Southwest Airlines has a big heart on all its planes because without a heart, it’s just a machine! As a corporate partner and sponsor of PCI for more than 15 years, Southwest Airlines has helped touch the hearts and lives of millions around the world for the better. Back in 2014, Southwest launched LUV Seat, a program that donates leather plane seats to be “upcycled” to create new leather products in Africa. Program participants develop new job skills and earn an income through producing leather bags, balls and shoes. Southwest is happy to support PCI’s mission to empower the world’s most vulnerable communities, and I invite you to learn more about the great work they are doing not only locally but around the world.
Project Concern International’s roots run deep in San Diego, where the global nonprofit began in 1961 with one young doctor’s desire to improve the health of children along the U.S.-Mexico border. Fast forward 56 years and the organization has grown in both size and impact, working to enhance health, end hunger and overcome hardship in 16 countries.
Now, as PCI looks to the future, a new president and CEO is at the helm with an ambitious goal to double its impact and reach 20 million people a year by 2020. Carrie Hessler-Radelet recently joined PCI after serving as the 19th Director of the Peace Corps. Carrie herself began her career in international public health as a Peace Corps Volunteer with her husband, Steve, in Western Samoa in the early 80s.
“In the last two decades, we have made more progress in almost every measure of development than in the previous 500 years combined,” Carrie says. “Deaths of children under 5 have been reduced by half and more than 1 billion people have risen out of extreme poverty.” On November 4th, PCI will be celebrating many of these successes and renewing its commitment to enhancing health at home and around the world as part of its annual Hands Across Borders gala.
For her dedication to PCI’s work in San Diego and around the world, Molly Manchester Eldredge will receive the first Anne Otterson Community Connector Award at the gala. Medtronic will receive the Corporate Leadership Award, and philanthropist Spencer Kirk will be honored with PCI’s Humanitarian Award.
PCI works to improve the health and well-being of Latinos in San Diego County through basic health education workshops, public service campaigns and referrals to local clinics. Efforts are concentrated in low-income areas, where death rates from chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes are up to 1.5 times higher for Latinos.
PCI is also at the forefront in the fight against human trafficking in our city, which ranks among the top areas for child prostitution in the United States. In addition to working closely with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego, local schools, and the District Attorney’s Office to address this issue, PCI has formed a Business Alliance Against Trafficking.
A major partner in this effort are the hospitality and travel industry including Southwest Airlines. Southwest trains all of its new employees to look for potential instances or victims of human trafficking. At last year’s gala, Southwest received PCI’s Corporate Leadership Award.