Southwest Airlines has always been devoted to each and every community that we serve. Our Employees, Customers and neighbors make the Southwest Family the LUVing place that it is. Thousands of times each year, Southwest Airlines and its Employees reach out to individuals, families and entire communities providing help where it is needed. Most donations are invisible–except to the people they affect.
This month I am particularly proud to showcase the San Diego Center for Children. Their work mirrors the Principles we live by at Southwest Airlines: Maintain the self-confidence and self-esteem of others; Maintain constructive relationships; Take the initiative to make things better; and Lead by example. More importantly, the Center heals hearts and minds of children, adolescents and their families and care givers!
I invite you to invest in their mission – a mission that impacts us all!
Back in 1887, when San Diego was a small town, prominent San Diegan women raised money so women factory workers who had no nearby family had a dignified place to live. A year later, this Women’s Home Association also began helping children becoming both the first orphanage in San Diego and the first children’s hospital, and was later renamed the San Diego Center for Children. Thus began the 124 year history of the San Diego Center for Children, a non-profit dedicated to serving our community’s most vulnerable children and their families. With seven sites across the county, the Center helps children thrive whose trauma, abuse or mental health challenges delay their school and community success.
The Center is one of the best examples of what can happen when caring individuals come together to make our community a better place. The small group of women who helped the Center in its early years, including Anna Marston and Kate Sessions, were followed a century later by Mary Clark, Ellen Burnham and so many others. Today, the Center is supported by community leaders such as Doreen Schonbrun, Elizabeth Oliver, Kathleen Stoughton, Carol and Jack Clark, Elsie Weston, Laurel and Don McKahan, and great companies such as Southwest Airlines, Sempra, AT&T, US Bank, Union Bank and Bank of America.
Support from corporate partners and individual donors contribute to advancements and innovations in the Center’s continuum of programs and services, such as the newly unveiled intensive reading improvement and children’s wellness programs. These types of innovative programs compliment an array of services we provide to special needs children to help them heal, including an intensive 24-hour therapeutic residential program, a foster family agency, and a K-12th grade accredited school, mental health counseling, recreational therapy, a life skills program, a robust music program and extracurricular as well as sports activities.
At the San Diego Center for Children, we believe it is a combination of intensive mental health therapy and programmatic innovations that provide the Center’s special needs children with a happy and positive childhood. In 2010, the Center’s team of expert staff members identified a growing need in the community – children’s treatment programs across San Diego County were failing to address the fact that falling behind in reading level adds to the difficulties children with special needs face. More than one-third of the children who were seeking services at the Center were severely behind grade level in reading.
Many children who have experienced trauma or abuse, or have mental health challenges often turn towards unhealthy behaviors such as drug or alcohol abuse to numb their pain as they age. Instilling healthy habits within children early on can help immunize them against potentially unhealthy choices in the future. For the children at the Center who have a family or foster family, the wellness program extends into the home, so healthy gains made by the child can be adopted and sustained by the family.
The Center’s children have benefitted from a San Diego community that gives back. Without the help of our donors over the last 124 years, the childhoods we are able to provide to our special needs children would not be as full of happy moments.
Every year, we salute our partners at our gala. This year on the evening of May 12, the Center will hold its most significant fundraising event for the year. This year, the theme is ‘Glee at the Grant’ celebrating the children we help and the community who helps them. Southwest Airlines is our airline sponsor partner for this event, with other sponsors including the Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Nation, CDM, U.S. International Media, Pepsi and the KCM Group. The Center invites you to be part of this event.