People

A Garden With Heart

Southwest Flight Attendant Gina Duvall knows that having a Servant’s Heart is an essential part of Living the Southwest Way. “I’ve always been passionate about volunteering,” she says, “so I’m thankful to be part of a Company that supports this passion.”

Southwest is dedicated to connecting and celebrating the communities we serve across the globe, especially through our volunteerism initiatives. Our Tickets for Time program encourages Employees like Gina to volunteer by providing Company support to the causes they care about. For every 40 hours our Employees volunteer with a qualified nonprofit organization or school, Southwest gives that organization one complimentary, roundtrip ticket to help meet fundraising or transportation needs.3131) Each qualified organization is eligible to receive up to six roundtrip tickets per calendar year as part of the Tickets for Time Program.

Hearts in Action
Recently, Gina and a few of her fellow Cohearts touched an entire community by spearheading a Tickets for Time project at Hoover Middle School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As part of the school’s offering, Hoover provides a special education program for sixth through eighth grade students. Many of the students in this program are low mobility or non-verbal, so much of their curriculum focuses on daily living activities.

Prior to 2017, Gina was already a regular volunteer at Hoover. But that year a special effort at the school caught her attention. “Hoover decided to construct a community garden for the special education students to use for de-escalation and sensory stimulation,” she shares. “Hoover’s principal had worked with Southwest in the past and knew we would want to help these students.”

A Group Effort
In true Southwest Spirit, Gina got to work connecting with others. She first recruited the support of fellow Southwest Employees from a variety of Departments—including Ground Operations, Inflight, Technical Operations, and Provisioning—to help with construction of the garden.

I've always been passionate about volunteering, so I'm thankful to be part of a Company that supports this passion.
—Gina Duvall, Flight Attendant

Then she turned her efforts outward. As a Flight Attendant, Gina took advantage of the many opportunities she had to tell Customers about the garden during her travels. On one of her flights, she met a manager from an Albuquerque-based masonry supplies company that donated hundreds of cement blocks needed to build the garden.

But that was only the beginning. “Once the blocks to build the garden were secured, I struggled to find the funds to fill the garden,” Gina remembers. “I began a conversation with a Customer I recognized on a flight, who, it turns out, was a regional manager of a national hardware chain. She quickly introduced me to the manager of our community’s store who was inspired by our project and donated the soil and plants for the garden!”

In a similar situation, Gina met the manager of a local grocer who donated food to feed project volunteers on the day of construction. By the time Gina’s Cohearts and other volunteers arrived at the site to begin building, they had everything they needed to make Hoover’s garden a success. “It seemed that every time a need arose, somehow it was filled. It just goes to show that when we work as One Team, we are unstoppable.”

By the time Gina’s Cohearts and other volunteers arrived at the site to begin building they had everything they needed to make Hoover’s garden a success.

Grand Opening
Because of the hard work of Employees like Gina and others, Hoover was able to expand their dreams for a garden. Hoover now contains not one, but two gardens: one that produces vegetables and fruit and another that grows flowers and herbs. Best of all, the project continues to pick up momentum, as the local community has rallied around Hoover to support the gardens’ growth.

“What started as a passion project will only get bigger and better,” says Gina. “When our Employees join the local community with creativity, innovation, and—most importantly—Heart, it is truly a winning combination.”

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