April 7, 2013

Volunteering During Red Cross Month


Since 1943, March has been designated as Red Cross Month, a time to recognize the organization’s relief efforts both in the U.S. and across the globe. Our airline is the largest group of corporate citizens in the local Greater New York chapter, with 565 crewmembers trained by American Red Cross (ARC) as Ready Team volunteers. Rob Maruster, our Chief Operating Office also serves as chair of the chapter’s board of directors.

In honor of Red Cross Month, our Care and Emergency Response department organized some volunteer opportunities in the New York area–and 40 of our crewmembers volunteered to help last month:

  • Assembled 200 Comfort Kits for communities that experience a natural disaster
  • Joined the ARC phone bank (Our crewmembers made 1,200 calls to volunteers in the ARC database, and reminded them to update their profiles with information vital to volunteer managers, such as special skills and languages.)
  • Repaired homes affected by Hurricane Sandy

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March 13, 2013

March is Red Cross Month

March is Red Cross Month, designated back in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt when the organization held large-scale fundraising campaign during World War II. Financial support was needed for the war, and FDR called upon the American Red Cross to lead a fundraising initiative to reach a goal of $125 million. The Red Cross reached that target and beyond, with funds totally $146 million, a campaign FDR called “the greatest single crusade of mercy in all of history.”

Every President following FDR has issued a proclamation that March is Red Cross Month, a time to recognize the organization’s relief efforts both in the U.S. and across the globe. Nearly 70,000 disasters a year require Red Cross assistance, and its volunteers mobilize to offer relief. The Red Cross also gives support to the military and their families.

The Ready Team activates during natural disasters to assist with the Red Cross’ efforts

 JetBlue and the American Red Cross

The Red Cross, formed in 1900, trains approximately 9 million Americans each year in first aid and other skills to be ready when tragedy hits. In fact, 565 of our crewmembers have been trained for the American Red Cross Ready When the Time Comes program, and our team is the largest group of corporate citizens in the Greater New York Area.  Our Chief Operating Officer Rob Maruster was named Board Chair of the American Red Cross Greater New York Region. After Hurricane Sandy, Rob appeared on an American Red Cross telethon to help raise relief funds, and discuss how our airline offered support to those impacted.

JetBlue is the largest member of the New York American Red Cross and the greater New York area is the Red Cross’s busiest region, home to more than 13 million people. Responding to approximately 2,500 local disasters annually, the group provides relief through food, shelter, and emotional support.

Learn more about our work with the American Red Cross
Meet our Care and Emergency Response team

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December 18, 2012

Donating $820,000 to the Red Cross’ Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts

On Monday, Dec.17, Rob Maruster, JetBlue’s chief operating officer (COO), and Robin Hayes, JetBlue’s chief commercial officer (CCO) were joined by two customers that donated via jetbluegives.org.  Niki Glarkis and Rosalind Sutherland represented the more than 7,400 JetBlue customers and TrueBlue members that gave so generously.

After the hurricane, we quickly mobilized and launched jetbluegives.org to engage customers and TrueBlue members in fund raising efforts for the Red Cross. Throughout November, customers donated $720,000 to support the relief and recovery efforts of impacted communities. We matched the first $100,000 bringing the grand total to $820,000.

Following their donation, many customers shared comments, feedback and advice for the victims of Hurricane Sandy including from the two below who joined us yesterday:

  • Niki Glarakis shared “Being a resident of Long Island I was affected by Sandy by losing power for a few days, however nowhere near the damage I saw in other areas. I knew I had to and felt obligated to help the communities that were hit hard by Sandy. It is heartbreaking to see the amount of loss and devastation Sandy left. I also donated money since JetBlue is a company that showed initiative to help. I did what I could and thank the many people and companies like JetBlue, who have made a difference. We will rebuild again.”
  • Rosalind Sutherland commented, “I live in New Orleans, so I am very aware of the emotional toll of living through a disaster. My advice to the victims of Sandy is to take one day at a time, one task at a time and don’t try to go it alone. Remember that there are people who you will never see or meet, who are sharing what they can (money, clothing, volunteering, etc.) and praying for your safety and well-being. Hang in there!”

Read additional customer comments.

Our relationship with the Red Cross is an ongoing collaboration. Our COO Rob Maruster currently serves as Board Chair of the American Red Cross of Greater New York. Also, through this partnership, more than 500 JetBlue crewmembers have joined the Red Cross ‘Ready When the Time Comes’ (RWTC) program that trains community-based volunteers to mobilize with the Red Cross during a disaster.

