Fulfilling Our Mission Amid COVID-19

…in the Community

Da’Monique L. is a single mother who four years ago moved from Cleveland to Charlotte, N.C., to give her daughter Erica a better life. She was banking on living with family until she could get on her feet, but that didn’t work out. She worked three jobs, was a full-time mother — and she and Erica have been homeless off and on for the last four years.

Enter Community Link, who gave De’Monique a fresh start and was “a dream come true.” Her biggest challenge was finding affordable housing, and the agency set them up in “a lovely apartment” and is providing rental assistance. Take a few moments to watch this award-winning video of Da’Monique’s journey.

…to Assist Travelers

Travelers Aid at Washington Union Station assisted a couple who were driving from Philadelphia to their home in Mississippi. Unfortunately, the engine in their car overheated when they were passing through Washington, D.C., and the vehicle was undriveable. They spent hundreds of dollars on lodging while

waiting for the car to be repaired — which never happened — so they had no car, and no money. Travelers Aid was able to verify their residency and the male’s employment in Biloxi, then provided transportation via Greyhound bus so the very grateful couple could return home.

TAI Elects Randall Brater as New Board Chair

The membership of Travelers Aid International at its annual meeting on June 19 elected Randall Brater, an attorney with the Washington, D.C., law firm of Arent Fox, as its chair for the 2020-2021 year. David Sinski, vice president and executive director of Chicago’s Heartland Human Care Services, was elected as first vice chair, the position formerly held by Brater.

Former Board Chair Floyd Davis, head of Community Link in Charlotte, N.C., will serve as Board treasurer, and C-Span attorney Bruce Collins will take over the position of secretary.

Newly elected lay members of the Board are Scott Elmore, vice president- communications and marketing for Airports Council International-North America; David Fleming, retired attorney and Washington Dulles International Airport TAI volunteer, and Rosemary Sheridan, VP-communications and marketing at the American Public Transportation Association.

In other action at the membership meeting, outgoing Chair Floyd Davis gave an update on the organization’s 2019-2022 Strategic Plan, implemented in early 2019. He reported positive progress on each of the plan’s three main goals: achieving financial sustainability, expanding membership and strengthening TAI in general to support all programs.

TAI President and CEO Kathleen Baldwin summar ized financial reports for the organization, detailing the balance sheet as of May 31, 2020, and its profit and loss statement for the year July 2019 through May 2020, which showed a net income of nearly $259,000.

The Board also recognized and honored the service of Susan B. Perry, a member of the Board first elected in 2001 and finishing her final term on June 30. (See the tribute to Perry later in this issue of Journeys.)

Working from Home? IAD TAI Volunteers Have Been!

Travelers Aid International has been helping passengers at Washington Dulles International Airport since 1962, a streak that is still going strong. Though the pandemic forced the organization to close its information desks for several months, it did not disrupt the group’s mission to assist travelers. Since mid- March, a corps of

dedicated volunteers has been answering questions about airport dining, duty- free shopping and other travel issues — from their kitchens, dining rooms and sun rooms.

To read the full article, click here.

JFK Volunteer Spotlights — Alicia Behn

Alicia Behn’s desire to make a difference in other’s lives led her to Travelers Aid at JFK Airport, where she has served for the past five years. Her love for travel— the Caribbean is one of her most favorite places — and personal experiences in her life have set her up as an awesome resource for travelers and visitors. Travelers Aid at JFK has been the perfect setting to share all of her knowledge and enthusiasm for every type of adventure.

After a long career as an administrative secretary in the engineering industry, Alicia retired in 2014. She had the opportunity to work in the chemical/petrochemical and civil engineering fields, and with various departments helping with startups, operations, project management, finance and accounting. Her work allowed her to travel and she enjoyed seeing many parts of the world.

Alicia’s commitment has not wavered during the pandemic, and she has embraced the quiet, empty terminals with a determined and positive approach. It is not unusual to see her leading a single traveler or a family to another terminal, the AirTrain, or the restroom, making sure they are cared for and supported. Her boundless energy is evident in all of her actions, even if she is simply sharing silly emails or links to events and opportunities in NYC. Finding the good in all and encouraging exploration and discovery are core to Alicia’s well-being, as she also makes time to volunteer with Encore Community Services’ senior center and the USO at JFK Airport.

. . .and Valeria Bobbin

Valeria is used to being on the move and doesn’t mind her hour commute north of New York City to spend time serving travelers as a Travelers Aid volunteer at JFK Airport.

Valeria’s father was a Marine Corps aviator with the U.S. Navy and she knows about moving around. Born in Pensacola, Florida, Valeria has lived in California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Rhode Island, Virginia, Stuttgart, Germany, and Paris. Her sophomore year of high school was in California, her junior year in Virginia and her senior year in Germany. She

attended university in Paris, where she received an associate degree in French, then returned to the U.S., where she completed her college degree at the University of Rhode Island, and later went on to earn a master’s degree in speech language pathology from Columbia University.

