to not only celebrate 30 years, but also raise additional funds to send more economically challenged youth through their program, the College For Kids Team announced their first ever “game plan” for a fundraising event they coined, “Celebrating 30 Years of Successful Kids.” It didn’t take them long to secure their MVP and event hosts for the evening: Coach Karl and his girlfriend, Kim Van Deraa. Both have continued to be big supporters of CFK even since Karl moved to Denver in 2005. In addition to committing their time to host the event, they also donated some pretty cool once-in-a-lifetime experience items for attendees to bid on—The Ultimate NBA Experience provided the opportunity to travel with the Denver Nuggets (on the team’s private plane) to a game, a motivational speech with Karl, golf with Karl, and a Qdoba Backyard Blast party with Karl. I must say that was a great example of “giving back”!
It was during the second period of the event that the fans of College for Kids had the opportunity to hear remarks from College For Kids SMILE (Sponsorship Money Investing in Lifelong Education) Scholarship Recipient Awmorreunce “Mo” Broadway. With a smile that could light a room, Mo spoke of his positive experience during his time at College for Kids. Awarded the Outstanding Scholarship Student, Mo said CFK built his character, taught him to respect others as well as himself, and helped set him on a path to attend either the University Wisconsin Madison or Columbia. He thanked all the wonderful teachers who mentored him during his five years at CFK saying, “Everyone has a special place in my heart.”
In the third and fourth periods, we heard from Former College For Kids Faculty Advisor Dr. Cyrus “Rus” Smith who shared some great memories of student learning in his 25 years at the school. Then, Coach Karl put his auctioneer skills to use when the only live auction item for the evening was announced—a trip for four from Milwaukee to Denver on Southwest Airlines (maybe on the new nonstop that begins September 6), two nights at the JW Marriott in Cherry Creek, and amazing seats at a Nuggets game.
After the excitement of the final bid for the trip (around $2,000), Coach Karl continued his remarks about the importance of educating our children from an early age. One story he shared was a fun educational exercise he had the opportunity to see during a visit to another nonprofit he supports. Friends of Hoop works with children to teach them about the increase in monetary gain as one achieves different educational levels. One hundred dollar bills are used to show how much someone with a high school education will earn per week. And then, the same (but more) one hundred dollars bills are laid out to show how much someone with a college degree, masters, etc. will make. Kids seem to really “get it” when they had the opportunity to see this example—it got them thinking about education! And, that’s what it is all about—making education exciting for our children so they will be motivated to continue striving to learn more.
Finally, no exciting game is complete without overtime! I had the opportunity to emcee the “Heads or Tails” raffle—it was a fun way to end the evening, award someone two roundtrip tickets anywhere Southwest flies, and raise more scholarship money that will send more students to College for Kids. Congratulations to College for Kids on 30 years of educating children in Milwaukee! As we heard with Mo’s remarks, you really do make a difference in the lives of our children. Southwest Airlines was excited to be part of this special evening in Milwaukee! Here’s to many more successful years! I’ll close with those simple yet powerful words by which Coach Karl has lived—“Always give back—find a way to help others.” Such good words to live by!