Our JetBlueGives.org  was powered by KULA Causes and provided an immediate platform for our customers to donate directly to relief efforts right in their local communities in the New York tri-state area. For every one dollar donated via the site, TrueBlue members received six TrueBlue points in return. Through this transactional giving program, our loyal customers became donors providing much needed, time sensitive charitable donations.

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June 16, 2012

JetBlue Honored by the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross presented JetBlue with the Corporate Leadership Award at the organization’s annual gala this week. Our COO Rob Maruster accepted the award on behalf of JetBlue, in particular the 500 crewmembers who make up our Ready Team.

Our COO Rob (middle) accepts the award on behalf of our Ready Team

Our Ready Team is the largest group in the Greater New York area, and it champions our caring value— crewmembers volunteer to work alongside the Red Cross in response to major disasters. The Ready Team has been deployed to Bismarck, North Dakota to support pending flooding, provided assistance to residents in Binghamton, NY whose homes were destroyed, created valentines for soldiers overseas, and more; just a few examples of how the Ready Team springs into action—often at a moment’s action.

The award recognizes the Ready Team’s efforts, and JetBlue’s support of the American Red Cross. The 500-strong group will grow even larger this year, with approximately 100 crewmembers scheduled to participate in trainings with the American Red Cross.

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June 11, 2011

Long Beach Crewmembers honored by the American Red Cross

Our Long Beach Crewmembers received the prestigious Hal Ball Good Neighbor Award for their professionalism and compassion after the crash of a private plane at LGB this past March. Crewmembers attended the ARC Volunteer Recognition 2011 event held on June 4.

After the accident, LGB arranged American Red Cross Volunteer training classes for Crewmembers. Thanks to our LGB Crewmembers for living the values!

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July 2, 2013

Wingwoman Tracy: Giving Back and Gaining a New Perspective

Published on Huffington Post on 7/2/13

Many people travel for work, vacation to visit family and friends or all of the above. Through our travels, we explore our passions and often find new ones. With each new experience, our eyes and hearts open wider than we could ever imagine, and we bring home memories that will last forever. Last month I was lucky enough to travel with fellow JetBlue crewmembers and volunteer in some of the communities in Oklahoma affected by the recent tornadoes . During my journey, I interacted with some of the most courageous people I’ve ever met, who, despite being down on their luck, restored my faith in the human spirit.

After having children I realized how special life can be. I knew that I wanted to help those who may not have the good fortunes I do, so I made a commitment to start making a difference for others. It’s no secret that I’m a big advocate for voluntourism and have traveled plenty in the past across borders to do good. In my experience, I’ve found that volunteering events tend to fall into one of two buckets: heartwarming occasions where people teach and engage with those in need or heart wrenching experiences where volunteers aid in a community’s recovery. My travels to other countries to work with wonderful organizations include Orphanage Outreach and Sandals Foundation, where I’ve taught children about hygiene and helped build a playground, would be placed into the first bucket. But while I enjoyed these experiences greatly, it was my recent trip to Oklahoma that provided some of the most meaningful moments of my life.

There are many reasons I enjoy being a flight attendant for JetBlue, from the people I work with to the cities I travel to. Still, a part of my job that I take the most pleasure in is the opportunity to volunteer for JetBlue’s community and recovery efforts. In the past I’ve had the pleasure of raising funds for a cause that is particularly close to my heart, Angel Flight Northeast, a JetBlue-sponsored organization that flies terminally ill patients and families to get the critical care they need at no cost to them. But there has still never been an experience quite like my trip to Oklahoma with the JetBlue Ready Team. My seven days working with the American Red Cross in Oklahoma was my first experience being deployed as a part of the Ready Team and it will certainly stay with me forever.

Under the airline’s Care & Emergency Response Team, the Ready Team was launched in 2009 and brought together more than 100 JetBlue crewmembers to be trained by the American Red Cross to respond to major disasters. The size of this initiative continues to grow within the company and I’m proud to say that I’m part of a 542-person team trained and ready to deploy to a disaster zone on a moment’s notice.

