Heroes do exist and there is one probably sitting right next you right now. About 100 were sitting all around me at the Airline Ambassadors gala last week. Their PR person (who donates her time) introduced me to the organization. I was so taken with it, I immediately started setting up interviews with their Traveling Mom volunteers: moms like Kathryn Johnson, owner of Mosaic Farm in South Africa who is setting up a soccer camp there. and Linda who takes her children from Colorado to Bolivia on mission trips.
Airline Ambassadors started out as one simple idea by Nancy Rivard, an American Airlines flight attendant, to use industry travel benefits to lend a helping hand – proof one woman can make a difference in the world. Now over nine thousand flight attendants from all the major airlines are volunteers. They lead non-religious mission trips abroad to build safe houses, deliver medical supplies and escort children with medical needs.
Can’t go? Then pack an extra suitcase for your next trip and fill it with supplies that are needed in the area you will be visiting. One of the AAI volunteers will meet you at the airport to pick up the bag. Want to help more? Pack an extra bag – it will only cost you $50-$100. They make it soooo easy to help. And no bit of help goes unnoticed by Nancy. I watched her hug each person who arrived with equal enthusiasm. I got the same hug she gave Today Shows’ Ann Curry, super-singer, Jamia Nash and travel expert, Peter Greenberg, who were all there to support her hands-on programs.
The attendees at the AAI benefit included celebrities, dignitaries and ambassadors from around the world, philanthropic doctors and what one honoree called the Rockettes. He was referring to the team of volunteers who work alongside Nancy to change the world. Jamia Nash, a 13 year old superstar with talent that Suzanne DePasse compares to Michael Jackson, was moved to bring awareness to the Buruli ulcer that affects young people in 3rd world countries. She honored all there by singing Mariah Carey’s “Hero.” If she’s anything like her dad, and I am betting she is, Jamia will absolutely have a powerful and positive impact to bring relief to those kids.
And yes, if you are wondering, American Airlines does support Nancy’s efforts by providing planes for shipments and free tickest for raffles to raise money. Spontaneously, a new safe house was donated that night – to be built anywhere in the world. Those are the kinds of heroes I was sitting near.
As founder of TravelingMom, I pledge to share their stories and victories and to do my best to move other Traveling Moms to action. I have always known that a group of women is a powerful force.