Blog Archive

Blog Archive

Baseball, `Bull Durham’ and a Real-Life Happy Ending

When Pat James found out her 14-year-old son, Lathan, wasn’t going to be able to play in a baseball league in the summer of 2009, she wouldn’t accept it. That year, because of budget cuts, the Durham, N.C., parks and recreation department had cut its summer baseball program for teenage boys. So James went to work.

Here's How You Can Help Tornado Victims

Beginning on April 27, a dangerous storm system sparked a series of tornadoes causing extensive damage and power outages across the central and southeastern United States. The severe storm threat continues as the storm systems move east. If you would like to support the recovery effort, here’s what you can do to help.

Would You Do This to Help Your Neighbors?

As snowstorms give way to spring showers, we give thanks to those who stepped up during the rough winter season – like the volunteers of Serve Rhode Island. In response to several snowstorms in the area, the Providence-based volunteer center, dispatched hundreds of volunteers to shovel sidewalks and driveways at residences of the elderly and the disabled.

Going Green for Free and Saving Hundreds

Debra Garrett’s house went green, but she didn’t have to spend any green. She is one of 160 homeowners to benefit from Hands On Nashville’s Home Energy Savings Program. The program engages volunteers to make energy and safety improvements at no cost for qualifying low-income Nashville residents.

This Island Knows How to Throw a Volunteer Service Party

The first national volunteer initiative on Curaçao, CURA DOET, sent a huge wave of positive impact throughout this tiny Dutch Caribbean nation of 150,000 people. Volunteers tackled 132 service projects in almost every neighborhood on the island – coordinated from the headquarters of Curaçao Cares, a new international member of Points of Light's HandsOn Network.

A Parent’s Grief Becomes a Quest to Save Lives

In 2008, Russell Hurd experienced immeasurable tragedy when his daughter, Heather, was struck and killed on a Florida highway by a tractor-trailer driver who was distracted while texting on a cell phone. Though beset with grief, Hurd and his wife, Kim, took quick action to help save others from similar traffic hazards.

He Volunteered All Over Town, Which Led to Work With Purpose

Dean Graber shows his love for his hometown of Nashville, Tenn., in ways you can see. In the past two years he has participated in nearly 100 diverse community service projects through Hands On Nashville, logging more than 250 volunteer hours.

Creating Teen Volunteer Leaders, Like Herself

A Girl Scout since third grade, Lauren Levy has grown up serving her community. So when the Nashville, Tenn., teen found out about the Hands On Nashville internship program during her sophomore year in high school, she knew it was for her. Now a senior, Levy leads and takes part in several community service projects and events throughout the year.

Leaning Toward Leadership? Consider a Nonprofit Board

Once involved, volunteers often see they can make a difference – and want to do more. Feeling that pang, longtime volunteer Anne Fisher considered serving on a nonprofit board of directors to make more of an impact on her community. Having no prior board experience, Fisher decided to take part in The Bridge, a Seattle Works program that prepares people for board service.

An Unexpected Career in Volunteer Service

Tracy Hoover, an America’s Promise Alliance trustee, became the president of Points of Light just eight months ago, but she’s been a dedicated leader in the service movement for the majority of her career. America’s Promise Alliance asked Hoover to talk a little about herself.

After Destruction, We See the Good

A series of natural disasters recently hit several parts of the Philippines, leaving thousands of people homeless and infrastructures destroyed. Although Hands On Manila didn’t specialize in volunteer management during disaster, it became one of the coordinating hubs after Typhoon Haiyan for people who wished to help either through donations or as relief volunteers. Now Hands On Manila is figuring out how to respond to disasters.

Road-Tripping for Some Life-Changing Souvenirs

After years at various jobs, a stint in the military and volunteer experiences all over the country Olivia Zanfardino, like many young people, often asked herself, “What do I want to do with my life?” Zanfardino, now a business student at University of Phoenix, credits Roadtrip Nation for helping her forge her path.

Are You – or Someone You Know – Worthy of This Honor?

Through the signature Women of Worth program, Points of Light and L’Oréal Paris have partnered to celebrate women making a difference as volunteers. Starting today you can nominate a woman of worth in your own life – or even yourself – through June 25, 2014, for the honor and a chance at $10,000 for more good works.

Remembering the 8-Year-Old Killed in the Boston Marathon Bombings by Honoring What He Loved

The Richard family suffered overwhelming personal losses after the Boston Marathon bombings. As part of their effort to heal, the family created the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation this year. Its broad mission is to spread their son’s message of peace by investing in education, athletics and community.

World War II Victory Garden Leads to a Triumph

When a long-unused World War II victory garden in north Chicago was converted into a community garden in 2010 by the nonprofit Peterson Garden Project, retiree Barbara Kirchner was one of the first to rent a plot. She got to work planting vegetables, but she didn’t stop there.