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Tyreia, Tracey, and Monica are three inspiring young women who have overcome so much tragedy and instability in their short lives. They were brave enough to share their unimaginable stories at the Celebrating Women Event on a beautiful evening on the Dearborn Heights, Michigan campus of Vista Maria. Born to a mother who didn’t want a child, a pistol held to her head at three, thirteen foster homes by nine, sexually abused at eleven, a best friend who committed suicide at twelve, and in and out of school at fifteen are just a few of the heartbreaking details they shared. For over 128 years, Vista Maria has restored hope for girls who once believed they would never be able to overcome their painful pasts or achieve their dreams. Today, Vista Maria’s Village of Hope is changing girls’ lives by offering the ongoing education, support, and services they need to ensure bright and successful futures. Over 350 business, community, and political leaders gathered for the 12th Annual Celebrating Women Event, an evening that recognizes the achievements of three outstanding women role models, as well as three exceptional young ladies (Tyreia, Tracey, and Monica) who have overcome immense obstacles and are excelling in their academic studies and treatment. The evening also serves as one of two major fundraisers for Vista Maria. As the Official Airline of Vista Maria, Southwest supported the event by providing roundtrip tickets that were packaged with fabulous resort stays in Phoenix, Orlando, and Denver—the $128,000 raised will be used to provide girls at Vista Maria (nearly 1,000 yearly) the unique programs that are vital to their healing and future successes. Vista launched the five-year initiative, “Village of Hope,” with the goal of implementing a full array of services and programs. Those include schooling and job training, supplemented by child care that enables the agency’s clients to take advantage of those offerings, behavioral health services including substance abuse therapy, and schools that meet the needs of learning disabled students. Currently $382,000 short of achieving their fundraising goal to meet a $500,000 challenge grant from the Kresge Foundation, Vista continues to work towards educating the community on the importance of their work and raising money which will complete the Village of Hope Initiative. It was evident at the end of each speech given by Tyreia, Tracey, and Monica how much Vista Maria has helped them overcome their challenges and they each now have a bright future that includes a stable home, college, and better relationships with their family. Another special moment during the evening came when a birthday cake was delivered to Tyreia. Seeing those candles burning while everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to this young lady who probably had many birthdays in which she didn’t have much to celebrate, was so heartwarming. Tyreia had come so far and had many things to smile about this evening of her eighteen birthday—a true testament to the great work of the Vista Maria Team. Thank you to the entire Vista Maria Team for making a difference in the lives of these young girls. For more information on Vista Maria, please visit www.vistamaria.org.
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In my travels to Charleston over the past few months, I’ve learned about the many wonderful things The Holy City has to offer—amazing history, fabulous shopping, beautiful beaches, world-class golf courses, and a thriving restaurant scene with some of the best Chefs in the southeast. In fact, many of them have received the prestigious James Beard Foundation's award for Best Chef Southeast. Yes, they are famous for their award-winning dishes that are the talk of locals and visitors alike, but they are also known for giving back to the community that has been so good to them. On a beautiful summer night in June, ten of Charleston’s Top Chefs donated their time, talents and some of their best recipes to Big Chef Little Chef, an event that benefits Louie’s Kids. Louie’s Kids is an organization that raises funds to help treat childhood obesity, which afflicts 25 million American children today.
In memory of his father, Louis Yuhasz founded Louie’s Kids in 2001. This outstanding organization is dedicated to fighting childhood obesity through behavioral change, education, and physical activity. The program caters to economically disadvantaged children and has helped make lasting, positive changes throughout the Lowcountry.
It was just three years ago that Louis wanted to create an event that paired the Chefs in town with Louie’s Kids participants for a one-of-a-kind type of event that would raise awareness and funds for Louie’s Kids. And presto—Big Chef Little Chef was born. Back in 2008, Louis stirred up from scratch his best recipe yet. Over the last few years, this unique creation has been passed around and has become the perfect dish for Charlestonians to enjoy—
-pair one professional Chef together with one Little Chef, a Louie’s Kids program participant
-mix in a little one-on-one culinary training with a focus on healthy cooking
