Our mission at WestJet is to enrich the lives of everyone in our world. In addition to our Canadian-based Community Investment programs we also extend our caring culture to one of our most popular Caribbean destinations, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, through the WestJet Hero Holiday initiative.

Since our inaugural trip in April 2012, more than 150 WestJetters have participated in three Hero Holidays building new homes for 15 deserving families that live in the impoverished community of Nuevo Renacer (formerly Aguas Negra).

Prior to last November’s trip, Sarah, Coordinator of Community Investment, and I had the privilege of meeting the families our team of 50 WestJetters would be building for. We visited with them in their homes pre-demolition and reconnected with families that we previously helped.

We captured the hopes and dreams of these families and the life-changing impact WestJetters and our Canadian charity partner Live Different are making in this video.

After meeting with our 2013 families, Sarah and I put our hardhats on and assisted with house demolition day. The feeling of working side-by-side with the families and local contractors punching a crowbar through deteriorated walls and actually getting to physically push down these former makeshift homes will stay with us forever.

Jenifer and Sara
It’s difficult to capture the sweet, raw emotion of the families as they helped to bring down their former homes. Something I had not previously considered was the sadness that can come with destroying one’s home – change, even for the better is hard. Regardless of the materials holding up the walls, the lack of locks on doors, or the unreliable roof overhead, a home is a home and our families’ homes were filled with love. Knowing that their new homes will also be filled with love quickly brought huge smiles to their faces. As we worked we could see the hope and promise for a better future shining through their eyes.

Having solid walls and doors with locks is indeed life changing. Families are able to live together, safely and securely, under one roof. Rain, mud, mold and sickness are no longer constant threats.

Hero Holiday finished houses

I look forward to meeting our next team of 50 WestJetters who will be going to Nuevo Renacer this October for our fourth WestJet Hero Holiday. Together we will work to build five more homes and enrich the lives of five deserving families living in extreme poverty.

Being welcomed into a family’s home is a special gift. Being able to build a new home for a family in need is perhaps the greatest gift of all.

If you are interested in participating in your own life-changing Hero Holiday please contact Live Different. To learn more about the WestJet Hero Holiday, watch this video from our inaugural trip.