Music for Life: The Sound of Aloha - United Hub
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Watch now: The sound of aloha

By Matt Adams, June 30, 2017

Standing inside Play4M.E.'s storefront at Honolulu's Ala Moana Center, it's hard not to notice a common tendency in the passersby: a quick glance through the window followed by a double-take and, inevitably, a smile. A room filled floor-to-ceiling with bright blue, red, green and yellow `ukuleles can have that effect on people.

Unlike its trendy neighbors in the open-air mall, Play4M.E. (short for Play for Music Education) isn't a retail outlet. That is most evident by the signs beneath the rows of `ukuleles reading PLEASE TOUCH. Instead, it's a place where anyone, regardless of skill level, can experience the joy of making music free of charge. Which is exactly what San Francisco-based Flight Attendant Leo Daquioag had in mind when he opened the place in February under the umbrella of his non-profit Music for Life Foundation.

Raised in Honolulu, Leo created Music for Life six years ago as a way to use his free time to benefit the community that has meant so much to him. "I have a lot of downtime between trips," he says, "so I was looking for ways to stay busy. I started thinking about what I have to offer and how I could give back."

A lifelong musician (for what it's worth, back in high school, his rock group the Descendants won a Honolulu "Battle of Bands"), Leo had a pretty good idea of the direction he should go. "Music has always been in my life, so I figured I could use that passion to help others."

He began by recruiting area musicians to play fundraising events, like the one that he helped organize after the 2011 Fukushima earthquake in Japan, and worked with news outlets, educators and local residents to hold instrument donation drives in support of scholastic music programs. That's when he stumbled upon a find that has helped take his mission in a new direction.

United Airlines, San Francisco-based Flight Attendant Leo Daquioag

Last year, Leo was contacted by a local teacher who mentioned having a stockpile of unused `ukuleles at her elementary school. He soon discovered a similar trove on many campuses around Oahu. "Decades ago, the State of Hawaii put them in all of our public schools," he says. "Kids who grew up on the mainland learned to play the recorder and we learned to play the `ukulele. But when funding for music and arts programs was cut, they were put away in storage. The schools had all of these instruments, but they were in disrepair because they hadn't been played for years."

In a serendipitous twist, those same instruments had been made by Kamaka Ukulele, which is owned by the family of one of Leo's close friends, Chris Kamaka. Leo asked Chris for help refurbishing the `ukuleles, and another of his pals, ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro, volunteered to personally repair 100 of them while on tour. Together, they were committed to getting the instruments into the hands of students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to play.

At the same time, Mike Upton, owner of Kala Ukulele in Petaluma, California, found out about Leo's work and donated more than 2,000 of their beginner models for the project. Before long, Leo had enough to outfit the Play4M.E. center in addition to several schools.

"Music identifies a culture," he says. "When kids don't get the chance to participate in that, we lose some of our humanity. The next generation of doctors and scientists need to exercise the creative side of their brains, too."

On most afternoons and weekends the Play4M.E. space is awash with sound, as kids of all ages, oftentimes accompanied by their parents, learn to play the instrument that holds such a revered place in Hawaii. In his first brick-and-mortar endeavor, Leo has gone to great lengths to foster a creative, welcoming environment in which to bring music to the masses. In May, the center even hosted its "`Ukulebrity Series," with workshops by several well-known musicians, including Kalei Gamiao, Benny Chong and Taimane Gardner.

"In Hawaii we have this word, pono," Leo says. "Pono can mean showing love, showing aloha and showing support for the community because you love it. I like that word. With the Music for Life Foundation, we want to be vehicles for musicians, organizations and for other non-profits to show pono."

Looking back at a landmark year with Special Olympics

By Ryan Wilks, October 19, 2020

Earlier this summer, we shone a light on our flagship partnership with Special Olympics and our commitment to the Inclusion Revolution. In that same story, we introduced you to our four Special Olympics Service Ambassadors, Daniel, Kyle, Lauren and Zinyra (Z), who, this month, celebrate one year working at Chicago O'Hare International Airport as part of the United family.