Here’s How People Like You Make Life Better During National Volunteer Week

We spent National Volunteer Week honoring volunteers who make their communities better every day. And we were joined by some special guests, including “Entertainment Tonight” co-host Rocsi Diaz, singer Jon Bon Jovi and “Today” show hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie.

Teen Ranch Hand Changes the Game

High school junior Isaac McFarland was startled to learn that many families in Shreveport, La., didn’t have enough to eat, and that food banks and shelters were struggling to meet the needs of the hungry. The 16-year-old, who works on his family’s cattle ranch near Shreveport, decided to help.

Life Changed in an Instant, and for the Better

Two weeks before his 18th birthday, Pohl, of Chicago was in a car accident that nearly killed him. He suffered multiple fractures, including a broken back, and severe internal injuries. A doctor in the emergency room said he didn’t expect Pohl to survive the night. After he recovered, looking back on that life-changing experience, he turned to volunteering to help others.

Jon Bon Jovi and Matt Lauer Have This in Common

On Make A Difference Day 2013, Oct. 26, millions of you spread out across your communities to help your neighbors by cleaning parks, feeding the hungry and much more. Today USA WEEKEND and Points of Light, with Newman’s Own, will host a celebration for the winners in Washington, D.C.

A `Priceless’ Reaction to a Bunch of Books

Last October 2,666 members of the Assistance League led 93 of the national service organization's 120 communities in donating 103,036 books to foster programs, schools, shelters, libraries and Boys & Girls Clubs. The reaction of book-hungry children at one elementary school was "priceless."

Warming Hearts and Soles

In Weirton, W.Va., where the steel mill used to employ 14,000 but now has only about 1,000 workers, kids go to school in the cold with no socks. The only meal they eat all day is the free lunch at school. The town's residents sought to help with their first Make A Difference Day campaign, called Soup, Socks and Smiles: Warm Your Heart, Warm Your Sole.

This Little Library Lets You Keep the Books

Walk past the Leali home in New Orleans and you’ll notice a large wooden structure with glass doors near the sidewalk. Stocked with 50 to 80 books and bearing a sign that reads, “Take a Book. Return a Book,” the mini-building is in fact 8-year-old Nikki Leali’s Little Free Library.

No College Course Can Teach This

Holly Hilliard is about to graduate from the University of Arkansas with an industrial engineering degree and a commitment to volunteer service. Hilliard, 21, is the president of her school's Volunteer Action Center. And on the morning of Make A Difference Day she was struck by the impact she and her classmates were making on the community.

Want to Know What Makes a City a Great Place to Live?

Mayor Tom Rowland of Cleveland, Tenn., is proud of his community and the way residents pull together. It was evident in the aftermath of a tornado in 2011, and it is evident every year on Make A Difference Day. “When there is a need, it is amazing how the people turn out,” Rowland says.

Points of Light Shine Brightly in Britain

They are known in their communities for helping others during recent devastating floods in the United Kingdom, and now they’re known as Points of Light. Yesterday British Prime Minister David Cameron named five recipients of a new award modeled after the Daily Point of Light Award President George H. W. Bush created during his presidency.

When Serendipity Leads to a Passion to Help

Rich Ryffel was introduced to the nonprofit Beyond Housing – and volunteerism in general – through a business colleague. Since 1999, he has been a fixture on Beyond Housing’s board, working tirelessly to recruit board members, promoting the organization through regular speaking engagements and overseeing some of the group’s most successful new programs.

A Different Kind of College Party

You might expect fraternity members to spend a Saturday morning tossing a ball, washing their cars or just hanging out. But on Make A Difference Day, Oct. 26, Jonathan Wickham, a human resources management major from Wooster, Ohio, and 40 of his Lambda Chi Alpha brothers spent time making blankets for the homeless and repairing toys for disabled kids.

Giving Kids With Disabilities a Safe Place to Play

Sometimes it’s not just about the work that gets done. It’s also about how you play. Playworks, in Washington D.C., provides kids with opportunities for safe, meaningful play. That can be hard to come by in some urban areas, where schools can lack safe playgrounds and sometimes have to use neighboring civic recreation centers for recess.

Reaching Out to Homeless Vets in a Simple, Yet Meaningful, Way

It all started with a 14-hour airplane ride in 2010 and a loom knitter. Rather than grumble about the hours of travel she faced flying to Australia and New Zealand, Peggy McGee decided to put the time to good use by making hats for homeless veterans.

