Throughout November, JetBlue is continuing its mission of inspiring humanity with JetBlue For Good Month, a celebration of kindness and good deeds. Throughout the month, we’ll be sharing stories from our crewmembers and community partners who have gone above and beyond to make a difference in their communities.
Crewmember: Shane Bennett
Role: Manager, IT
Years at JetBlue: 11
What inspired you to get involved in giving back to your community?
Growing up, I’m lucky to have had very supportive and caring parents who instilled in me a passion for helping others. As an only child, I was always inviting friends over for dinner, sleepovers, and fun activities with my close-knit family – and this helped me develop a caring mindset. As I got older, I realized how important it is for kids in difficult life situations to have mentors to guide them in the right direction, and I started volunteering with organizations that provide mentorship experiences and after school programs for young people who need positive role models.
What organizations are you involved with now?
I’m a football coach for the Harlem Jets, which is an organization that helps kids reach their full potential through team sports (football, basketball, cheerleading, and wrestling) and academic enrichment. The Harlem Jets sports programs provide young people with a positive way to build character and channel their energy, learn teamwork and leadership skills, and make friends. With JetBlue, I’ve also donated my time to KaBOOM! playground builds, Soar With Reading, and Swing for Good, the annual golf tournament hosted by our JetBlue For Good team. Whenever the time and opportunity present themselves, I’m always the first one to raise my hand and give back. My focus is on providing value and resources to the community in any way I can.
What are some of the moments that stand out to you from your experiences volunteering?
I’ll share a couple of experiences that have been really impactful to me. The first was when one of my students invited me to attend his graduation from junior high school. He was the first member of his family to graduate from junior high school, and this was a really big moment for him. It meant a lot that he considered me a big enough part of his life that he wanted to give one of his graduation tickets to me, and I really enjoyed celebrating this hard-earned accomplishment with my student.
The second experience I’d like to share is the moment one of my students was awarded a Division 1 football scholarship. I believe my job is to help my students grow on and off the field, and it’s really powerful when these kids are rewarded for their hard work.
More generally, I’ve been able to help my students with everything from homework questions to social insecurities to giving them a couch to crash on for a night when things aren’t going so well at home.
Becoming a coach for the Harlem Jets is easily the best decision I have ever made. I see it as my investment in the future – I love when things come full circle and young people who benefited from the program come back to volunteer their own time for the organization.
What advice do you have for people who want to get involved with their communities, but don’t know where to start?
Time is probably the most valuable asset that you can give. Start with what you’re passionate about, because if you find a way to give a little bit of your time that feels important to you, you will be rewarded a thousand fold. There are a ton of opportunities to give back – if your passion is helping kids, if it’s education, or if it’s community – let that drive you. I would never suggest volunteering just to volunteer. Do something that is meaningful to you, where you’ll get something out of it too. Honestly, all it takes is rolling up your sleeves to help your community; find something you care about, make that connection, and go for it. If you connect your passion with doing it, you’ll get the love out of it and you’ll continue to make time for it – we make time for the things in life that we really love.