Since 1971, Southwest Airlines has grown from a scrappy airline only serving only 3 cities to being America’s largest domestic carrier. We’ve evolved along the way, but one thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to supporting our communities. Through our partnership with Cesar Chavez Service Clubs, we’re helping build confidence, competence, and a sense of community within young people across San Diego County. We’re proud to partner with Cesar Chavez Service Clubs and invite you to learn how their impactful work is changing lives and impacting our community for the better.
Cesar Chavez Service Clubs
Co-Founders of the Cesar Chavez Service Clubs Linda and Carlos LeGerrette volunteered for Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers for over thirteen years making five dollars a week with room and board.
Today if you ask them, they will tell you it was a phenomenal time in their young lives where they worked 70-hour weeks, developed an incredible work ethic, lifelong relationships and a zest for building leadership skills in underserved communities.
That thirteen-year experience was the inspiration for the development of the Cesar Chavez Service Clubs, (CCSC). Building a leadership development Club in public schools to teach young students to believe in themselves and to know they can make a difference in their communities and the world, is now a reality as over 15,000 students have attended the afterschool program since 2008.
Third through twelfth grade students in San Diego bring Cesar Chavez’s legacy to life through their leadership. The “Chavistas” come together in weekly club meetings where they learn about the history of everyday people who have made the world a better place – from the farmworker movement to the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the movement for LGBTQ rights and the efforts to save the planet. The Chavistas then put what they learn into action through community service projects they design themselves.
Earlier this year, Chavistas partnered with other student groups to make mental health education part of the core curriculum in the San Diego Unified School District. After a year of remote learning, Chavistas were well aware that they and their peers felt lonely, isolated, stressed out and even depressed. So, they pressed the school board to develop strategies to promote mental health.
Taking a page from Cesar Chavez and the farmworkers movement, the Chavistas pulled together small meetings of friends, teachers, parents and neighbors to share stories of mental health challenges they all faced and to commit to pulling together. These small meetings led to large numbers of people signing a petition to the school board supporting the students’ proposal. Chavistas then met individually with members of the school board to explain their proposal and share what strong mental health education would mean to them personally. The day the school board officially put the students’ proposal on the agenda, the Chavistas held a press conference at district headquarters, where elementary, middle school and high school students gave powerful testimony about the impact mental health education would make on the lives of young people. The school board unanimously voted to implement the students’ idea of mental health education for all.
This Spring, Chavistas from San Diego will board a Southwest Airlines flight to Washington, D.C., to learn more about our nation’s history and engage with government officials on issues like climate change, education and the importance of voting. It will mark the thirteenth such trip made possible by the partnership of the Chavez Clubs and Southwest Airlines, and the first since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Southwest Airlines provides free flight vouchers for the Chavistas and the staff for the adventure of a lifetime for these young leaders – many of whom have never been on a plane or travelled outside of California. Working together, Southwest Airlines and the Cesar Chavez Service Clubs are building the next generation of leaders, inspiring us all to believe in a more just, inclusive, and sustainable future.