Huntington Insurance in Columbus, Ohio, has been named a Change Agent—earning a $3,000 donation from Safeco and Liberty Mutual to Honor Flight Columbus, which provides senior veterans with a trip to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials that are dedicated to their service and sacrifice. Huntington began partnering with the organization in 2018; today, over 200 company employees support the mission. Those employees include team lead Lisa Moore, who shares her giving story here.
My father fought in World War II and my father-in-law was in the Korean War, so honoring veterans carries a special significance for me—and after just one time volunteering with Honor Flight Columbus, I was completely hooked.
This idea behind this great organization, led by Pete MacKenzie, is that our veterans should be celebrated, our debt to them acknowledged, and their stories shared. Honor Flight Columbus arranges one-day trips for senior veterans to see the war memorials and monuments in Washington, D.C. that were built to commemorate their service.
These trips rely heavily on the work of volunteers: “Guardians” pay their own way to travel to D.C. with the veterans and provide vital support, and there’s always a group of dedicated people at the airport for an early-morning sendoff and a big welcome when the veterans get home. It’s really wonderful—we sing patriotic songs and form a gauntlet of well-wishers that the participants walk through on the way back to their families. More than 200 Huntington employees help, including both guardians and airport volunteers.
Honor Flight Columbus usually does about six or seven trips per year, and until the pandemic hit, they were looking to expand in 2020. With about 1,600 senior veterans on the waiting list, I know Pete is eager to get things moving again—but because so many of them are vulnerable health-wise, all flights for 2020 have been cancelled.
Pete and his team haven’t been sitting still, though. They are using this time to get stronger as an organization and spread the word so they have the funding and the ability to start up again quickly when it’s safe for these veterans to travel again. And we haven’t stopped our support, either: We participated in a Veterans Day t-shirt sale earlier this year that raised nearly $6,000.
I like to tell people that volunteering with a cause that matters to them isn’t only one of the best ways to change your life—it doesn’t have to cost a dime, either! Of course, once you get involved with something like Honor Flight Columbus, you end up wanting to do everything you can to raise awareness of the work they do and help them do more of it.
I’m grateful to everyone at Huntington who gives their time and effort—and I’m proud to play a small part in giving these veterans the opportunity to feel the appreciation they deserve. It’s truly an honor for all of us.