By Gordon Williams
If responding to disasters is all you think about when you think about the American Red Cross, you are overlooking one of the organization’s most important functions — Service to the Armed Forces (SAF). Each year the Red Cross provides assistance to an average of 150,000 service members, active and retired, and their families.
That assistance includes bringing military families together in times of crisis, and helping those families adapt to the stresses of military life. Among the corporate donors whose giving supports the Red Cross SAF function is Boeing, the aerospace giant which has a large footprint in the Seattle area.
Armando Mejia is a community investor on Boeing’s Global Engagement Team. In that role he implements the company’s charitable giving and community engagement strategies in the Puget Sound area. The Red Cross Northwest Region includes Washington and north Idaho, putting it well within Mejia’s target area. Military facilities are numerous across the region, including Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Navy Base Kitsap and Submarine Base Bangor in Bremerton, Fairchild Air Force Base at Spokane and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
There are natural ties between Boeing and the Red Cross. The Red Cross is a major supporter of the armed forces, while Boeing is a major supporter of veterans and their families following their military service. Mejia himself spent more than 11.5 years in the Army and was severely injured while serving in Iraq. He had many contacts with the Red Cross during his time in the Army. “On a personal level, the Red Cross was always there when I needed them,” he says.
Read: Armado Mejia biography on Boeing.com
As to why Boeing supports the Red Cross, Mejia says, “We are impressed by the impact the Red Cross makes on our community — not just here in Washington, but wherever Boeing is located.
They are always there for the military, the veterans and their families.”
Part of Boeing’s charitable giving involves monetary donations. Becky Fontaine, the Red Cross worker who connects directly with Boeing, says the company donated $45,000 to SAF last year and $50,000 this year.
She says the donations go to funding the resiliency programs the Red Cross runs for service members and their families, helping them adapt to the stresses of military life. Money from Boeing also helps pay for Red Cross Veterans Alliances — social gatherings where veterans can meet with one another.
Fontaine says she works closely with Boeing, advising them when a special effort comes along.
One such special effort is the help the Red Cross has provided to victims of the fighting in Ukraine. In years past, Fontaine says that Boeing has donated to support Red Cross efforts to help victims of such large events as flooding.
Beyond what Boeing donates as a corporation, its employees are encouraged to donate time and money to support worthy causes. In 2021, Boeing employees donated $197 million and volunteered 290,000 hours of their time to charitable organizations. Employee donations to qualifying nonprofits are matched dollar-for-dollar by the company.
Mejia reiterated that Boeing is deeply passionate about supporting our military veterans and their families. “I’m so very proud of the service and sacrifice of thousands of my colleagues,” he said. “Approximately 15% of our workforce here in Washington state – and across the country – are veterans.”
Partnering with Fontaine of the Red Cross is not the first time Mejia has served his local community. After leaving military service in 2008, he was military outreach director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, followed by two years working with the Army’s Wounded Warriors program at Lewis-McChord. Next came seven years with the Seattle Seahawks football team, leading outreach efforts to the region’s military and Latino communities. He took his present position at Boeing in 2018.