I was part of a group of 20 JetBlue crewmembers who touched down in Oklahoma to aid in disaster relief. We came from all over the country from New York and Salt Lake City to Long Beach. We met and worked alongside local volunteers, as well as members of the New York Fire Department who also made the trip to the Midwest. We worked together for a full week, often for 10-12 hours straight. It was an “eat, sleep and volunteer” environment. I didn’t know one person prior to arriving, but I’m always amazed at how close strangers become when they share the same goal of helping others. We marked logistics in a warehouse in Oklahoma City before loading up trucks with supplies to bring to affected communities. We brought people everything from baby food and diapers to rakes and flashlights. I’ve always known about the fantastic work that the Red Cross does, but I was blown away by how the whole operation was so well organized on the ground.

I was most astonished by the resilience of the people in Oklahoma who, despite losing everything, still remained positive. As a flight attendant I meet hundreds of people each year flying in every direction, but I’ve never met nicer people than I met in the communities of Oklahoma. Many stood beside concrete slabs where their homes once were and instead of crying for their loss, they were smiling for their survival. Being with the victims and observing their positive attitudes was a truly special experience and I hope that I was able to give them just a sliver of the hope that they gave me.

I have been lucky enough to travel around the world to pursue a passion of mine, giving back to people in need, but my trip to Oklahoma proves that you don’t need to go far to make an impact. Do what you can to make a difference — you don’t need to go far to do something that matters. Spend your weekend getting involved in your local community; help build a playground, volunteer to read to the elderly. There is plenty of good to be done everywhere. And if you’re new to volunteering don’t take on too much at once. Reach out to local town offices or nonprofit chapters in your area to learn about ways you can help. The easiest way to get your feet wet in giving is to join charitable groups that already organize volunteering events; bring friends, family and co-workers with you and make a difference, whether in your own backyard or somewhere else in the world. Every bit of help makes a huge difference.

Tell me your favorite ways and places to give back and follow me on Twitter (@Wingwoman_Tracy) for more voluntourism tips.

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June 4, 2013

Helping Those in Need in Oklahoma

Following the tornado in the Midwest, eighteen members of our Ready Team have been deployed to Moore, Oklahoma to assist the American Red Cross in their relief efforts. This specially trained team of volunteers at JetBlue will assist on a 14-day deployment to the impacted area.

Taken by our crewmember and Ready Team member Donnie in Oklahoma this week

We’ve also opened up a payroll deduction link internally for crewmembers to donate to American Red Cross Disaster Relief and have shipped supplies out to the area most impacted.

Our thoughts are with those in Oklahoma during this most difficult time.

Learn more about the work of our Ready Team.

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May 10, 2013

Building Playgrounds in Areas Impacted by Hurricane Sandy

Did you know that only one-in-five children lives within walking distance of a park or playground? Following Hurricane Sandy, that number has increased in impacted areas. In the aftermath of natural disasters, play becomes even more critical as it creates a sense of normalcy and provides an emotional outlet for children. In an effort to support children in those areas most impacted, we’ve extended our pledge to rebuild New York with a commitment to allocate support for three playground builds this year in areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Our first post-Hurricane Sandy playground build will take place on May 18 at Magnolia Playground in Long Beach, NY. Two more builds will be announced later this Spring. Long Beach, located in Nassau County, Long Island, experienced significant damage to its shoreline and infrastructure. Magnolia Playground was destroyed nearly six months ago and hundreds of children living in the area have not had a suitable place to play since Hurricane Sandy.

The future site of a brand new playground in Long Beach!

While every KaBOOM! playground build is an inspiring event, the post-Hurricane Sandy playground builds will give volunteers a special chance to reflect on the storm’s impact while renewing their neighborhood. More than 200 volunteers from JetBlue, the City of Long Beach, Surf for All, organizers from KaBOOM! and residents of the local community will join forces to build a new play space at Magnolia Playground. The new playground’s design is based on drawings created by children who participated in a Design Day event in March.

Magnolia Playground is the 17th playground build by KaBOOM! in partnership with JetBlue. We’ve worked together over the last seven years to create play spaces for children across JetBlue’s communities and help fight the deficit of play for children in undeserved neighborhoods and areas under development following natural disasters. This partnership has successfully engaged more than 3,800 volunteers to move 16 tractor trailers full of mulch, which now benefit more than 10,000 children. JetBlue is a KaBOOM! National Partner, a group of organizations providing long-term guidance and support to KaBOOM! and its mission.