Valeria worked for a short time with the Hilton Corporation as a conference coordinator, but aviation called to her, so when Pan American World Airways invited her to interview for a flight attendant position, she delightedly joined their team. She was based out of JFK, and “courtesy of the passengers and Pan Am,” Valeria traveled the world. Only when her two children with husband Greg arrived did Valeria take a leave of absence, She then returned to speech pathology, providing support to patients with traumatic brain injuries.

JFK is Valeria’s “alternate command post” and always remarks about “the incredible honor” of helping people and colleagues as a volunteer with Travelers Aid.

Drive-In Movie Anyone?

Several hundred cars were parked in Lot 5 at Ontario International Airport on Friday night, June 19, but their owners were not there to embark on a trip – they were there to see a movie.

“Drive-in Movie Night” was a big hit, featuring Ford vs. Ferrari as the
first of four movies to be shown in the airport’s parking lot this summer. Billed as a new, socially distanced way to watch movies outside the home during the coronavirus pandemic, people were treated to the 2019 racing car motion picture on two 50-foot screens from inside their vehicles. Food trucks were also on site for refreshments.

Due to COVID-19, the city had to cancel its Fourth of July parade and fireworks show, as well as concerts and summer movies in the park.

Tickets for the next movie, “The Sandlot,” which screens July 3, were gone in one hour, said Dan Bell, Ontario city spokesman. The city, ONT and Street Food Cinema are producing this unique entertainment venue free of
charge, but each car must reserve a space in advance via the Internet.

Staff Spotlight — Mary Kate Doherty

Mary Kate joined the Travelers Aid family in October 2018 as the first program manager at TAI’s newest airport location, Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn.

Prior to TAI, Mary Kate worked for 20 years as a volunteer manager and fundraiser for a number of non-profit health organizations, including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, American Cancer Society and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.

Mary Kate loves getting to know all the volunteers and helping to make connections among them, whether it be trading recommendations on books or movies or sharing travel tips. Her favorite volunteer events have been the volunteer potluck picnic and holiday cookie swap, both providing a great opportunity for everyone to meet volunteers from different days/shifts.

A graduate of the University of Vermont, Mary Kate had what she describes as a life-changing opportunity to spend her junior year abroad at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England. About 25% of the university’s enrollment was international students, which allowed Mary Kate to meet individuals from all over Europe, Asia and the Middle East. This reinforced in her a love of travel and other cultures. Her favorite days at Bradley International Airport are when the Aer Lingus flight arrives from Ireland, a place she has visited multiple times and looks forward to returning to again and again!

In her spare time, Mary Kate enjoys hiking and nature photography and hanging out with her 10 nieces and nephews. She jokingly refers to herself as their “corruptor in chief” and her “auntie adventure days” include hiking, mini golf, trips to the beach, nerf gun wars, and everything in between!

A Pioneer of Service — Susan B. Perry

Originally from New Jersey, Susan B. Perry landed on Capitol Hill in 1965, joining the staff of Sen. Eugene McCarthy. She spent the next 35 years as a lobbyist for organizations such as the American Public Transportation Association and the American Bus Association. . . .

. . . .and the past 18 years as a member of the TAI Board of Directors.

“I met Susan in 2005, when I first joined the Travelers Aid International Board,” recalls TAI President and CEO Kathleen Baldwin. “But I really got to know her in 2008, when she was TAI chair and we were in Honolulu for the annual conference. We bonded over Portuguese doughnuts.”

Susan’s many contributions to TAI, aside from her long-term service and very generous financial support of the organization over the years, include:

  • Two years as Board chair
  • Two years as Board secretary
  • Two years as Nominating Committee chair
  • Recruitment of three Board members — David Fleming, Pam Bosworth and Rosemary Sheridan

And in her spare time, Susan started ushering for the Washington Nationals, when baseball finally returned to the nation’s capital in 2005 — until this year.

Last but not least, in the “above and beyond” category, Susan was “a major reason I could take on my current position,” Baldwin said. “She gave me a place to stay for my first year, which represented a major cost savings for TAI and contributed toward our financial stability goal in the Strategic Plan. She also was a great comfort to me.”

Thank you for your many years of service, Susan (her final term ends June 30). TAI is a much richer organization because of you!


The Travelers Aid International Annual Conference Committee and staff continue to move full steam ahead with the planning of the 2020 TAI Annual Conference, set for Sept. 9-11 at the TWA Hotel on the grounds of JFK International Airport. We’ve already got a fabulous agenda in the works with a plethora of expert and engaging speakers, so mark your calendars now! More details to come soon.

We Need Your News!

We are always on the lookout for interesting news about your organization! E-mail ellen@travelersaid.org with any and all items you would like to be considered for the monthly TAI newsletter.