This groundbreaking, inclusive employment program took off as a part of our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics, a community relationship that employees across the company hold close to heart. The original 'UA4' (as they call themselves) have become an integral part of the United team serving customers at O'Hare Airport. Even from behind their masks, their wide smiles and effervescent spirit exude and bring life to the service culture of excellence we strive towards every day.

"The UA4 are more than just customer service ambassadors. They are shining examples of how inclusion, accessibility and equity can have monumental impacts on the culture and service of a business and community," said Customer Service Managing Director Jonna McGrath. "They have forever changed who we are as a company. While they often talk about how United and this opportunity has changed their lives, they have changed ours in more ways than we can count."

In the two years of partnership with Special Olympics, United employees have volunteered over 10,500 hours of service at events around the world and donated over $1.2 million worth of travel to the organization.

"This inclusive employment program is what community partnerships, like ours with Special Olympics, are all about: collaborating to identify areas where the needs of the community intersect with the cultural and business opportunity, then creating the infrastructure and programming to bring the two together," said Global Community Engagement Managing Director Suzi Cabo. "Through this program, our goal is to show other companies that when you put a committed effort and focus towards inclusion and breaking down barriers, you transform lives. I challenge other business around the world to follow our lead in joining the Inclusion Revolution."

Check out the video below to hear from our Special Olympics Service Ambassadors firsthand.

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Spotlighting our own during Hispanic Heritage Month

By The Hub team, October 13, 2020

We celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 th through October 15th and take the time to recognize the important contributions of our colleagues of Hispanic descent in the United family.

This year, we hosted virtual events organized by our multicultural business resource group UNITE to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, covering topics ranging from immigration reform to Hispanic leadership. We're also taking a moment to highlight Latinx employees nominated by their peers for their contributions both at and outside of work.

These nominees have demonstrated leadership in their position and through their character. Take a moment to read their own words about how their background and heritage plays a role in the way they interact with customers, in how they support their colleagues and why it brings valuable perspective to their work.

Vania Wit – VP & Deputy Counsel

Photo of Vania Wit, VP & Deputy Counsel for United Airlines

"I am the Vice President and Deputy General Counsel in the legal department. I am an attorney and have worked in the legal department for over 21 years and am currently responsible for a number of different legal areas – such as litigation, international, commercial and government contracts, labor, employment and benefits, antitrust. I have the privilege of working with a tremendous team of attorneys who are directly leading and managing these areas. One of the things I like most about my job is simply getting to know the backgrounds and personal stories that everyone has about their paths to United or their passion for the industry. Being the daughter of immigrants from South America and growing up in a family who relies heavily on air travel to connect us to our close family and friends is an integral part of my story and what drew me to this industry and this company."

Kayra Martinez – International Flight Attendant, FRA

Photo of Kayra Martinez on board an aircraft

"I love that my work as a flight attendant brings me all over the world and allows me to connect with diverse people across the globe. Because of my Spanish heritage, I've been able to use my language as a way to connect with passengers, crew members and people from every nationality. In addition, my heritage gives me a very close connection to family, creating community and using inclusion as a way to bring people together. After transferring to Europe, I was able to study German, more Spanish, Italian and Arabic. Outside of work, I'm the director and founder of a nonprofit organization that empowers refugees through art. Hundreds of children and adults fleeing war-torn countries have found healing through my art workshops. These refugees are currently displaced in Greece. Their stunning paintings are then sold in art galleries and communities around the world, raising awareness and putting income directly into the hands of refugee artists."

Adriana Carmona – Program Manager, AO Regulatory Compliance

Photo of Adriana standing in front of a plane engine

"I've been incredibly lucky to have amazing leaders during my time at United who have challenged me from day one to think outside the box, step out of my comfort zone and trusted me to own and deliver on the tasks assigned. I think this sense of ownership is largely shaped by my Latino background, which values responsibility, respect and accountability and taking full charge of what's in your control to be able to deliver accordingly."

