The airline has teamed up with the state of California in an initiative to help the elderly.

By Alison Fox
April 27, 2020
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Courtesy of United Airlines

United Airlines employees who currently aren't flying due to coronavirus restrictions, are using their extra time on the ground to chat with senior citizens as part of a new California initiative.

In an effort to help homebound and isolated seniors, about 300 United Airlines employees from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose will be making weekly wellness calls to check on seniors. The calls are being done in partnership with Listos California, a campaign focused on disaster preparedness for vulnerable residents, and the California Department of Aging.

"Our shared purpose at United is connecting people and uniting the world, and during these unprecedented times that has never been more important,” Janet Lamkin, United Airlines’ California president, said in a statement, adding: “We are profoundly grateful to all of our compassionate employees who will be using their experience and training to bring some much-needed comfort to our state's most vulnerable residents during these difficult times."

In total, more than 1,000 callers will participate in the program, called the Social Bridging Project.

“The most important way for older Californians to stay safe is to stay at home,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “These programs will provide older, vulnerable Californians with…the opportunity to connect with someone who can listen to their concerns and make sure their needs are met. We are all in this together and we will continue to support older Californians who are more at risk during this public health emergency.”

California has recorded more than 42,000 cases of COVID-19, including more than 1,700 deaths, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The initiative is part of a larger effort to support seniors in their homes, including having restaurants deliver meals, supporting both older residents who need food and restaurants that have lost business.

As part of the programs, California is also promoting a hotline ((888) 670-1360) that lonely or isolated residents are encouraged to call for support.

This isn’t United’s first effort to utilize its staff and equipment to help as the country battles COVID-19. The airline has flown medical workers to hard-hit areas -- a cause other airlines have taken up as well -- flown Americans home who were stranded abroad, produced alcohol-based hand sanitizer at a maintenance center, and is working to transform an empty cargo facility into a food distribution center.

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