Three visionary women created a foundation to assist flight attendants in need
American Airlines creates Quality of Work Life program (QWL), opening communications between various departments across the company with the goal of improving work life.
The AIDS epidemic had impacted the American Airlines flight attendants work group particularly hard. Many of our colleagues were seriously ill and in need of emotional and financial support.
Flight attendants from each base created individual fundraising efforts such as bake sales and raffles to aid ailing colleagues.
QWL flight attendant committee members Ada Asher (DFW), Marie Lockbaum (JFK), and Patti Baskin-Palmer (LAX) realized that these small, base-by-base efforts were not enough. They approached Patsy Underwood, Director of Flight Service at American Airlines, who agreed to support the formation of a broader fundraising organization.
American Airlines helps to formalize Wings Foundation organization
All departments at American Airlines embraced and contributed to our “flight attendants helping flight attendants” cause.
From 1987-1989, American Airlines legal department volunteered to help Ada, Marie and Patti write the by-laws, policies and procedures. They then filed for non-profit status, and Wings Foundation was born.
“Management at American was incredible! While flight attendants had the passion and commitment for this program, we could not be what we are today without that early support from our management!”
-- Patti Baskin-Palmer, Co-Founder
American Airlines Credit Union joined us to create a system for payroll deductions that remains Wings Foundation’s primary source of funding.
Onboard aluminum can recycling program begins in San Jose, California
In 1989, after working as a flight attendant for a year, Heather Bell was appalled at the volume of trash discarded after each flight. She worked with her QWL colleague, Patricia Howitt, to start a pilot program for the San Jose International Airport. This initiative was met with widespread enthusiasm by flight attendants and the income generated by onboard recycling exceeded all expectations.
By “Earth Day” - April 22, 1990, thirteen airports were participating in the onboard recycling program which generated 12,751 pounds of aluminum. Proceeds from this valuable commodity were donated to AIDS research, Flight Attendant Disaster Relief, Wings Foundation, Nature Conservancy and other charitable programs.
Heather received a personal phone call from then-American Airlines CEO, Robert Crandall, who had heard about her efforts and thought it was a great idea to start a system-wide aluminum can recycling program.
American Airlines helps expand recycling program system-wide
American Airlines expanded its recycling program to 40 of the 112 US airports it serviced.
By 1999, 4.2 million pounds of aluminum (that's 85 million cans!) had been recycled on American Airlines flights. Onboard recycling was widely embraced by other US carriers, using Heather’s ingenuity as their model.
Her creation of a systemwide onboard recycling program earned Heather Bell two “Recycler of the Year” awards from Keep America Beautiful.
Jacki Graham joined the recycling effort, and became responsible for the program for the next 10 years.
Recycling and Flight Attendant Disaster Relief merge with Wings Foundation
September 11, 2001, the day that forever changed our industry. Ada, Marie and Patti affirmed their promise that Wings Foundation would persevere in the face of uncertainty.
Jacki Graham asked Wings Foundation to continue the legacy. Wings Board of Directors adopted Flight Attendant Disaster Relief as an impactful addition to “flight attendants helping flight attendants.”
Creation of Wings Foundation website
After twelve years in office, Marie Lockbaum stepped down from her role as National Wings Foundation Chairperson.
Wings Foundation Board of Directors created a new position, “Term Director," for volunteers representing each flight attendant base.
After thirteen years in office, Patti Baskin-Palmer stepped down from her role as President, Wings Foundation.
Kathy Crandall elected as President, Wings Foundation.
Patty Baker elected as President, Wings Foundation.
Sam Gooch elected as President, Wings Foundation.
Debbie Roland elected as President, Wings Foundation.
Wings Foundation celebrates its 25th anniversary.
American Airlines and US Airways merge.
Legacy US Airways flight attendants are welcomed to Wings Foundation.
Wings Foundation co-founders and presidents (L-R back): Sam Gooch, Past President; Kazumi Chapa, President; Debbie Roland, Past President. (L-R front): Patty Baskin-Palmer, Co-Founder and Past President; Marie Lockbaum, Co-Founder and Past President; Kathy Crandall, Past President.
Kazumi Chapa elected as President, Wings Foundation.
AAdvantage Cash & Barclays joined Wings as corporate sponsors.
30 years of flight attendants helping flight attendants!
Our new brand is launched
The COVID-19 virus swept the globe, causing our industry and foundation to face an emerging crisis. All scheduled in-person Wings fundraisers such as LipSync were suspended or canceled. American Airlines implemented a new payroll system for flight attendants, which canceled existing payroll donations and required enrollment in a new giving platform.
Wings volunteers rose to the challenge. We raised funds for our foundation through ingenious methods: creating face masks, luggage tags, and hosting virtual fundraisers.
American Airlines donated more than 1,000 “retired” beverage carts to Wings Foundation. This successful fundraiser has generated over $200,000 thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers.
Barclays donate an unprecedented $250,000 to Wings Foundation.
Since the start of our partnership with Barclays, they have generously donated over $450,000.00 to Wings Foundation.