by Ann McGee-Cooper
This past Thursday and Friday we enjoyed celebrating another year of working hard as part of the Southwest Airlines Company Culture Committee whose mission is to keep the Southwest Spirit strong in the hearts and minds of all our amazing Employees. Warrior Spirit, Leading with a Servant’s Heart and Keeping a Fun-Luving Attitude define the Southwest Spirit. And to keep it kindled in the hearts, minds and actions of each Employee by showing our appreciation and nurturing their spirit is our challenge each year. Carol Haddock, our AMCA Partner, is sporting a fun tunic as part of her Orange Team’s dress for the day.
Something amazing happened at the close of the meeting. Valerie Lagrone, one of the talented members of the Culture Services Team, went to the mic and brought tears to our eyes with her inspiring song as 45 of our Culture Committee Members rolled off Active Membership to now become Alumni. As their gift back to us each person carried a statement of something really special that working at SWA has brought into their lives and the lives of their families. “My SWA Family provided support, gifts and lots of diapers for the births of my three children.” “SWA gave me the freedom to change positions so I could be my mom’s caregiver.” “Retired from another airline and came to SWA. Need I say more…” “Gave me job security so I didn’t have to worry during down times.” “Surrounded by great, supportive friends and a great place to work.”
As each person walked past us we reflected on our own blessings being a part of such an inspiring SWA family who are all working hard to provide great Customer Service both inside the Company and for our beloved Customers. We know we are growing and this means that each of us must be creative as we search for even more inspiring and effective ways to keep the flame burning brightly in the hearts and actions of each SWA Employee.
John O’Leary was our special closing treat sharing his story of Rising Above impossible odds to survive a terrible accident. At age nine John was burned over 98% of his body and not expected to live through the night. With a great deal of endearing humor he shared his difficult journey of months in the hospital, dozens of surgeries and losing all of his fingers to amputation (yet he played the piano for us as his closing gift).
He told how a large male nurse encouraged him each day to expect to walk again. And a hero sports announcer quietly visited him day after day, bringing hope and encouragement. John is now a husband and the proud father of four wonderful children and speaks all over the country bringing his message of hope in the midst of impossible odds. You can find him on www.RisingAbove.com.