Never let it be said that the vision and work of one person can’t change things for a lot of people. This episode of Red Belly Radio is about the Southwest Airlines Employees Catastrophic Assistance Charity—and the vision of a man who brought it to life.
About 19 years ago, Randy Rickard had the idea to assist our Employees in times of need. Simple enough, if everybody donated very small amounts of every paycheck, it could add up to a lot of money. The Southwest Airlines Employees Catastrophic Assistance Charity (SWAECAC) was started to help Employees suffering severe financial hardship resulting from a catastrophic event in their lives. These are generally emergency, medical, or personal circumstances for which a person could not be expected to be adequately prepared through responsible financial planning and budgeting.
There is a SWAECAC Board of Directors that meets every two weeks to consider applications, with the primary source of money coming from our own Company payroll. Many Employees choose to donate a portion of their paychecks, but we also receive money from private donations, honorariums for speaking engagements our Employees participate in, leftover department "party funds," and various fundraisers throughout the year. And, 100 percent of money donated is tax-deductible as it is a certified 501(c)(3) charity.
The Board of Directors recognizes that each situation is different; therefore we have not adopted any formal guidelines for offering assistance. I recently ran into Randy, who is now retired, and talked to him about getting the Charity off the ground.