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Take Off Talk

Distance can be a major barrier to accessing quality healthcare in a timely manner. For patients, access to air transportation can make all the difference in getting the treatment they need. However, flights can be expensive, and putting off medical care because of costs can put you or your loved ones at risk. That's where Angel Flight East comes in.

Welcome to Take Off Talk with Angel Flight East, a nonprofit dedicated to facilitating free air transportation for children and adults with medical conditions who need treatment far from home. Our organization covers a 14 state footprint from Virginia to Ohio to Maine and for further distances, we partner with other public benefit flying organizations.  No matter how many times you need to get to your medical treatment or see a loved one in need, we are here to help. Unfortunately, few people know about free services like ours, and thus cannot use them when needed. We don't know how many people forgo medical care because they don't have accessible transportation, and that's what this podcast is here to change.

Angels Among Us: Honoring Our Volunteer, Linda Pizzi

Take Off Talk with Angel Flight East | Linda Pizzi | Angel Flight Volunteer

What better episode to have in this month of love than with a person we love so much? Join us today as we celebrate Valentine's Day and our very own Maddy Beck’s birthday week with the incredible Linda Pizzi, our office mom. Linda, the driving force behind many of our projects, shares her journey with Angel Flight East—from her initial exposure at a gala to becoming an indispensable part of our team. She sheds light on her current project, reaching out to fire departments and rural communities to spread awareness about Angel Flight's vital services. Tune in to discover the heartwarming stories and laughter that fill our office, and learn how Linda's dedication and positivity make Angel Flight East soar even higher.

 

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Watch the episode here

 

Listen to the podcast here

 

You're here with me, Maddie and Jess. We have our office mom, Linda, with us.

We are so excited to have you here because this is going to be released on Maddie's birthday week, so we thought we would feature the person we love the most, you.

That's so sweet.

Linda, one feeds our bad habits by bringing us margaritas and keeping us in line on literally everything. You name the project and we can just say, “Mom, we have a problem,” and she gets it done. How about we start out with what your project is that you're doing for us?

I am helping out with rural outreach. I am contacting fire departments. I'm doing Vermont. I just finished Pennsylvania and I’m letting them know what we do here at Angel Flight. We are asking them to get in contact with us so that we can give them some more information on trying to bring people together, people who need medical treatments far from home who generally have to find their own way of getting there. With Angel Flight, it's a no-brainer. You have pilots who are willing to take them as many times as they need. That's the last thing you want to have to worry about when you're child is sick or you're sick and you're trying to figure out, “How am I getting to Boston?” Angel Flight takes care of that.

 

Take Off Talk with Angel Flight East | Linda Pizzi | Angel Flight Volunteer

 

She's the extension of our outreach department. The outreach department is only Maddie and I so she's our honorary third member. How did you find Angel Flight and how did we suck you into our world?

A number of years ago, a friend of my husband's of mine invited us to one of the Angel Flight galas. In listening to the pilots and what they do, I was like, “I have to be a part of that. I want to be able to help people, especially when people and their children are sick.” It's just an amazing thing that the pilots do here. People think that there's a catch somewhere. They think, “It can't be free. There has to be there has to be some kind of catch. They don't do this for nothing.” They absolutely do it for nothing. It’s their time, their planes, and gas. They ask for nothing, they receive nothing, and they do it out of the goodness of their heart, which is amazing.

How many years have we swindled you now? You are here you are here actually when I came in for my interview, which was in 2018.

That was pre-COVID. Everything's related to COVID now.

I don't remember what you first started with. I think it was something outreach-related.

When I first started, Sandra was here. She had me calling hospitals and trying to get hold of social workers. That didn't go very well only because social workers are busy. They can't take phone calls. We decided we would do either with emails, postcards, or something like that just because they didn't have time to answer phones and I understand that. That was the first start of the outreach.

You did the project that took you multiple years of contacting every church within our footprint. What you would think those would have a bigger return on all the time you spent like churches and congregations. It would be a pretty easily spread message about what we do. I want to say you probably got ten responses.

Thousands of emails and thousands of postcards we sent out. Part of the issue is it is rural areas. A lot of those when I was researching the churches looked like there was 1 pastor for 6 churches, so I don't know how easily it was for them to work with.

You don't just do office work. You also are with us at every event we put on from set up to break down.

When Jess had been with me at Wings N' Wheels, Linda became me and I became Jess. I tell everybody that Linda did more work than I did that day. Every time I went to go do something, it was, “Linda already did that.” I'm like, “Okay. I'll just be here. Let me know if you need something.”

My husband always says, “You should make it easier on your boss. You're there to make life easier. Try to hit what's going wrong before it gets to the boss.” That's what I tried to do that day.

 

"You should make it easier on your boss. You're there to make life easier."

 

I got 20,000 steps in that day so I was excited and then the rain came.

There was so much rain. The Wings N' Wheels ended it at 4:25. It was a downpour. We loaded as many people as we could into a two-door truck cab and we were huddled and hiding.

I was thinking of you guys while I was drinking. Don't worry. I knew you had it all under control, which you did.

We only had to call Jess twice.

I didn't realize she called you twice.

I definitely know I had to call her once or maybe you called me because somebody was looking for me but called you.

I think it was the buses that went to the wrong address.

That was the problem. I like to block that out.

Other than that, Linda just does anything we ask her. She's also an expert envelope stuffer and we love it because all of her stamps and labels are perfectly done. It makes our OCD happy.

That is one of my favorite jobs. People look at me and think I'm crazy, but that is one of my favorite jobs, to stuff things.

