PUPs volunteers and their therapy dogs spread good cheer at LAX

PUPs volunteers and their therapy dogs spread good cheer at LAX

Need help getting around the airport? There’s a volunteer for that.

LAX celebrated the fifth anniversary of its Volunteer Information Professionals (VIP) program on July 10 with a banquet at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Culver City.

More than 300 VIP program members help travelers have a positive experience at LAX by providing directions, finding transportation, suggesting sightseeing attractions and facilitating communications between distressed passengers and airlines.

Recognizable by their red vests or jackets, VIPs can be found at information booths on the arrivals level of each terminal and sometimes also in the baggage claim area and by exits. They are available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.

About 50 of the volunteers facilitate the LAX Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUP) program, roaming the departure levels with therapy dogs to impart information and good cheer. PUP volunteers and their dogs are registered with a national organization that also provides visits to hospitals, special needs centers, schools and nursing homes.

Since the VIP program began in 2011, volunteers have logged a combined 200,000 hours while assisting more than 7 million travelers.

About 280 volunteers attended the recent gala, which included dinner, dancing and music by the Baba Elefante Jazz Trio.

Los Angeles Board of Airports Commissioner Val Velasco presented a City of Los Angeles resolution to highlight the program’s success.

The event also honored Dolly Williams for 20 years of service in the VIP program as well as the most senior volunteer, Richard Stout, who will turn 96 in October.

— Regan Kibbee

To become a VIP, visit lawa.org/vip.