Sixty-five years ago, three remarkable women — Carol Montell Harlin, Doris Coughlin Self and Claire Ward Westhafer — met in New York to talk about their “flying days.”
Word was sent out and at a meeting late in 1954, former Eastern Air Lines flight attendants who were interested in retaining old and gaining new friendships and raising moneys for charitable purposes met. The meeting resulted in the establishment of one of the most unusual organizations in the world, the Silverliners.
By 1968, the four independent chapters came together to become the National Silverliners.
The meeting of the New York, New Jersey, Miami and Atlanta chapters was held in Atlanta.
In 1974, 20 years from that first meeting, the Mexico chapter was added and became the International Silverliners. At this time, current flight attendants were welcomed into the membership.
Over the years, the international charity fund was formed. Through this commitment over $1 million was raised for the The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp, funding a new cabin plus needed resources for other purchases. Over the years, chapters and individual members have helped raise thousands of dollars for their chapter charities and spent thousands of hours helping others by working as volunteers while enjoying each other’s company at chapter meetings, international board meetings and international conventions.
In 2019, the Silverliners celebrated their 65th anniversary — 65 years of fundraising, fun and friendship. Silverliners was “rebranded” as “Silverliners International — founded by Eastern Air Lines flight attendants” and welcomed all former and current flight attendants from over 54 airlines as well as any airline employee who has worked for an airline. Silverliners now represents over 50 airlines, 25 chapters throughout the United States and nearly 500 members.
The local Silverliners chapter consists of 29 members from various airlines like Eastern Air Lines, United Air Lines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Iberia Airlines, Continental Airlines, Rich International, Cayman Airlines, Miami Air and Northwest Airlines. One of the members is a survivor of the Eastern Air Line’s Flight 401 crash in the Everglades in 1972.
GMIA Silverliners are a non-profit philanthropic organization nurturing friendship, camaraderie between members. We stand for good friendships, maintenance of high standards and serving our communities.
The charities sponsored are:
The Paul Newman Hole In The Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, CT — were they offer weeklong residential camp sessions for seriously ill children ages 7-15 and their siblings.
Children’s Caring Cancer Center — which provides 100 percent free total-care programs for children with cancer who do not have the financial means for medical care. No child is turned down, no matter the cost.
Smile Train — persons needing lifesaving cleft treatment. One cleft surgery equates to $250. Many children with clefts need sometimes more than just surgery. They may also need dental care, orthodontic treatment, speech therapy and more.
St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital — which seeks to advance cures and means of prevention for children with cancer. No child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.
National Air Disaster Foundation — monrys are collected for a memorial to be erected in Miami Springs commemorating the lives of the crew members who perished in the crash of Flight 401 in 1972.
Those wishing to become part of the GMIA Silverliners chapter should send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.