-simmer until the perfect recipe has been concocted
-whisk in some fabulous community sponsors
-add a beautiful sunset evening at the historic Lowndes Grove Plantation on the Ashley River
-blend some live music by Sons of Summer
Infuse all these together for an inspiring evening of healthy cooking, community, and raising funds that will help Louie’s Kids Team help Charleston’s youth improve their health. With their recipes in hand and a combined weight loss of 250 pounds achieved as a result of participation in either Louie’s Kids Fit Club or Run Buddies program, these Little Chefs couldn’t wait to put their new found nutritional knowledge to use. They teamed up with their Big Chefs to create the perfect healthy dish that would delight the palate of the foodies who would vote for the ultimate winner of the coveted Louie’s Kids Cutting Board prize and of course, bragging rights! Any Chef will tell you that prep time is a very important part of the cooking process. That is why the Little Chefs each spent several “days in the kitchen” with the Big Chefs to learn about everything one would need to know to create that scrumptious healthy dish. To spread awareness of the event, a few of the Big Chef Little Chef Teams even represented Louie’s Kids with appearances on local television stations for a practice run of preparing their dish. What an amazing experience for these kids, mostly from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, to have the opportunity to learn from some of the best Chefs in town! Through their culinary mentor, the dishes of these Little Chefs didn’t disappoint as Louie’s Kids supporters visited the tables for a taste (or maybe two) of each culinary creation. Just a few of the delicious items on the menu were Vegetarian Lasagna, Orange Chili Glazed Shrimp with Local Butterbean, Corn, Broccoli Rab Succotash, A Party in your Mouth (Watermelon, Arugula, Calamari in a vinaigrette), Avocado Chocolate Pudding and Chilled Local Summer Vegetable Minestrone. I must admit—I wish I could have voted for more than one! Although I was a little reluctant to try the Avocado Chocolate Pudding because I don’t like Avocado, I couldn’t say no to Little Chef Chelsea as she “sold” me on the fabulous dish. Not only had she honed her culinary skills, she had honed her “selling” skills as well (although, I suspect she might have had those skills for most of her life as she exuded personality to everyone that she talked to this evening). Low and behold, not only did I like it, I loved it and returned for a second serving. It was, after all, a very healthy and small portion. As we learned at the end of the evening, I wasn’t the only person who liked Chef Michelle and Chef Chelsea’s Chocolate Avocado Pudding best—they were named Big Chef Little Chef 2011 and presented with the Louie’s Kids Cutting Board! As the virtual kitchens were closing and the clean up began, the beautiful evening on the Ashley River ended with event funds being raised to support the programs that are helping Charleston’s youth get healthy. During a recent visit to Charleston, I had the opportunity to meet several kids from Jerry Zucker Middle School who had completed Fit Club, a custom tailored program that incorporates ongoing support in an after-school environment to fight childhood obesity. The 16 week plan includes nutritional education; a daily regimen of physical activity; family engagement; weekly group therapy sessions with a contracted clinician; and meetings at the school for encouragement and support for approximately six hours per week. It was so inspiring to hear them talk about their plans to “stay on course” during the summer months—all because of what they had gained and lost (a lot a weight) through their experience with Louie’s Kids. As the Official Airline of Louie’s Kids, Southwest Airlines is proud to support an organization that is passionate about helping the youth of Charleston fight obesity, one child at a time. Thank you to all the wonderful Charleston Chefs who volunteered their time to support this event—Michelle Weaver from Charleston Grill, Ken Vedrinski of Lucca, Marc Collins from Circa 1886, Cary Zapatka from Square Onion, Craig Deihl from Cypress, John Zucker of Cru Café, Sean Brock of Husk, Ben Berryhill from Red Drum, John Ondo from Lana and Nico Rome of FISH. Finally, Congrats to all the Little Chefs for inspiring us to live a healthy life. The combined weight loss you have achieved is truly inspiring to everyone who had the opportunity to meet you at Big Chef Little Chef. To Big Chef Michelle and Little Chef Chelsea—enjoy that cutting board! Use it to cut up those local homegrown vegetables from the Lowcountry. And because Chef Michelle and Chef Chelsea shared their recipe with me, I’m going to share it with you. It’s so easy that I think even I can make it! Enjoy! To learn more about Louie’s Kids, visit www.louieskids.org. Chocolate Avocado Pudding
4 avocados—no seed, no skin 1 ¼ cup agave nectar 1 ½ tablespoons vanilla extract 1 cup dark cocoa powder 1 teaspoon soy sauce 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Place everything into a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Chill for 2 hours and serve with fresh berries.
