People

Lifting Spirits While Lifting Neighborhoods

Customer Support & Services Team Leader Latasha Jones recalls feeling emotional as she worked with her Southwest Cohearts to spruce up Phoenix’s Park South neighborhood, the place where she grew up. “It was a surreal feeling to walk down the street and see everybody diving in, getting trees planted,” she says. “I knew some of the neighbors from when I was younger, so it was a really, really good feeling.”

Latasha and 26 fellow Employees participated in the Park South project. It was spearheaded by the Resilient Communities Initiative, a collaborative effort between Southwest and Points of Light, which aims to transform low-income neighborhoods into thriving places of opportunity by strengthening connections among residents, building community pride, and improving quality of life. We partnered with local nonprofit HandsOn Greater Phoenix, a Points of Light affiliate, to obtain input from residents on potential improvements.

Park South was showing its age and was not as lush as it once was, since many of the area’s trees and plants haven’t survived in the Arizona heat. Through a series of discussions, partners in the project asked members of the community what would most enhance the area. The number one request was drought-tolerant shade trees, especially along streets where local school children walk.

“The residents of this neighborhood want a walkable community,” said Rhonda Oliver, President and CEO of HandsOn Greater Phoenix. “They want their neighborhood to be aesthetically pleasing.”

Southwest Employees teamed up with other volunteers and residents to plant 22 trees as well as improve the surroundings at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. Volunteers painted murals, built two new picnic tables and a sandbox, repaired a shade structure, and refreshed the outdoor classroom and garden.

Our work in Phoenix is one example of our commitment to lifting up the communities we serve. Park South is one of three communities that received assistance in 2017 from Southwest and Points of Light. Throughout 2017, we donated a total of $300,000, and Employees volunteered hundreds of hours to support the Resilient Communities Initiative and projects in Phoenix, Atlanta, and Chicago through the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community program. Through a separate partnership with Project for Public Spaces, we also awarded $570,000 in grants to revitalize two public parks in Oklahoma City and Buffalo, and a city plaza in New Orleans. These grants enable our local community partners to help bring new life to public spaces in an effort to connect our Employees and Customers in the cities where they live, work, and play.

These grants enable our local community partners to help bring new life to public spaces in an effort to connect our Employees and Customers in the cities where they live, work, and play.

By working with a range of partners, both nationally and locally, we seek to ensure that our community impact efforts have a lasting effect. The issues that we seek to address are often complex, nuanced, and differ from community to community. Building strong, resilient communities does not depend on the efforts of single individuals or organizations; it requires planning, cooperation, and collaboration from many contributors. We remain committed to connecting People to what’s important in their lives and working with others to help build a better future.

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