As passenger volume at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) continues to steadily increase, the airport is seeking to expand its team of Volunteer Navigators who assist the growing number of travelers returning to the skies. On April 28, the airport hosted its first-ever Open House to bring awareness to the program, recruit new volunteers, meet PHL’s leadership team, and recognize the current volunteers for their steadfast dedication and thank them for their hours served.
“The airport is always looking for enthusiastic people to join PHL’s Volunteer Navigators,” said Leah Douglas, Director of Guest Experience. Beverly Coleman is a new team member who attended the open house and signed up for the program. She retired from her job 14 years ago and has been looking for a volunteer opportunity that suited her personality. “I was searching online for something to do, something that would help people and keep me excited to show up,” she said.
An avid worldwide traveler, Coleman said that she’s always loved PHL and reminisced on how she would come here as a child to pick up family members when they visited. She was fascinated watching the airplanes as they arrived and departed.
Coleman spent the open house touring the airport and meeting other volunteers to gain perspective on the importance of being a Volunteer Navigator. She also met the leadership team, including CEO Chellie Cameron and CAO Delicsha Wilds. Coleman decided on the spot that this was the place for her to volunteer.
PHL’s Volunteer Navigator program is managed by Christine Datesman of Travelers Aid International. Datesman knows that the volunteers are a large part of what makes PHL special. She has skillfully trained the volunteers who are stationed at Information Counters and who also walk the airport to help guests find their flights, retrieve a lost item, and to ensure that passengers feel welcome and at ease while at PHL.
The Volunteer Navigators also include students from several Philadelphia high schools who earn course credits for the time they spend at the airport. Many of the students are on the autistic spectrum and volunteering at PHL has helped them develop their social skills. One student said, “I’m not as nervous speaking to people anymore, because I get to talk to so many individuals while I’m here. The airport is a big place, sometimes people get confused. We help them.”
Volunteers are asked to work at least one four-hour shift a week, from 8 a.m.-12 p.m., 12 p.m.-4 p.m., or 4 p.m.-8 p.m. If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering at PHL, contact Christine Datesman at 215-460-1400 or visit phl.org/volunteers.