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Sep. 05

As NATO Meets, a Cross-Atlantic Pair of Young Volunteers Honored for Work Benefiting Military Families

This post is by Tracy Hoover, president of Points of Light.

Yesterday, as NATO leaders convened outside the Welsh capital of Cardiff to deal with terrorism and war, a second extraordinary meeting took place nearby.

graceandmichaela_for_blog_close_cropped_0.jpgMichaela Coplen and Grace Franklin

For the first time ever, the UK government and Points of Light arranged to award a pair of Daily Point of Light Awards to two extraordinary young ladies in recognition of their volunteer efforts to benefit military families.

Michaela Coplen, age 18, from Carlisle, Pa., and Grace Franklin, 8, from Billingham, County Durham in Britain, boarded the HMS Duncan, where UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and other British leaders congratulated them on their accomplishments. In addition, the two visited a UK school to talk about their efforts to support children from military families.

The Daily Point of Light Award, created by President George H. W. Bush in the United States in 1989, celebrates the power of individuals to spark change and improve the world. Prime Minister Cameron started the daily award in the UK earlier this year to recognize outstanding individuals who are voluntarily making change in their communities and inspiring others.

Michaela Coplen is the 5,297th Daily Point of Light Award winner in the U.S. Growing up the daughter of two Army officers, Michaela discovered that writing poetry was an effective outlet for expressing the stresses of being apart during her parents’ deployments.

“I knew that I wanted to help alleviate these feelings in other military kids,” she notes, so she created and conducts workshops around the country to teach children how to use poetry to release some of the complicated emotions they feel.

Grace Franklin marks the 100th Point of Light Award honoree for the UK. While her father was deployed, Grace found it difficult to end their phone calls, so they developed an effective routine of ending calls with a joke.

Grace, determined to help others, collected jokes that she tested on friends and schoolmates, and when she reached her target of 100, she created the “Little Book of Jokes.” More than 600 copies have sold to date, and she donates the proceeds to charities.

Grace and Michaela are the first of what we hope will be many cross-Atlantic Points of Light “pairs” that will work together to advance their efforts and encourage others to volunteer.

We are so pleased to honor spectacular young people who are making their mark on the world as they help others, to focus the Daily Point of Light Award on solutions to problems experienced throughout the world, and to remind people that volunteers change lives and offer hope.

Points of Light continues to recognize those who effect powerful change in their communities. Go to the Daily Point of Light site and click “nominate” to help identify more stories of people who deserve recognition for their volunteer service.

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