We aren't complaining because we usually end up covered in the glue stick that has to seal it shut and everything gets stuck to everything. There are just envelopes everywhere. It's not fun for us, so we're very happy that you love that job.

The one time I saw her getting water out of our water jug was on a paper towel and I was like, “What are you doing?” That's how she stuffed envelopes, old-time.

I love it. How many days a week do you come in typically to Angel Flight?

I try to do two. Sometimes I do three. Sometimes I do one. In the summer, I do zero because I'm not around.

Linda's a seasonal employee.

What do you think would be your favorite part about Angel Flight and working in the office?

Why is it us?

I got to say it's you two girls because you definitely keep me going.

We keep you young.

You do keep me young. I just like coming in because the work that you do is unbelievable, like having the amount of pilots who are willing to fight people around and getting the word out as we have, although I know we need to try to do more and get the word out. It's just an amazing organization. It does so much good in times when people don't think about, “My child's sick and I need to get them to Boston. I'm going to drive them.” People just do it because you have to do it and they don't know that this is available. For this to be available to do is amazing. When I'm out and somebody says, “My father's sick. This one's sick. Do they need to go far from home?” they're looking at me. I go, “I have this organization, Angel Flight East. Go check the mail. They do this work. It's no cost to you. They have pilots who will fly you if you have to go to Boston, Cincinnati, or wherever.”

Linda is our biggest cheerleader. First, she finds us everything that we need in office things literally down to forks, knives, and spoons.

We didn't have any forks and Linda finally had to go to the store and buy us forks.

Even patience. She literally does it all. What advice would you give anybody who is thinking about volunteering with any work organization or best practices for dealing with Jess and me on a daily basis?

People will love to hear that advice.

That's what I was thinking. She's the only one who faces our personalities.

Like I said before, it's a wonderful organization. When I went to that gala, I absolutely fell in love with it. I know there are other organizations that do wonderful things, too, but for me, this is the start of it. This is how people get their medical treatment. This is the onset. I know there are organizations that help pay bills and mortgages and things like that, but you have to be able to get to your medical treatment. That's step one. You guys get them there. It's amazing. I just think it's a great organization. I always have lots of fun with you two girls here. We laugh the whole time we're here, even though we're not in the same office anymore. It is fun being here. You're dealing with sad situations, especially when you hear the kids and the babies that need treatment and things like that. There's also light-heartedness and lots of laughter. You have that laughter even in times of sorrow.

 

Take Off Talk with Angel Flight East | Linda Pizzi | Angel Flight Volunteer

Angel Flight Volunteer: Angel Flight is how people get to their medical treatment. This is the onset.

 

What do you do when you're not hanging out with us and laughing?

I do work part-time for our church. With the church, I actually help them out. I do office work in the church, but then they have an organization of people that need car rides to doctor's offices or physical therapy or you got to run to the store or something. I help out with that. Angel Flight helped instill that in me that people need help. They need to get places. Not everybody has a car. You think everybody has a car and they can get places, but they can't. They need help, too, so I help out with that.

 

Take Off Talk with Angel Flight East | Linda Pizzi | Angel Flight Volunteer

 

You're not cheating on us with any other nonprofit?

Seriously, we have been emotionally damaged by others.

I guess I do more what an Uber or Lyft do. That's what I do.

We'll let that one go then.

As long as you're not fully cheating on us.

We take those things very seriously around here. It’s only a partial cheat.

We'll let it slide only because you're still helping people. What would you give as a final thought to readers?

 

"There are lots of things that you can do. Put yourself out there. There are always things that you can help out with, and it's very satisfying."

 

Everybody wants to say, “What can I do for somebody?” There are lots of organizations out there. There are lots of things that you can do. Put yourself out there. Go to your church. Go to hospitals. There are always things that you can help out with. It's very satisfying. It really is.

Definitely. From a nonprofit perspective, we couldn't do everything we did without volunteers like Linda because Maddie and I are only two people and Angel Flight covers fourteen states. Linda helps us be in all those states we cover when we can't. We are always so appreciative of what you do, even though we like to roast you sometimes. We gave Linda a list of questions for our interview and she typed up the answers and had some sitting in front of us.

 

Take Off Talk with Angel Flight East | Linda Pizzi | Angel Flight Volunteer

 

I’m over 60. I'm a Baby Boomer. My mind is not the same anymore.

She came into our office and we could see the papers hanging out of her purse and I was like, “I know exactly what that is.”

Girl Scout Linda. Mom, what other names do we have for you?

We want to remind everybody that we asked Linda to be honored because of how much work she does as well and she said no.

I said no.

We've literally said this to Linda. We're like, “We are so appreciative of everything that you do. We wouldn't be able to do half of the things that we get done without you. We want to honor you at that.” She said no.

 

Take Off Talk with Angel Flight East | Linda Pizzi | Angel Flight Volunteer

 

It was like a hard no too. I was like, “Maybe if you go home and talk to Jim about it, it will be a yes.” She came back the next day. It was like, “It's a no.”

Yes, Jim said no too. We like to go the low level, just under the radar.

We're still upset with you both. Instead, you just get more jobs from us.

You are getting this grudge maybe by the summer.

We’ll think about it.

Thank you, everybody, for reading Linda's story. Thank you, Linda, for giving us a story and being a part of our own story as well. We will see you guys next episode.

 

Interested in helping more episodes... Take Off? 

Consider sponsoring episodes! For more information, please contact Jess at jessames@angelflighteast.org.

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