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People! It’s the People who make this such a wonderful Company. I’d like to introduce you to two of my new favorite People—Phoenix based Flight Attendants Jaycee and Terry. It was Saturday, April 2 when I knew my birthday/vacation week was off to a great start when I was able to secure the one coveted 4 th Jumpseat (the seat for only Employees in the back with the Flight Attendant that you hope to get when the flight is full) on Flight 1181 from Nashville to Phoenix. Whew—my week of serious spa action in Scottsdale was a short 3 ½ hours away! As I headed to my special seat in the back (yes, the seat right by the lavatory), I was welcomed first by Flight Attendant, Kevin, and then in the middle of the cabin by Terry who told me who to look for (Jaycee) once I made my way to the back. Jaycee was so warm and inviting—making sure I had space for my purse in the area where he stored his stuff, offering me some water and just chatting it up about my job. About 15 minutes had gone by and all 137 Customers were cozied up in their seats and ready to experience that famous Southwest hospitality. Forward and aft doors secured—check. Safety announcements—complete. Flight Attendants buckled up—done! Before we had even lifted off the ground, Jaycee and I were right back into our conversation—a little bit of this and little bit of that….just good talking! And then, about 45 minutes into the flight, just as Jaycee had finished his drink orders, he received a call from the front that we had a medical emergency onboard. In my sixteen years of working and flying on Southwest, I had never experienced a medical emergency. I was so impressed with the entire Flight Crew and their ability to handle this medical emergency—it was amazing to see them in action. It was decided to divert the flight to Little Rock so the Customer could receive the proper medical attention. During that time on the ground in Little Rock, I had the chance to share a bit of my Southwest Spirit with the Customers onboard by passing out snacks, water and answering questions such as “Do you think I could step out the back of the plane and smoke a cigarette?”. Yes, I did know the answer to that one! A short time later, we were back in the air and on our way to Phoenix. After the seat belt sign turned off, I was back to passing out snacks, picking up trash and answering more questions. Passing through the cabin, one Customer questioned, “Are you supposed to be working today?” I loved it! It had certainly been one of my more memorable flights for many reasons, but the standout reason was that I felt as if I had made two new Southwest Friends. Upon final approach, Terry offered to give me a ride to my hotel as he was on his final day of work and lived close to where I was going. Knowing he was probably ready to get home, I responded with reluctance but he insisted! And, not only did he take me to my hotel, but he stopped by the store so that I could pick up some snacks and drinks. So nice! Terry helped me with my luggage, we hugged and I was finally off to start my week of relaxation. My birthday was the following day, April 3rd. As I'm in my hotel room on my birthday, (this is the one that takes the cake!), I hear a knock at my door! Delivered to my door was a dessert tray of chocolate covered strawberries and caramel popcorn with a note that read “Happy Birthday—Jaycee and Terry”. To say I was shocked was an understatement! I couldn’t believe it—these two Flight Attendants that I just met by chance had completely gone “above and beyond” and made my birthday so special. I will never forget this birthday because of Jaycee and Terry—just two of the wonderful People that make this a great Company and Family! Jaycee and Terry—it was wonderful to meet you both! Thank you for sharing your Southwest Spirit to your External and Internal Customers—I’m sure your kindness over the years has touched so many hearts! P.S. I’ve never been so happy to actually sit on the 4 th Jumpseat…especially on a 3 ½ hour flight!
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It was 25 years ago today that the first Southwest Airlines jet took off from Nashville. I wasn’t around on that first day back in March 1986, but I bet in addition to boarding some fabulous Customers, we also flew one or two guitars on that day—it is, after all, Music City.
A lot has happened in the last 25 years—we’ve gone from eight daily departures to two nonstop cities to over 80 daily departures to 29 nonstop cities with additional direct or connecting service to 41 cities, 40 Employees to 276 Employees and achieving the number one carrier spot at Nashville International. But one thing hasn’t changed—our LUV for everyone that has chosen to fly Southwest Airlines out of Nashville over the past 25 years.
Although we have (and love them all) a lot of Customers from Nashville’s diverse economy (healthcare, publishing , automotive, finance, tourism), music is what makes Nashville most famous—home to over 80 record labels, 130 music publishers, 180 recording studios, 5,000+ union musicians, and 124 music venues. As penned by songwriters Rodney Clawson and Brett Jones about Nashville in Crazy Town “…It’s a crazy town, full of neon dreams. Everybody plays, everybody sings.” It’s true—you can’t go anywhere in this town without running into a songwriter, the beautiful storytellers behind the songs we love. I remember one flight in which a singer-songwriter wrote a song on a Southwest Airlines drink pad book—not sure if it ever made it to radio, but it sure was cool to see this happen on the two-hour flight that departed Nashville. I would love to know how many songs were written on a Southwest jet over the past 25 years?!
There are so many talented folks in the music industry who call Nashville home and we’ve enjoyed flying them all over the country in the past two and a half decades. And, the other thing we enjoyed flying is their precious cargo, the instruments that are part of their soul. There isn’t a day you won’t see a guitar thrown over a shoulder walking into Nashville International Airport. Over the years, I’ve had so many musicians share their love for Southwest—the way we allow them to carry their guitars on the plane—of course, for free!
To celebrate the big Two-Five, we rocked out a party for our Customers in the Southwest gate area yesterday—complete with SOUTHWEST SPIRIT, FUN, and of course, music! In fact, our very own Nashville Ramp Agent, Zach Kerber, and bandmate, Charles Lackey, strummed some bluegrass tunes for our Customers while our Culture Committee Team served muffins and of course, that delicious LIFT coffee. Employees and Customers alike both enjoyed free chair massages during their break or while waiting on their flight. I think there were plenty of relaxed folks flying out of Nashville yesterday. Three of our four original Nashville Employees were also presented with “Original Employee” Awards as a thank you from the Company.
