WestJet and LiveDifferent: Going (beyond) the distance to make a difference

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Since 2008, WestJet has been taking us to new heights, powering our program delivery, business travel and fundraising efforts with the gift of flight.

And in 2012, we decided to take our relationship to the next level.

Wanting to make a difference in one of WestJet’s most popular Caribbean destinations, we established the inaugural WestJet LiveDifferent Build, their first international Community Investment initiative.

2022 marked our 10th anniversary!

To date, more than 500 WestJetters have worked alongside local translators, contractors, and community and family members to build 53 homes with families living in extreme poverty in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

But it hasn’t stopped there.

Beyond building

At LiveDifferent, we are amazed and inspired by the incredible passion and commitment of our volunteers who consistently go above and beyond to make a difference.

When LiveDifferent volunteers exceed their fundraising goal for a Build, that money goes back into community projects through LiveDifferent’s Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund. This fund supports local needs and helps enhance the quality of life for people living in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

But with WestJet, things are done a bit differently.

In addition to their personal fundraising goal, WestJet challenges its WestJetters to fundraise over and above to support a community project. WestJet sets out the goal that they will match WestJetters over-fundraising efforts up to $5,000. Pooling and matching the funds allows us to plan for more impactful community projects that WestJetters can be a part of during their annual Build. This ensures they can see first-hand the tangible results of their efforts.

Any additional funds raised that are not allocated to these projects will then go to LiveDifferent’s Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund.

“When we issue the over-fundraising challenge to WestJetters, it’s amazing to see how they go above and beyond and start to connect to the cause before they get to the Dominican Republic,” says Brittany Tough, WestJet’s Community Investment Advisor. “Year over year since we’ve asked them to do so, they have surpassed their goal – and in some cases doubled it – allowing us to make a bigger impact in the communities we know and love. It truly is WestJetters’ care, passion and commitment to making a difference that propels these projects and fuels their hearts to be a part of something that connects them to the communities we serve and the people we care about throughout our network.”

Over 10 years, WestJet and WestJetters have raised more than $105,000 in additional funds.

And these funds have opened up a world of possibilities.

Choosing community projects

We strive to ensure that our annual over-fundraising projects are sustainable and truly benefit the entire community. Each year, we work with local leaders, organizations and our team in the Dominican Republic to see how we can make a positive, sustainable and lasting impact.

WestJet has always been enthusiastic about staying involved to see how they can contribute, not only with WestJet homes and projects but in other areas as well.

WestJet has made significant enhancements within local communities by …

  • buying land and playground equipment for a new children’s club (and later providing maintenance for this equipment);
  • buying equipment for a local medical clinic and underwriting the salary of a doctor to be at the clinic three days a week for one year;
  • refurbishing basketball courts for local youth;
  • improving roadways and infrastructure;
  • assisting with funding for hurricane relief;
  • building an ocean breaker wall;
  • cleaning and assisting at the local dump (and later building a waste management centre); and
  • supporting house renovations and other humanitarian items

“WestJet has been an incredible partner and to be able to recognize 10 years of working together – hands-on with WestJetters from all areas of the WestJet community – is something we are extremely proud of,” says Alison, Interim Director of International Programs.

“The sheer number of WestJetters we’ve been able to work with and the magnitude of their over-fundraising illustrates the strength of the partnership and the commitment to having a positive impact on others. However, it’s the re-engagement of WestJetters along with their colleagues, friends and family – the depth of the WestJet community, in and outside of the work day – that truly speaks to the sense of community that WestJet and LiveDifferent share.”

Soaring higher together

This amazing connection between WestJet and LiveDifferent has grown and developed over the past 10 years. From the homes that love built to the connections that the WestJet LiveDifferent Builds program has helped to foster and the incredible over-fundraising that supports entire communities, we have created something truly special.

Through our commitment and dedication to one another, as well as the communities we serve, we have been able to make a difference and show the world what love can do.

And we will continue to do so in the years to come.

Author: Gina Alward

Date: April 28th, 2023