Photo by Heather Middleton
By M.J. Subiria Arauz
Those willing to dedicate their time to the world's busiest airport
by volunteering got a hardy "thank you" from Hartsfield-Jackson
Approximately 50 volunteers participate in the Hartsfield-Jackson
Host Volunteers Program, some having done so for as long as 16 years,
said Jan Lister, customer service administrator for the Department of
Aviation at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Lister
said she oversees the Hartsfield-Jackson Host Volunteers Program.
Hartsfield-Jackson hosted the "Hartsfield Host 15th Annual Awards
Luncheon" at the airport last week. The luncheon lasted more than an
hour, and included a buffet, and awards and prizes for about 40
volunteers who were present.
Lister explained that though the volunteer program has been around
for 16 years, the first awards luncheon occurred during the second
year of the program.
Airport officials in attendance at the awards luncheon included Louis
Miller, aviation general manager at Hartsfield-Jackson, and Arnaldo
Ruiz, assistant general manager for commercial development and
"People who are volunteering are committed to make things happen,"
said Miller, during his presentation at the event.
Miller said he has volunteered for The Salvation Army, and considers
the act of giving one's time willingly a very important gesture. He
said he also volunteered to join the military after he graduated from
high school in 1965. "I wouldn't have been who I am today, if I
wouldn't have done that," said Miller.
Gwen Denham, a volunteer for the program, said she considers the
awards event special and is pleased the airport takes time to
recognize the volunteers.
"I think we do a lot for them," said Denham. "A little payback is good."
Mohamed Hussein, a two-year volunteer with the program, was enjoying
his meal before the awards luncheon began. For Hussein, the event was
well organized and "perfect."
Hussein said he participates in the program because, "I like to help
Richard LaPlante said he has volunteered for 780 weeks and enjoys
every minute of it. "I like greeting the soldiers as they come in,"
Customer Service Administrator Lister said the volunteers provide
their services to the airport without asking for anything in return,
and the annual awards luncheon recognizes their efforts. "It's the
one time of year we can give something back to them," she said. "They
don't expect anything and they are very loyal."
"Spotlight Award" certificates were awarded for a variety of reasons,
including longevity of service, and recognition from a passenger
through a written letter. There were also door prizes, as well as
awards such as gift cards and boxed pen sets, given to volunteers
based on the number of hours they contributed to the program.
Lister added that the program has become more important since recent
budget cutbacks. Volunteers are stationed in areas such as the
transportation mall and baggage claim areas, which were covered by
customer care representatives, who are paid employees at Hartsfield-
Jackson. Customer care representatives are focusing more on crowd
control and security checkpoint areas, she explained.
Customer care representatives at Hartsfield-Jackson are hired by
Airport Employment and Training Center, Inc., a staffing agency that
screens and hires employees for ICS Contract Services, the company
responsible for the management of the representatives at the airport.
"The Independent Sector, a non-profit that provides resources to help
volunteers improve their organizations and better serve their
communities, has been calculating the value of volunteer time since
1980," said Lister. "The estimated dollar value of volunteer time for
the year 2010 is $21.36 per hour, up from $20.85 in 2009."
She said that according to airport records, volunteers logged in
7,408 hours last year. At $21.36 per hour, the airport would have
paid $158,234.88 for their services, she added.
Lister said the program began in 1996, to coincide with the Atlanta
1996 Summer Olympic Games. Due to its success, the customer-care
representative program began at Hartsfield-Jackson in 1998, she said.
The volunteers are responsible for relaying information to passengers
about various areas of the airport, including ground transportation,
concessions, airlines and security issues, said Lister. Volunteers
are also knowledgeable about the Atlanta area.
Volunteers can be found at the information desk, transportation mall,
security checkpoint areas, baggage claim and Concourse E, she said.
"They've really come through in the clutches," Lister said of the
For more information about the Hartsfield-Jackson Host Volunteers
Program, contact the Landside Operations Customer Care Program, at