One of my favorite groups that calls Nashville home, Lady Antebellum, has been on an amazing ride over the past few years—in less than three years the trio has racked up a lot fans (including 3.8 million facebook fans), several awards ... you name it, they’ve won it: Grammy, CMA, ACM, and CMT. The other thing they have racked up in the last few years—Southwest Airlines Rapid Reward points! In fact, they were even featured as our Spirit magazine Freedom Story in July, 2009. And, they even tweeted from a Southwest flight: “On Southwest Airlines you get the choice of open seating. We choose each other” We love the fact that so many of Nashville’s Music Industry choose to fly Southwest—that’s just cool!
Nashville, thanks for allowing us to be your hometown carrier—and, if you missed our party at the airport yesterday, we thought we’d throw one more, since we think 25 years is a pretty big deal! Join us next Friday, March 25, from noon to 1:00 pm on the plaza of Bridgestone Arena for one more party to celebrate our 25 th Anniversary. And, to all those fans who have always wanted to visit Nashville, be on the lookout for a fabulous contest that any music lover would be amped to win!
From the entire Southwest Team in Nashville, thank you for a great 25 years. You are the beautiful lyrics to our song, Nashville.
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After a lot of planning, hard work, and FUN we are finally ready to bring Southwest to Charleston, South Carolina! We’ve got some great activities lined up to celebrate this new relationship and we can’t wait to show the Lowcountry some LUV this weekend.
In fact, we started the celebration last night with about 350 Community Leaders who gathered at the Francis Marion Hotel for the Charleston County School District’s “An Evening with the Stars” Winter Gala. In collaboration with the Coastal Community Foundation, Southwest supported this night of celebration that included a gourmet dinner, music by The Joe Clark Big Band, Carolina Swag dancing (the official state dance of South Carolina), as well as a live auction complete with a special Southwest Airlines Vacation Package and trips to Nashville and San Diego that were awarded to the highest bidder. In fact, Brennen Daughtery and Michael Melton won both silent and live auction packages—a trip for two to San Diego including a hotel stay at the US Grant and two more roundtrip Southwest tickets that they were excited to use for a future vacation. In recognition of the Charleston County School District’s quality educators, the gala proceeds will also allow for professional development by funding a Teacher Quality Symposium, aimed at improving student achievement and teacher effectiveness via coaching and job training. One teacher from each school in the district was recognized for his or her outstanding work and awarded a little gold statue while the crowd applauded their accomplishments. In honor of all teachers in attendance, we surprised one lucky teacher, Caley Jones, and announced that she was the grand prize winner--from a random drawing of all teachers in attendance—of two roundtrip tickets on Southwest Airlines. It was a wonderful night to celebrate and thank the “STARS” of the evening— Charleston County School District Teachers!
This photo and the one above courtesy Jennifer Bearden
Tonight the celebration continues with a party at Southend Brewery for all 40 new Southwest Airlines Charleston Employees. Everyone loves a good costume party, so we’ll have a Roaring 20’s theme full of flappers and gangsters!
Saturday marks our Ferry Flight from Dallas to Charleston where Employee volunteers will be jetting off to join the FUN and be welcomed by a pep rally celebration at the airport! We are so excited to fly one of our SWA birds into Charleston and show them how to have a good time…Southwest style.
We won’t stop there, though. Saturday night we will host a progressive party in conjunction with Firefly Sweet Tea, hopping from place to place to show off all Charleston has to offer. Invited guests will enjoy fun specialty cocktails and appetizers at three locations throughout the night in honor of our nonstop markets!
After celebrating the Customers on our first flights out of Charleston on Sunday morning, we will show the Charleston community that Southwest truly cares by volunteering at the MUSC Children's Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House. Volunteers will be serving lunch, donating toys and pillowcases, and painting rooms and decorating rooms.
We’ll host a press conference on Monday officially commencing our start of service to the Lowcountry. That’s a lot of LUV packed into one weekend and we are so excited to get to Charleston and show them we are here to stay!
