As the general director of Ethelon in Greece, one of the biggest benefits of my role is connecting with people from all over the world who are trying to make this world a better place. The highlight of this is having the chance to meet those people in person, and there is no better place to do that than the annual Points of Light Conference. Here’s why.
For Cliff Preston, the most joyous time of the week is the time he spends comforting hospitalized newborns. Known as a baby cuddler, Cliff has volunteered for more than 26 years at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. Infants need to form vital human connections from birth, and volunteers like Cliff help make this possible while their parents are away. The staff and patients in the neonatal intensive care unit has quickly become a second family to this Gainesville, Florida, native. Cliff first learned about NICU volunteer programs in the fall of 1992 and, before long, he discovered similar opportunities at his local hospital. After going through an interview process and training sessions, Cliff became an official cuddler, and has spent every Thursday morning in the NICU ever since.
When recent high school graduates Nichelle Johnson and Tranetta Luque began their jobs as customer care center clerks at Entergy Corporation, they were excited. They knew they landed well-paying jobs with full benefits, a retirement savings plan and excellent long-term career opportunities at the only Fortune 500 company headquartered in their hometown of New Orleans.What they did not know is that they had their own, equally excited cheering section inside the company, who had been working behind the scenes to bring them on board. This is the story of their journey, a workforce program called Entergy Career Pathways — and how it all started at the Points of Light Conference.
Edwin Eugene “Gene” Neeley makes sure that every veteran gets their moment of honor. At 94 years old, the World War II veteran is the secret weapon for the Greater Peoria Honor Flight, where he seeks out and encourages veterans to take a special flight to Washington, D.C., at no cost. In his volunteer role, Gene looks for veterans who have not yet participated in the honor flight, which brings veterans to the nation’s capital to visit the memorials, and helps them understand that their sacrifice is never forgotten. He has become the radiant face of the honor flight, and his love for the brave men and women who have served our country is contagious.