Wine Country Giving Back to the Ones Who Work the Harvest

To many, Sonoma County, Calif., summons images of fine wines, lush scenery and elegant dinners. But Daniel Rabkin, program manager of Sonoma County Operation Access, and his colleagues, are well aware that many in the community live in poverty with limited access to medical treatment. On Make A Difference Day Rabkin banded together with a group of ophthalmologists and their staffs to save the eyesight of 24 area agricultural workers and day laborers and another six cataract patients in need.

One America Los Angeles Rejuvenates a Neglected Beauty

On a glorious Los Angeles spring day today about 600 volunteers came out pick up trash, pull weeds, remove graffiti, repair fences and plant trees on the river banks near Elysian Park. The volunteers came for the last stop of the multicity One America tour, led by Points of Light and Chase. Since it kicked off last July in Columbus, Ohio, the tour has brought thousands of people together to volunteer in their communities – focusing on hunger, education and more.

More Than 20,000 Kids Volunteered in One Day Because of This Guy

Nick Katsoris, author of the "Loukoumi" series of children’s books, used Make A Difference Day to motivate more than 20,000 kids to take on projects from making rainbow loom bracelets for patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to collecting canned goods for homeless shelters.

How `The Blind Side' Made This Girl See

A 35-second scene in the hit movie "The Blind Side" is the seed that so far has produced beds for 349 children in Shelby County, Ky., including 27 in a special effort on Make A Difference Day. Though just 10 years old when she saw the movie, Jessica Collins came up with the plan to bring beds to those kids in need.

This `RocStar’ Makes Good Memories for Kids Who Lost So Much

Known for her charismatic personality and winning smile, Rocsi Diaz has become popular with millions of television viewers as co-host of “Entertainment Tonight” and formerly of BET’s “106 & Park.” Behind the camera, and the smile, is a deep commitment to social and humanitarian causes.

Abandoned at Birth, This 11-Year-Old Knows How Much This Small Gift Means to a Scared Child

Jessica Carscadden – abandoned at birth because of facial deformities – found comfort in stuffed animals when she was adopted at age 5. While cleaning out her room one day a few years ago, she decided to donate her loved but unused stuffed bears to other kids. From there, the We Care Bears Project was born. The project accepts donated stuffed bears for police and firefighters to give to injured or frightened children on emergency calls.

These Teens Surprised Themselves By Putting Others First

Some of the most troubled teenagers in one of Florida’s poorest counties attend tiny Escambia Charter School, an independent high school in Cantonment, Fla., near the Alabama line. Eighty percent of the 120 students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Many were rejected by public schools for bad behavior or grades. But on Make A Difference Day, they surprised themselves, and the community, by putting others first.

A Woman Helps Thousands Make a Difference in Just Hours – and a President Takes Notice

Today Points of Light Chairman Neil Bush will present Michelle Sollicito of Marietta, Ga., with a Daily Point of Light Award – during a 25th anniversary celebration of President George H. W. Bush’s presidency in College Station, Texas. President and Barbara Bush will be on hand to recognize the longtime volunteer. As we also look ahead to National Volunteer Week, April 6-12, read Sollicito’s story and nominate someone you know as a Daily Point of Light.

7,000 Reasons This Teen’s Determination Paid Off

Elijah Rodriguez confronted the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy every day as a junior at Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, N.J. A year after the storm, friends and classmates still couldn’t go home, because they had no homes to go to. Elijah empathized. His family had once been displaced by a fire. But a visit to Union Beach Borough Hall made him realize how many hundreds of families were still homeless, and he asked how he could help.

Hey Sugarland Fans – Here's Something for You

Kristian Bush – Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, producer and one-half of platinum-selling country duo Sugarland – will be among the featured speakers at Points of Light’s Conference on Volunteering and Service, June 16 -18 in Atlanta.

A Lego Movie Before `The Lego Movie'

Bailey Snow is a 16-year-old from Granite Bay, Calif., with a full slate of high school classes, a course at the local junior college, a part-time job at Starbucks, a place on his school’s trap-shooting team and a regular round of SAT prep classes on his schedule. And he runs BrickDreams, which solicits Lego donations from his community, sorts and packages the bricks in empty tennis ball containers and distributes them to organizations working with children in need.

More Kids Have Books to Read Because of What This Company Did

In many parts of the country millions of children in low-income families have no access to books. They haven’t been exposed to reading aloud. And when they start kindergarten, they’re not on the same playing field as the other kids in their class. Addressing this literacy crisis is something Bring Me A Book is dedicated to solving, with help from Morgan Stanley.

The Softer Side of a Hard-Hitting NFL Player

Israel Idonije has a reputation as a versatile, hard-hitting defensive end and tackle, most recently with the Chicago Bears and previously with the Detroit Lions. But the 10-year NFL veteran’s truest love is far less public – community service.