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It’s holiday time And you know what that means Searching , searching, searching For that perfect little tree. We invite you take a look At all the pretty trees Here is where you click: www.halloftrees.com And place your bid for charity. The Southwest Team in Nashville Adopted a tree, you see. And all the money raised Goes to the Cystic Fibrosis Family. The tree is pretty sweet With ornaments from coast to coast Sixty nine to be exact And two airline tickets if you choose to bid the most! Oh, and one more little surprise That goes along with the tree A set of red new luggage That will always fly for free…on Southwest, that is! So, Happy Holidays to you And your entire Family If you get on down to Nashville Please swing by and see our tree.
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It was April, 2009 when Nashville Mayor Karl Dean first learned about Denver’s Road Home (DRH), the city’s ten-year plan to end homelessness. Dean and 120 Nashville Business and Community Leaders were delegates on the annual Leadership Study Mission, a trip to another city to study common issues and learn best practices to apply to Middle Tennessee. During the DRH agenda session, we learned about Housing First, a best-practice model that offers permanent housing coupled with intense case management to the most vulnerable homeless individuals in our community. We also learned about the funding arm of Denver’s Road Home, including the special Donation Meter Program. Launched in 2007, the Donation Meter Program was designed to increase community awareness about Denver’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness. It has also acted as an effort to redirect the roughly $4 million a year that is given to panhandlers—most of whom are not homeless—into efforts that provide meals, job training, substance abuse counseling, housing, and other programs for those in need. Denver currently has 86 Donation Meters around downtown and at Denver International Airport that generate $70,000 in sponsorships and $30,000 in coins every year. After hearing just how much money these 86 Donation Meters (located in Downtown Denver and at Denver International Airport) bring in each year, it didn’t take long for Mayor Dean to charge The Key Alliance, the nonprofit fundraising arm of the Nashville Metropolitan Homelessness Commission, with implementing a similar program in Nashville. Leadership Study Mission in action: Study an issue facing both communities, learn ideas on how another city is “doing it right” and bringing that idea back to our city. Back in Nashville, the “behind the scenes” work to bring the Adopt A Meter program to Nashville began. Collaboration is always key to making any program like this succeed. After months of discussions and planning, Nashville Public Works agreed to donate 30 meters to be refurbished for the program, corporate sponsors were asked to “adopt” a meter, and Mayor Dean shared his vision to incorporate an added element of art to the meters. In addition to raising awareness and money for homeless outreach efforts, the Nashville meters would be a public art display for Nashvillians and Visitors alike to enjoy. After learning about the success of Denver’s Donation Meter Program and Mayor Dean’s vision to bring a similar program to Nashville, it was obvious that adopting a meter was the right thing to do for Southwest Airlines. After all, we are a Company of People dedicated to doing the right thing. And, we LUV to have FUN. Not only was this community partnership a great way to support homeless outreach efforts in Nashville, it was a FUN way to get our local Employees involved in this project. In February of this year, a “design off” contest was launched. Employees were invited to submit their best design that would adorn the Southwest Airlines Adopt A Meter. After the submissions were received, the Employees were asked to vote for the winning design. The voting was tabulated and Nashville Ramp Agent, Ken Smith, was the artist selected to embark on this project. Over the next few months, Ken spent countless hours of his own time (120 to be exact) designing, researching the right products, making trips to stores for materials, learning the technique of welding, painting, and installing the meter. He truly went “above and beyond” the call of duty to ensure we had a spectacular piece of art, “Southwest Style”, to embellish our meter. As you see in the photos, Ken incorporated a little music theme into his design (we are, after all, Music City). Now that you have the background, here is how this story ends. Almost 18 months from learning about this model from Denver, the unveiling of the first (just so happens to be the Southwest Airlines sponsored) Adopt A Meter happened earlier this week. Ken joined Key Alliance Executive Director Clifton Harris, Councilman Erik Cole, and Mayor Dean at a press event that introduced the meters to the Nashville Community. It was certainly an exciting day for all! Thank you to Mayor Dean, Councilman Cole, and The Key Alliance Team for everything they are doing to help the Nashville Homeless Community. And to Ken, a BIG thank you for sharing your Southwest Spirit, talent, and most of all, your time, to make the Southwest meter so special. The next time your travels take you to Nashville, be on the lookout for these meters around downtown. AND, if you want to donate a little change to the Southwest meter, you can find it located in front of Bridgestone Arena at the corner of Broadway and 5th Avenue. Your change will help change the lives of the estimated 4,000 Nashvillians who struggle with homelessness. To learn more about The Key Alliance visit www.thekeyalliance.org.
