by Ivan Martinez, Director of Outreach & Wing Operations
When AFW made the difficult decision of temporarily suspending pilot-flown passenger flights several months ago (we’re now back to flying our passengers, thankfully), we also resolved to not idle back, but instead proactively find opportunities where we could help transport PPE and other essential supplies. Outreach begins with connection, and Wing Leaders and outreach volunteers throughout our 12 Wings reached out to our healthcare partners, nonprofit relief groups, state emergency departments, testing sites, and anyone who could point us to where there was a need. It wasn’t easy, but through persistence many connections were made, though unfortunately, the majority didn’t bring in the flying opportunities we sought. However, some outreach volunteers did find these opportunities.
Utah Wing Outreach Coordinator Joanne Brattain volunteers to help with the Covid-19 relief flights. This photo was taken before masks were mandatory.
Joanne Brattain has been a long-time Angel Flight West volunteer, supporter, and member of the UT Wing Leadership Team. As the Utah Wing Volunteer Outreach Coordinator, Joanne leads the Wing’s efforts to build awareness of our services. She has conducted in-service presentations, built and maintained relationships with several of our healthcare partners, and promotes AFW on social media. Through her contacts and social media, Joanne was able to connect with the nonprofit Covid-19 relief group, “With Love, From Strangers,”an organization that arose in response to the need to provide PPE and supplies to the tribal communities of The Four Corners.
Local TV station catches volunteer pilot Mike Evans and other volunteers in action.
Joanne has been instrumental in the yearly planning of the Utah Santa Flights, particularly with bringing media attention around the event. Media attention is another proven form of successful outreach. We’ve received requests from new passengers who came across AFW through a story on the six o’clock news or from their local newspaper. It reaches new pilots, too. Sending a press release or simply making a phone call to a news tip line at your local TV station or newspapers is a great place to start. Our “Media Guidelines” is an additional resource to help with media activity. You can find it in the “Outreach Toolkit” along with other outreach resources. Be sure to let your Wing Leader and the outreach staff at the office know of your efforts, which helps us keep track of activities, outcomes, and perhaps follow-ups. You can find the toolkit at the link below. Our staff is always available to help with the writing.
Utah volunteers unload supplies and prepare them for take-off.
Joanne helps to load PPE.
Joanne offers a few tips to consider:
- Research and keep a good list of your local press – tv/papers – emails work best
- Use social media to spread the word and watch for opportunities in your area. Most towns have some sort of local page.
- Write a solid press release for special events/activities, send to the list and follow up. For example, we send the Santa Flight release about 10 days out and follow up a few days before.
- Keep a file of hi-res photos you can use for social media (resize for that) and press.
For more information or to sign-up as an outreach volunteer, reach out to your Wing Leader. From the Angel Flight West office at KSMO, I’m Ivan Martinez, AFW outreach news.