If you’ve ever been in the presence of a WestJetter, you know we tend to be highly engaged and passionate individuals. Whether we are in and around the airport, on our aircraft or out and about in the community, we like to go above and beyond. Our drive to truly care about enriching the lives of everyone in the WestJet world directly impacts our guests, as well as the communities we call home.
WestJetters can often be found making a difference by giving their time and skills to a multitude of charitable and community initiatives throughout Canada. To celebrate and recognize these meaningful contributions, WestJet supports our volunteer efforts through the WestJetters Caring for Our Community program. When WestJetters volunteer with organizations that they are passionate about, the eligible non-profit/charitable organizations not only benefit from the WestJetter’s time and talent, they also have the opportunity to receive the Gift of Flight to be used for fundraising purposes.
The Gift of Flight can be earned in one or two ways:
- When WestJetters volunteer at least 40 hours or more over a 12 month period with an organization of their choice; and/or,
- When WestJetters who organize themselves into groups of five or more volunteer together at the same time.
We asked WestJetters who actively use the WestJetters Caring for Our Community program to give us some insight about why the program is important to them, and why they do what they do. Keep checking in to meet each WestJetter, or team of WestJetters as they share their responses each day this week.
Day 1: Meet Amber, Cabin Crew Member
Amber has been with WestJet since 2015, and is a Cabin Crew Member. Cabin Crew Members are responsible for helping our guests board the plane, offering service during the flight and are specially trained for emergency and/or medical situations. Amber loves everything about her job and the people she gets to meet.
Amber is passionate about travelling, abandoned buildings, good food, healthy living and animals. When she’s not working, she’s doing something with her dog, catching up with family/friends or doing something outside. Amber loves to volunteer and most of her volunteer time is spent with animals as she is very passionate about them. Amber has been volunteering with the Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary for the last few years. Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary is family owned and operated and is a safe place for many animals rescued from abuse, neglect or slaughter. The sanctuary is fully funded by donations.
When we asked Amber about the WestJetters Caring for Our Community program, and why it was important, she said, “Because it allows employees to give back to organizations that mean a lot to them. It helps extend WestJet’s mission ‘to enrich the lives of everyone in WestJet’s world.’” Amber tries to practice the mission in her personal life as well. She says, “This program is an easy way of giving back and affecting others in a positive way, it empowers people to get involved and allows volunteers to see how they are making a difference.” Amber goes on to say, “It may seem like such a small thing for a big successful company to do, but for a volunteer and organization that runs off of donations, it means the world.” Amber is truly proud to be a WestJetter and believes that WestJet does enrich the lives of many.
Day 2: Meet Bev, Pam and Michelle – Saskatoon Airport
When we asked the team in Saskatoon to tell us about themselves and why volunteering and being active in their community was important to them, Bev responded, “We are very much guest focused and community minded…every time we participate in a volunteer event, our group becomes stronger and we are inspired to get out and do more.” Pam adds, “Our team helps each other out without hesitation.” The team is big on performing random acts of kindness not only for one another, but for their guests, family and friends. Pam says, “Everyone gives in their own way-but ultimately, we all give to each other in some way, big or small. I think that’s why this team has such a strong sense of community, it starts at home, and WestJet is a second home to all of us – we are an extension of family.” Bev and Pam both agreed, “Our volunteer group is fluent, ever changing. People put in the work when something touches them…people volunteer based on how passionate they are about the charity we are supporting.”
When asked about why the WestJetters Caring for Our Community program is important to the team in Saskatoon, Bev says, “We are given this amazing opportunity to give to the community, and in the process each of us gains so much. We as a team are inspired to care, for the community, our guests and each other.” The team regularly organizes ‘Steak Nights’ to fundraise money for local organizations they are passionate about. Some of those organizations include: the Saskatoon Society for the Protection of Children Inc., Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre, The Lighthouse Supported Living Inc., the Ronald McDonald House Charities Saskatchewan and the King George School. Bev and Pam feel inspired to do more and are proud to be WestJetters. It feels good to give their time, talent and skills. They feel inspired by the people they meet along the way. The team in Saskatoon is very passionate at giving back and urges everyone to get involved and to seize opportunity, not it let pass by. Michelle ends with saying, “In a world that is always short on time, it’s quite easy to give $20 and move along. However, sometimes it’s only time that our community needs.”
Day 3: Meet Christina, Coordinator – Communications, Winnipeg Airport
Christina works as a Communications Coordinator in Winnipeg. In this role, she is responsible for keeping a close eye on the Winnipeg operation to ensure that the WestJet team is informed and supported so that they can safely performing on time, or as WestJetters call it SPOT, and provide the best guest experience possible. Christina is also one of the Trainer Liaisons, which include instilling the practical learning to our team. Her various roles ensure that her work hours vary and no day is ever quite the same.