Since Hurricane Sandy, JetBlue has coordinated several efforts to provide assistance to its neighbors and help rebuild communities in New York. Just last month, JetBlue made significant progress in revitalizing Highland Park in Brooklyn. Airline crewmembers and community volunteers planted more than 2,500 trees in an area identified by the New York City Parks Department as a priority location for revitalization efforts. The 100-acre park lost a significant stretch of trees due to Hurricane Sandy. Additionally, in the days following the storm, JetBlue partnered with the NYC Food Truck Association to serve more than 25,000 meals to residents throughout in impacted areas. The airline also donated $820,000 to the American Red Cross on behalf of its customers for relief efforts in the New York area.

Learn more about our partnership with KaBOOM!
Learn more about our community efforts around Hurricane Sandy

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January 10, 2013

A Day in the Life: Care and Emergency Response

A Day in the Life, where we take you behind the scenes at JetBlue to learn more about the important jobs that work in concert together to run a major airline. This time, we visit with Penny on our Care and Emergency Response team who has one of the most forward-thinking jobs at our airline.

The Care and Emergency Response Team: (from left to right) Athena, Christina, Kristal, Puneet, Matt and Penny

The Care and Emergency Response team falls under our Operations team, positioning it as one of the vital wings at JetBlue. The team is responsible for preparing JetBlue to effectively, compassionately and responsibly handle major crisis at the airline. Headed by Penny, who has been with JetBlue since 1999 (before we had a name or aircraft to fly), along with her five team members, Christina, Kristal, Puneet, Matt, and Athena, has built a nimble and caring team that manages thousands of crewmember volunteers to effectively plan for and mobilize around challenging times.

The team is responsible for setting up our Emergency Command Center (EEC) at our Long Island City support center, a space with 27 assigned positions that activate in times of need. The team is also in charge of planning for the 100 assigned members of the Go Team to provide incident management support on-site in the event of an aircraft incident; and the Family Support Team (FST) composed of more than 200 volunteer crewmembers based in our Salt Lake City support center trained to provide assistance to family members via phone. Every city throughout our network also has at least one trained crewmember who serves as emergency response liaison who works on their preparedness plan locally.

The Ready Team activates during natural disasters to assist with the Red Cross’ efforts

Penny’s team also ensures that all plans and procedures are updated and tested. Her team organizes a full-scale emergency drill every other year and annual tabletop drills to keep everyone fresh on protocol surrounding an emergency or major incident.

We’ve extended the purview of the Care Team to include helping one another in times of need that extend beyond our own operations. We have more than 1,200 trained Care Team members throughout our 75 city network who may be called upon at any time to travel to an area to assist where help is needed during natural disasters or other unfortunate events. In addition, we have a Ready Team made up of over 500 specially trained volunteers who activate to work with the Red Cross during natural disasters, whether or not they occur in communities that we serve. Learn more about the Ready Team and where they’ve traveled to assist others in need.

Unloading supplies to help those impacted by Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy is the most recent example of our Ready and Care team activation. Penny and the Care team knew that although we had many crewmember volunteers in the New York area that many may have been impacted by the hurricane and so the team called in 40 Care volunteers from our Florida stations to assist. In addition to the partnerships we formed to assist our customers and impacted communities following the hurricane, we also set up a team to assist affected crewmembers.

The Care and Emergency Response Team’s job is to prepare for major crisis and make sure that we have the people, plans and supplies in place to activate quickly and effectively. “We like to think of ourselves as a team who needs to balance our heads and hearts,” Penny relays. “Caring is part of our DNA, it’s who we are, and it’s so rewarding to know that we’re helping to build a stronger company.”

Read Penny’s 2011 Op-Ed in the New York Times about her role at JetBlue

Check out the previous editions of A Day In The Life and meet:

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December 7, 2012

Thanking Our Customers for Their Hurricane Sandy Donations

Hurricane Sandy exceeded the worst expectations, affecting millions of people in the Northeast, including many of our own crewmembers and customers. While we were struck by the devastation of the storm, we were even more overwhelmed by the generosity of our customers.

With your thoughtful donation to jetbluegives.org, together we’ve raised more than $820,000 to the Red Cross to aid in the rebuilding efforts of our impacted communities. For donating, your TrueBlue points have been automatically deposited into your account. We know we’re very lucky to have customers like you who are there to help those in need. From all of us at JetBlue, thank you for caring.

On Dec. 17, we’re presenting the Red Cross with a check as a symbol of the work we’ve all done together. We would love to share your stories with the organization: Why did you give? What message would you like to send to the Sandy victims?

Tell us your story in the below comments section.

Learn more about our ongoing efforts

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