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January 1, 2010. Do you remember where you were? Maybe making those infamous resolutions, cooking black eyed peas, or watching football with the family! Whatever you were doing that day, you most likely enjoyed the first day of the new year from a warm home somewhere across the country. Sadly, while most of us celebrated and looked ahead to all that the new year had to offer, thousands of homeless teens were just trying to figure out where they would sleep that night. Country Singer, Jimmy Wayne, knows both sides of the story. Although he has enjoyed a successful music career including his first number one song “Do You Believe Me Now?”, Jimmy spent his early years as a homeless teen living on the streets of North Carolina. As he reflected on his troubled teen years, in late 2009 Jimmy was inspired to set out on a mission that would rise above all his musical accomplishments. With the goal to raise awareness of homeless children and teens, especially those who age out of the foster care system, Jimmy kicked off Project Meet Me Halfway on January 1, 2010. From the parking lot of Nashville-based Monroe Harding Children’s Home, Jimmy took his first step on his journey to walk halfway across America to spread the word of this mission that he knows all too well. With every step, Jimmy couldn’t help but think about what his life would be like now if he had “aged out” of foster care back in 1990. "Aging out" refers to what happens when youth reach a certain age (age 18 in most states) and are no longer eligible for support from the foster care system. Without foster care funding, many youth lose their place to live, health care coverage, connections to supportive adults, and are ill-prepared to support themselves in the adult world. Many youth end up like Jimmy — homeless on the streets. Fortunately for Jimmy, after being shuttled to a series of foster homes, he met Russell and Beatrice Carter. It was then, at age 16, that Jimmy’s life began to change. He finally had what every child deserves, a family. It was that connection to family and stability that changed Jimmy’s life. On August 1, 2010, exactly seven months and 1700 miles later, Jimmy took his final step when he arrived at Phoenix-based HomeBase Youth Services, another organization that serves the needs of foster children who have aged out of the foster care system and find themselves homeless. Along his journey, Jimmy inspired countless people who learned of his mission. From people who have earned certification to be foster parents, to families who now serve dinners at their local shelter, to new supporters who donated money along the way: they are all making a difference in the lives of homeless teens. Jimmy, you are an amazing person! What a wonderful gift you have given by raising awareness of this serious issue that is so close to your heart. Southwest Airlines was proud to be able to support Project Meet Me Half Way by flying you (and your new dog, Ruby) halfway back across America to your home in Nashville. Thank you deeply for everything you are doing to improve the lives of homeless teens across this country. Of Southwest's help, Jimmy writes: Thank you for the support. The free ticket was certainly a surprise. The walk from Nashville to Phoenix was a once in a lifetime experience but a memory that will last forever. I'm thankful you and Southwest airlines is a part of that amazing journey. I've been a loyal fan of Southwest airlines but now I'm an advocate. We are your fans, Jimmy! To learn more about Project Meet Me Halfway, visit www.projectmmh.org.
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If you happen to find yourself in Dapsimni-dong, a neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea, don’t be surprised if you see some Southwest Airlines inflatable hats flying around on the heads of some the cutest kindergarten students you’ve even seen! Let me explain. As I was putting together a "care package" a couple of months ago to ship to my sister, Jill, I decided to send the students she is teaching a special surprise, our infamous inflatable airplane hats. Yes, Jill would be excited to receive her favorites that she can’t find in South Korea ... macaroni and cheese, flour tortillas, hamburger helper, makeup, favorite hair products, lip gloss (this one especially makes her happy), and Big Red gum. AND, I knew her students would absolutely LUV the special treat I included for them in the package. So, $52.68 and two weeks later after shipping the package off from Nashville, I received a call from that weird number that had contacted me a few times since she moved in December. Yes, it was my sister calling to thank me for the package. She went on to explain that she and her Korean teacher counterparts had been planning for their big annual event, Parents Day. She couldn’t believe it when she opened my package and found the inflatable airplane hats. Not only because the kids would go crazy when she showed them, but because the topic for Parents Day was transportation. How perfect! As the saying goes, “timing is everything.” The Southwest Airlines inflatable airplane hats were the perfect addition to what turned out to be a great Parents Day in that little school in the middle of Seoul.