Christina is a proud Mom to two boys who keep her and her husband busy. She is just shy of 12 years with WestJet, and she cherishes the time she’s spent the Winnipeg team. Christina is a music fanatic, and takes any opportunity to go see live bands. She’s been known to travel far and wide just to see artist’s perform – cross those off the bucket list! Christina uses her spare time to give back locally and, in 2016, she started a non-profit with her dear friend of 36 years called: The Kindred Project.
When asked about why the WestJetters Caring for Our Community program is important, Christina responded by saying, “The program has been hugely impactful to me and the organizations I have worked with; it has given me a bridge to connect my WestJet life to my personal life.” Christina says, “Almost all my volunteer work has come to be via two streams, first being organizations that are somehow connected to my children such as their school or sports clubs, and secondly are the charities that I have admired for their work in my local community.” Furthermore, she states, “Every organization I have worked with is either enriching the lives of my own children or seeing to the needs of children at large. Knowing that my small part in giving of time and skills are adding to the benefits these various charities provide is such a great feeling and gives me a sense of personal accomplishment. An unexpected benefit to my volunteering has been the skills it has added to my professional toolkit. I have, through volunteering, added practical experience for leadership, technical skills and project management to my resume”.
Christina ends with telling us that she’s a typical WestJetter, and she loves telling people where she works and affirming the culture of caring WestJet is known for. The ability to participate in the program has driven her desire to seek out and accept new volunteer opportunities so she can spread the gift of flight benefits across her community.
Day 4: Meet Denny, Jill, and Emily from Halifax Airport
The Halifax Airport team is made up of enthusiastic, dedicated and passionate WestJetters who never say no to the opportunity to give back in their local community. “This team is always willing to help whenever they can. Most of the time, we have a draw and limit the amount of people that want to volunteer to give back to the community,” says Denny. When asked why participating in the WestJetters Caring for Our Community program was important to the Halifax team, they responded, “It makes us feel good not only to give back to the community but to represent WestJet in a positive light. It shows the community that we care.” Denny adds, “It brings us closer together as a team…and it makes us feel good and proud to be WestJetters.” The Halifax team usually identifies one WestJetter that organizes the volunteer experience and remains the main contact. That WestJetter then briefs the rest of the team and, when at the event, the group does everything they can to help out. They usually bring extra WestJetters just in case.
Most recently, the team has volunteered with the Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s Gutsy Walk, the IWK Foundation’s IWK Telethon for Children, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Halifax, the Laing House and the Tema Conter Memorial Trust to name a few. The team feels proud that their contribution makes a difference in the lives of others.
When we asked the team about advice they had to give to anyone who wanted to volunteer, they simply responded, “Just get involved. It’s never too late to make a difference in someone else’s life.”
Day 5: Meet Glen, Pilot
Glen has been a pilot with WestJet since 2008. Currently flying, he has recently been able to modify his schedule to have the best work-life balance possible. Glen was born and raised in Kelowna; he loves the outdoors and the recreational aspects of living in BC.
We asked Glen why he volunteers and what motivates him, he responded, “Volunteering is always a great opportunity to give back. No matter what you’re volunteering for it’s always a positive experience. It’s a great way to meet new people and give back to my community.” Glen is passionate about volunteering with Motionball – Marathon of Sport in support of Special Olympics Canada over the past three years. Motionball is an all-day fundraiser called Marathon of Sport. All funds raised at the event are donated to the Special Olympics Canada. The mandate is to introduce the next generation of volunteers and donors to the Special Olympics movement through integrated social and sporting events, and creating relevant, meaningful experiences that help bring the fun back into giving.
He says, “Motionball enables me to volunteer through my passion for sports towards a great cause that I truly believe in. Meeting and playing sports with these amazing athletes is an inspirational experience that’s extremely fulfilling. That has to be the number one motivation for me.” Glen goes on to say, “The best thing about the WestJetters Caring for Our Community program is that it enables you to use the benefits of work to help with fundraising. To be able to give a person one round-trip flight for two, anywhere that WestJet flies, is an amazing way to raise money for your foundation.” He continues by saying, “As a fundraising tool it brings the WestJet brand and the Special Olympics Canada brand together. I take great pride as a WestJetter spreading our brand to raise money for a great cause.”
When we asked Glen about his favourite memory of volunteering with the cause he said, “Three years ago during the closing ceremony all the Special Olympics athletes had a dance off. I’ve never seen that many dance moves all at once in my life. What a special moment.” Glen ends with saying, “As WestJetters – we take pride by going above and beyond at work every day; when you volunteer for anything that’s exactly what you’re doing, going above and beyond.” We know it makes a big difference in the lives of others, too.
At WestJet, we are grateful for all of the WestJetters across our network that make our world and communities a better place. Thank you for your caring character, selfless ways and for inspiring us all to go the extra mile.