Reflections on the 5,000th Daily Point of Light
Last week at the White House (it is not often that you get to say that!), I had the privilege of spending time with President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush and President Obama and Michelle Obama, along with dozens of Daily Point of Light honorees and hundreds of other Americans.
We gathered together in the East Room to give the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award to Kathy Hamilton and Floyd Hammer, who, with thousands of volunteers, have assembled and distributed 230 million free meals to hungry children in this country and around the world.
The event was a celebration of American optimism and what makes our country great. It also highlighted how far we've come in the world of volunteer service.
When I started my service journey with Hands On Atlanta in 1990, 38 million people were serving across the country. Today, more than 64 million people volunteer each year. Today, young people volunteer at twice the rates they did nearly 25 years ago. So many - from employers to faith leaders, educators to parents - see volunteerism as a norm and expectation.
The White House gathering was also an opportunity to reflect on how much more we can accomplish together. Armed with new technology and a boatload of creativity, people are creating impact at a scale and speed that is breathtaking. They are crafting solutions to engage volunteers in profound and new ways to solve our most pressing problems.
Going forward, we can reach new milestones. Imagine the possibilities if 100 million volunteers were serving in America. Think of the ripples of change this would create across the country.
Chad Pregracke reminds me why this might just be possible and why it's important. A Daily Points of Light honoree, Chad has inspired 70,000 people to join him in cleaning up the Mississippi River. He says volunteers get two rewards - they get to make a difference and they get to "see the very best of America and Americans."
For the past 25 years, I've loved seeing the best of America and Americans. It has been an enormous privilege to be the steward of President George H. W. Bush's legacy and a co-creator, with so many others, of our nation's volunteer movement. But today I am sharing the news that I will step down from Points of Light to announce a run for the United States Senate. I see it as simply a different way to serve.
It has been an enormous honor to be CEO at Points of Light. I have been and will continue to be inspired by the unceasing creativity and compassion of our volunteers.
Points of Light has never been stronger. We have a tremendous team led by a seasoned and dynamic board, staff, supporters and volunteers. And we have an ambitious agenda to dramatically increase the number of volunteers and the impact of the work they do.
Great things are happening. I can't wait to see what the next 5,000 Points of Light will bring.
CEO, Points of Light