Under the glow of crimson Chinese lanterns, a retired NBA star-turned philanthropist, a young environmentalist, a nonprofit addressing hunger and a company with a strong history of employee volunteerism received Points of Light Tribute Awards last night at the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C.
“We celebrate the expansion of the global service movement and recognize individuals, companies and organizations who empower others, strengthen families and lift communities,” said Points of Light Chair Neil Bush, who co-hosted the event with Ambassador H.E. Cui Tiankai of the People’s Republic of China.
Retired Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, a key U.S. security adviser to a succession of presidents and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and Yue-Sai Kan, an Emmy-winning television host and producer whom People magazine called “the most famous woman in China,” were honorary co-chairs. (See photos of the event here.)
Yue-Sai, presenting Yao Ming’s Tribute Award, shared something the former NBA player told her: “Being good is commendable, but doing good is more important.”
That sentiment resonated throughout the evening, particularly as the Tribute awardees – recognized for their volunteer and philanthropic work – were named. This year’s honorees are:
- Retired professional basketball player Yao Ming, formerly with the Houston Rockets. The Yao Ming Foundation seeks to improve the lives of children in China and the U.S., with an emphasis on providing educational opportunities. Fellow NBA basketball great Dikembe Mutombo accepted the award on Yao’s behalf.
- Hewett-Packard – In 2013 alone, 40,000 HP employees in 82 countries logged more than 1.6 million volunteer hours and, with the help of matching donations from HP, gave more than $13.3 million to nonprofits and schools through cash and product donations. Gregg Melinson, senior vice president of corporate affairs at HP, accepted the award.
- Environmentalist Charles Orgbon III, of Atlanta, who started a club at age 12 to keep his school clean, then turned it into Greening Forward, a nonprofit dedicated to creating a diverse global environmental movement powered by young people.
- World Central Kitchen, a humanitarian organization founded by international chef José Andrés that feeds and empowers vulnerable people in humanitarian crises around the world. Executive Director Brian MacNair accepted the award.
Celebrating the awardees at the Chinese embassy was a tribute to the life and legacy of President George H. W. Bush, Points of Light’s founder, who cares deeply about the promotion of volunteer service and closer ties to China.
Points of Light’s global network includes more than 60 cities 30 countries, including affiliates in Beijing, Hong Kong, Chengdu and Shanghai. Together they mobilize tens of thousands of volunteers who contribute their time to help meet community needs.
As the evening wound down, the focus was on the future. Accepting his award, 18-year-old Orgbon appealed to the gathering for guidance.
“Consider young people as your allies, partners and stakeholders,” he said. “Help us find and project our voices.”