How nonprofits are using miles for good
If you’re a frequent traveler, you probably have some extra miles in your MileagePlus account. You could save them up for United Polaris seats to your dream destination, but you can also get that Champagne-in-first-class feeling by using your miles to help someone else.
Since 2019, more than 92 million donated miles have allowed nonprofits to support communities across the world. Here are two of those stories.
Lighting the Way in Malawi
The organization: Watts of Love is a global nonprofit that empowers communities that are struggling with poverty and lack reliable access to safe lighting. The organization brings safe solar lights to these communities and works with them to develop financial independence and leadership.
The miles: Watts of Love has raised 3,749,080 miles and used 1,103,000 miles.
The impact: This January, Watts of Love used miles for team members to fly to Malawi’s Lilongwe-Kamuzu Airport. In Malawi, elephants regularly destroy people’s homes and crops, so Watts of Love gave communities solar-powered strobe lights to ward off elephants and predatory animals at night. These solar lights have also allowed residents to keep their stores open later at night, work outdoors longer, and spend their evenings focusing on education.
“Though we focus on financial literacy and lighting homes, because of our partnership with United we’ve been able to reduce CO 2 emissions by about 1,300 tons,” says Watts of Love CEO Nancy Economou. “People are no longer burning candles, coal, kerosene, or spear grass, but instead using a renewable energy source to light their homes.”
Supporting COVID-19Affected Communities
The organization: Project HOPE is a global organization based in Washington, D.C., that helps local healthcare workers save lives around the world.
The miles: Project HOPE has raised 2,024,954 miles and used 1,913,800 miles.
The impact: Project HOPE volunteers include both retired medical professionals and full-time healthcare workers who are willing to give up their free time to continue caring for patients. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Project HOPE has used miles to send medical volunteers to Chicago, Houston, and Shiprock, New Mexico, in the Navajo Nation. Volunteers have tested people for COVID-19, treated patients in ICUs, conducted contact tracing, and administered vaccines.
“The staff at the Northern Navajo Medical Center was wonderful but greatly overstretched,” says Beryl Brooks, a Project HOPE volunteer nurse. “We were able to lighten the workload of the nursing staff, which enabled the patients to receive more personalized daily hours of care and more personalized care as a result. People hospitalized with COVID-19 are very sick and need frequent interventions to improve outcomes. I believe that our being there helped that happen.”
How to Donate
Please visit donate.mileageplus.com to find a cause that speaks to you.
Next Up: Giving His All