Southwest Airlines Selects Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network (TIHAN) For Grant

Southwest Airlines has selected local nonprofit Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network (TIHAN) as one of 52 nonprofits in the US to receive a special grant to share kindness.  

For its 50th anniversary, Southwest launched the One Million Acts of Kindness challenge in January 2021 to support and uplift those who help make the world a better place, one small act at a time. To celebrate having now achieved its goal of inspiring 1 million caring acts in the community, the airline has chosen 52 charitable, nonprofit organizations to receive a combined gift of One Million Dollars of Thanks, and one of the selected organizations is based in Arizona:  TIHAN.

The airline’s One Million Dollars of Thanks contest invited nonprofit organizations to apply to win 100 domestic, one-way travel awards.  Over 2,500 charitable groups submitted their entries and participated in the challenge by signing the airline’s Kindness Pledge, thereby committing to complete acts of kindness for others.  Initially planning to select 50 nonprofits to receive flight donations, Southwest awarded 52 organizations the passes because they achieved perfect scores based on the contest criteria.

TIHAN’s application was a proposal for 100 domestic one-way travel awards to share with people living with HIV who might not be able to afford to travel and want to visit family, or who might want to have a family member come and visit them here in Tucson.

“Our staff, volunteers, and donors spread kindness every day to people living with HIV/AIDS who find that their status can still cause fear and discrimination,” said Nancy Siner, TIHAN volunteer who helped draft the application.  “As a 501(c)(3) coalition of individuals, businesses, progressive faith communities, and nonprofit groups, TIHAN provides community resources and caring support so people with HIV can live well, and we are so thrilled that Southwest Airlines is granting us 100 free airline tickets to be used for people living with HIV to visit family or friends, or have someone come visit them.”

“As the airline with heart, kindness has been one of our guiding principles for our 50 years of service to our customers and the communities of which we are a part. It’s incredibly fitting that we celebrate our 50th anniversary and our one million Acts of Kindness Challenge by supporting organizations who are working today and every day to spread kindness in their communities,” said Linda Rutherford, Southwest Airlines Executive Vice President of People & Communications. “We’re thrilled to support these organizations and the impactful ways their missions help spread kindness.”

“Thanks to this gift from Southwest Airlines, we will spread even more kindness by sharing flight passes with 25 vaccinated CarePartners to take a guest of their choice for a roundtrip flight so they can visit family/friends after a long year staying safer at home,” said Deirdre Demers, TIHAN’s Program Manager.  TIHAN will be inviting its base of 400 people living with HIV to apply for tickets by sharing where they’d like to go, who they’d visit, or who they’d like to come visit them.

“Most of the people living with HIV whom we serve are people of color, over the age of 50, part of the LGBTQ+ community, and living in poverty,” shared Scott Blades, TIHAN’s Executive Director.  “We serve people in our community who are historically oppressed and under-resourced, and COVID has been an additional challenge to navigate in addition to HIV.  So it’s a blessing to for us to be able to share these gifts of kindness from Southwest Airlines with the people we serve.”

The gift to TIHAN is part of Southwest’s contributions of 5,200 domestic, one-way travel awards, valued at more than $1 million.  For more information about Southwest Airlines, visit www.southwest.com.  Media inquiries can be directed to swamedia@wnco.com.  For more information about the Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network (TIHAN), visit www.tihan.org or contact Scott Blades at scott@tihan.org

Since 1994, TIHAN–the Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network—has been organizing volunteers, businesses, organizations, and faith communities to respond to the HIV/AIDS health crisis.  In addition to HIV awareness and stigma reduction programs, TIHAN supports people with HIV to live as well as possible.

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