Featured Corporate Volunteer Program: Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines employees, from the top corporate officers down to the airplane restocking crews, are known for spreading a whole lot of “luv.” In fact, LUV is their official NYSE symbol!
To further their mission of empowering their employees and providing top quality customer service, Southwest Airlines encourages volunteerism at every level. The stories of outstanding community service by Southwest Airlines are too numerous to mention; but here are a few examples:
Gary Kelly, Southwest Airline’s Chairman and SEO, was named “Texas Public Schools Friend of the Year” last fall for his contributions to public school education in his home state.
Once per quarter, Southwest Airlines volunteers host a dinner at a local Ronald McDonald House, personally gathering food and cooking for everyone in the house. They typically feed over 100 people, and even entertain the kids with games and art projects!
Southwest Airlines’ annual Adopt-A-Pilot program reaches fifth-grade students in more than 1,000 classes across the country, helping them hone their science, math, geography, and writing skills with aviation-related activities, led by volunteer pilot mentors. This program has an environmental awareness element as well, focusing on how Southwest Airlines uses energy and fuel, and how they have worked toward becoming a more eco-friendly company.
Developed in cooperation with the US Department of Education and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, Adopt-A-Pilot started with just 50 classrooms in 1997. It has since been recognized by Gen. Colin Powell, President Bill Clinton, Former First Lady Laura Bush, and other national leaders.
Each year, Southwest Airlines honors their most outstanding volunteers by adding names to their wall of honor. Recent additions include a pilot who started the Snowball Express, which raises money to treat families who’ve lost a loved one in Iraq to a weekend at Disneyland. Another honoree is a flight attendant who started a charity focusing on children’s cancer research after she lost her four-year-old daughter to the disease.
Corporate volunteer programs are good for the communities they serve and for the company, too. Customer good will and positive press coverage is priceless for any size company.
Remember that proper volunteer screening will help keep your organization and clients safe.