Compass Flight Attendants Spend Vacation Giving Back

Champa-&-Purdue
Compass flight attendants Judy Champa and Sarah Perdue

This spring, two Compass flight attendants spent their vacation time doing something decidedly different than relaxing on a beach or catching up on sleep.  Judy Champa and Sarah Perdue used their vacation time to travel to Guatemala and help build a house for a family in need.

Judy and Sarah traveled to Guatemala as part of the God’s Child Project, a non-denominational initiative dedicated to fighting poverty around the globe.  God’s Child’s work in Guatemala includes the Dreamer Center in Guatemala City, which provides health care, education, and crisis intervention services to the local population, as well as Casa Jackson, a hospital that cares for severely malnourished infants and children.   God’s Child also operates a homeless shelter, an orphanage, a drug treatment center, and numerous other educational programs for impoverished children across Guatemala.  Volunteers from all over the world travel to Guatemala to help God’s Child provide services ranging from feeding and rocking babies, to teaching orphans and building homes.

Judy and Sarah were part of a team of God’s Child volunteers tasked with building a home for a family, who was at the time, living in a hut made of sugarcane stalks with a dirt floor.  It took a lot of hard work, but the team was able to finish the family’s new home in just three days.

On day one, the volunteers dug a trench for the house’s foundation, which was made of three layers of brick and mortar.

Guatamala-2

On day two, wood was cut to frame the house, and volunteers mixed and poured concrete for the floor.  “All tools were powered by pure muscle,” Judy said.  “Mixing concrete by hand is an arduous job but well worth it – a concrete floor versus a dirt floor can cut disease by up to 70%,” she added.

framing

On day three, the volunteers put the finishing touches on the house, including the signature blue paint that identifies houses built by the God’s Child organization.  A door and window were installed, as well as gutters to guide the rains away from the new home.

Construction 1

“Turning over the house was quite emotional for the family, as well as for volunteers,” Judy said.  “The family presented each volunteer with a handmade card expressing their gratitude for their hard work.”

While in Guatemala, the volunteers also distributed clothing to about 200 families (clothing for donation is brought by the many volunteers in their checked bags), as well as served dinner to the homeless at the project’s Santa Madre Homeless Shelter

Both Judy and Sarah plan to return to Guatemala next March, and encourage anyone interested in volunteering to join them.  International volunteer work is a great fit for airline employees, as most organizations require volunteers to pay for their own airfare.  Sarah and Judy used their flight benefits to fly to Guatemala, and each paid just over $50 each way.  Judy flew on American (RNO/LAX/MIA/GUA), while Sarah flew American on the way there (DFW/GUA), and Delta on the way back (GUA/ATL).

To learn more about how you can get involved with this worthy organization, please visit godschild.org.

Compass Flight Attendant Doubles as Mrs. Claus for Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

Los Angeles-based Flight Attendant Deborah Gorney has found a pretty remarkable way to give back to the community in her spare time.  For the past 7 years, she’s been part of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Volunteer Mounted Unit with her horse, Luke.  These trained volunteers act as “extra eyes” for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, providing mounted observation patrols everywhere from busy mall parking lots to high school sporting events.  The mounted volunteers also appear with the Sheriff’s department at community outreach events and school visits.

3Each December, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sponsors a number of Santa appearances in the communities it serves.  Several years ago, Deborah’s volunteer work took a festive turn when she was asked to assume the role of Mrs. Claus at these annual events.  In this guest post, Deborah relates what it’s like to spend her Decembers as Mrs. Claus, and why the experience has meant so much to her.

I have been working with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for many years now.  I started in the mounted unit doing trail patrols, as well as appearing at law enforcement events in the school and community with my Sheriff horse, Luke.

One day, my Sergeant approached me and asked if I would become the department’s Mrs. Santa Claus.  He and his wife had been playing Santa and Mrs. Claus, but they they were retiring, and the department needed a new team.  Of course I agreed!  My Lieutenant and long time friend, Karl Claas, agreed to be Santa so that we could be a team. It was going to be so wonderful making thousands of children happy during the Christmas season!

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During these events, Santa and Mrs. Claus ride a sleigh pulled by a Sheriff department truck.  We are escorted by many Deputy Sheriffs in their patrol cars.  They let the kids know we’re on our way by flashing their horns, making announcements over the PA system, and sounding their horns and sirens.

We do this for three weeks in December, almost every night.  We have anywhere from 12-18 stops per night, and we cover the areas Palos Verdes, Lomita, and San Pedro.  Each night, about 400 to 500 children visit us. They sit on our laps and tell us what they would like for Christmas.  The little ones usually prefer to sit on Mrs. Claus’ lap because Santa can be a little intimidating when you’re little.  Besides, everyone knows that Mrs. Claus loves babies!

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Santa and I love making the children happy.  Their eyes sparkle when they see us and, it’s priceless! However, Santa and I have also heard many sad things from young children.  Some children have asked Santa and I to bring them shoes, because they didn’t have any.  Others only wanted a little Christmas tree because their families couldn’t afford one. Some just want their parents to stop fighting.  Others just wanted us to talk to their mom in heaven for them.

One day, Santa and I decided to do something to help these children.  We started keeping track of children in need and asked Deputies to get their addresses. With the Sheriffs station’s help, we would get them the things they needed so desperately.

It didn’t stop there!  We started getting requests to visit families who had children with disabilities that wouldn’t allow them to come see us on the sleigh.  Of course, we went to their homes and brought them gifts!  We also started getting requests to make appearances at different events and at schools for special needs children and adults alike.

Sometimes our days go from early in the morning to late at night.  But it’s for such a wonderful cause! During a recent event, we visited a military base and brought toys to the children of active duty military personnel.  We love making children of all ages happy.  It is the most rewarding experience ever.  We would not trade it for anything.

When I was younger, Christmas was always my favorite time of the year.  Now I understand that together, we can make a difference in children’s lives over the holidays.

With Love from Santa and Mrs. Claus

From Mrs. Claus and the entire Compass team, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season!