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On an early June day, right in the middle of one of the most beautiful urban parks I’ve ever seen, I arrived at the World’s Park Pavilion in Forest Park to find a few (well, let’s say 1,000 or so) of the most AMAZING hats a girl has ever seen! Not only were these some of the most unique, quirky and fabulous hats I’d ever seen, but the hat owners were some of the most loyal supporters of their community who have made outstanding commitments to this crown jewel of St. Louis, Forest Park. How does one thank all these loyal supporters? By throwing a fabulous party where everyone wears their best hat of the season, of course. The Hiram Leffingwell Award “Hat” Luncheon is the annual fundraiser of Forest Park Forever, an organization whose mission is to restore, maintain and sustain Forest Park as one of America’s great urban parks, for the enjoyment of all … now and forever! As secret judges scouted the hat scene looking for the “best of the best” in five categories (whimsical, couture, romantic, vintage and judges choice), event attendees sipped on lemonade, chatted about hat designs and enjoyed the spectacular setting of what brought them all together, the park that dates back to 1876. And finally, the time had come! Lunch was over, and the final show stopper of the event (what everyone had truly been waiting for) was about to happen--the parade of hat winners. Twenty ladies received that special tap on the shoulder, the one informing them they were a winner. They gathered in the back, and then, like a fashion show to rival any in New York or Milan, the parade of winners began. As thousands in the audience clapped, each winner proudly struck a pose on stage so the photographer could get that perfect shot of them in their prize winning design! And just like that, the perfect party in the park was over (at least until next year), and the luncheon had raised almost $410,000 for St. Louis’ beloved park, helping to keep it beautiful, safe and accessible for all. To all the ladies of the Forest Park Forever Women’s Committee: Thank you for all your hard work in organizing this wonderful community event! Southwest Airlines was honored to be a small part of this spectacular day in park. AND…if you haven’t had the chance to visit Forest Park, you really should add it to your summer “to see” list. To learn more, visit www.forestparkforever.org.
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Approaching Nashville on I-40 tonight, I passed abandoned cars, asset recovery, environmental services and property restoration trucks. For miles and miles, a reminder of what was on the minds of many Nashvillians this day--starting over after the worst disaster to hit Middle Tennessee since the Civil War. Although it was dusk and I couldn't see the devastation that wrecked my community, the thoughts of people still missing, thousands without homes, shelters full and downtown still flooded couldn't escape my mind. As I approached mile marker 192, I read the sign that I have passed a hundred times before: Nashville. Home of the Grand Ole Opry. That was also right about the time the curtain went up for the Tuesday night Opry show. Yes, less than 48 hours after the worst flooding in decades and unimaginable damage to the home of "The Show That Made Country Music Famous", the show must and did go on! The show was quickly moved to War Memorial Auditorium, one of the Opry’s original homes from 1939-1943. As I listened live on WSM 650, it was mentioned several times that "music is healing". And, how true that is! It didn't matter if it was a long standing Opry member performing a classic song, a new Country Music Artist performing his #1 hit or a Senator strumming his rendition of the Tennessee Waltz, the music gave me hope that Nashville will indeed pull together as a family and start the rebuilding and healing process from this catastrophe. On behalf of my Community, we hope you will continue to plan those trips to Nashville during the next few weeks and months while our city is rebuilding. Yes, we have an amazing amount of devastation, but we also have many hotels, restaurants, museums, and live music venues that are open for business and who would love to share some Nashville hospitality with you. You can check out www.visitmusiccity.com for the latest updates on Nashville. Finally, if you love music (and who doesn't?), please consider donating to the flood relief efforts to the city that music calls home - Nashville! The Nashville Red Cross (www.nashvilleredcross.org) is currently accepting support. As always, they appreciate and can use most quickly, cash donations. If you wish to personally support the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, you may donate in one of the following ways: Text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation from your mobile phone, visit http://www.redcross.org/, or call 1-800-REDCROSS. Nashville appreciates YOU!
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Last month, Southwest Airlines celebrated 15 years of serving Omaha. Although the post is a bit tardy, we still wanted to share the festivities with you. My My My Another FUN day Take a little peek From our party in the O M A! Nineteen ninety five March 4, to be exact We landed for the first time And haven't looked back. With pastries and cookies galore And, of course, our LIFT coffee Customers enjoyed the treats While the DJ jammed his beats! And with our Customers all around And Employees dressed up to say Thank you, Omaha For partying with us this day!
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