Harry Cabrera – Assistant Manager, AO Customer Service, IAH

Photo of Harry Cabrera

"My desire to help people is what drove me to start my career in Customer Service over two decades ago. Currently I provide support to our coworkers and customers at IAH , the gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean. As a Colombian native celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, I'm proud to see the strength that my fellow Latinos forge every day at United Airlines. Family values are a cornerstone of the Latin community; I consider my coworkers to be part of my extended family. Mentor support throughout the years gave me the opportunity to grow professionally. The desire to do better and help others succeed is part of that heritage. I collaborate with our Latin American operations and create ways to improve performance. No matter what language you speak, the passion for what you do and being approachable makes the difference in any interaction."

Juciaria Meadows – Assistant Regional Manager, Cargo Sales

Photo of Juciaria Meadows in a Cargo hold

"During my 28-year career, I've worked across the system in various frontline and leadership roles in Reservations, Customer Service and Passenger Sales in Brazil. I moved to the U.S. in 2012 to work as an Account Executive for Cargo. It did not take too long for me to learn that boxes and containers have as much a voice as a passenger sitting in our aircraft. My job is to foster relationships with shippers, freight forwarders, cosignees, etc. and build strong partnerships in fair, trustworthy and caring ways where United Cargo will be their carrier of choice. That's where my background growing up in a Latino family plays an important role in my day-to-day interactions. I've done many wonderful sales trainings provided by United and my academic background , but none of them taught me more than watching my parents running their wholesale food warehouse. Developing exceptional relationships with their customers, they always treated them with trust and respect. They were successful business people with a big heart, creative, always adding a personal touch to their business relationships and I find myself doing the same. It's a lesson that is deep in my heart."

Shanell Arevalo – Customer Service Representative, DEN

Photo of Shanell Arevalo at work

"I am Belizean and Salvadoran. At a young age my family moved to California from Belize. Although I grew up in the United States , one thing my parents taught me was to never forget the culture, values and principles I was raised on. This includes showing love, compassion, and respect to all people. We learned to put our best foot forward for any situation and always put our heart and mind into everything we do. In my position as a customer service agent, it's the difference of showing the love, compassion and respect to our passengers to show that this is not just a job but rather a passion of genuinely caring for our people. Being Latina, we are raised to always take care of our family, and the way I take care of passengers is the way I would take care of my family. If there's one way I know I can make a difference with our Spanish speaking passengers, it's being able to speak the language. The glow that comes over a passenger's face when they realize there's someone who can speak Spanish is absolutely an indescribable feeling. With that glow comes comfort and joy. The small comfort they get from knowing someone can connect with them makes all the difference in their experience."

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United Cargo responds to COVID-19 challenges, prepares for what's next

By The Hub team, September 30, 2020

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, United Cargo has supported a variety of customers within the healthcare industry for over 10 years. Three key solutions – TempControl, LifeGuard and QuickPak – protect the integrity of vital shipments such as precision medicine, pharmaceuticals, biologics, medical equipment and vaccines. By utilizing processes like temperature monitoring, thermodynamic management, and priority boarding and handling, United Cargo gives customers the peace of mind that their shipments will be protected throughout their journey.

With the global demand for tailored pharmaceutical solutions at an all-time high, we've made investments to help ensure we provide the most reliable air cargo options for cold chain shipping. In April this year, we became the first U.S. carrier to lease temperature-controlled shipping containers manufactured by DoKaSch Temperature Solutions. We continue to partner with state-of-the-art container providers to ensure we have options that meet our customers' ever-changing needs.

"Providing safe air cargo transport for essential shipments has been a top priority since the pandemic began. While the entire air cargo industry has had its challenges, I'm proud of how United Cargo has adapted and thrived despite a significant reduction in network capacity and supply," said United Cargo President Jan Krems. "We remain committed to helping our customers make it through the pandemic, as well as to doing everything we can to be prepared for the COVID-19 vaccine distribution when the time comes."

Our entire team continues to prioritize moving critical shipments as part of our commitment to supporting the global supply chain. We've assembled a COVID readiness task team to ensure we have the right people in place and are preparing our airports as we get ready for the industry-wide effort that comes next.

In cooperation with our partners all over the world, United Cargo has helped transport nearly 145 million pounds of medical supplies to aid in the fight against COVID-19, using a combination of cargo-only flights and passenger flig­hts. To date, United Cargo has operated more than 6,300 cargo-only flights and has transported more than 213 million pounds of cargo worldwide.

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