Global Social Impact Leaders Gather in Poland to Discuss Disaster Response, Refugee Work, Partnerships and Strengthening Civic Engagement in Communities

Feb 13, 2024

Warsaw, Poland – During the week of February 6–9, 2024, Points of Light brought together more than 200 community leaders from Poland and 25 additional countries around the world to delve into issues and trends affecting communities as well as discuss key strategies and best practices for mobilizing individuals, NGOs and companies to address them. Guests received a warm welcome from Points of Light’s President & CEO Jennifer Sirangelo and cohost Stowarzyszenie Centrum Wolontariatu’s President Agnieszka Lissowska-Lewkowicz, a member of the Points of Light Global Network.

On February 7, attendees at the 2024 Global Summit on Social Impact, which was open to the public and included NGO and corporate leaders from Poland and around the world, united through a common vision: to drive positive change and foster resilience in communities worldwide. The theme of this year’s summit, One World, One Response, underscored the urgent need for collective action in the face of natural and human-made disasters.

Fireside Chat with Neil Bush and Mark Brzezinski

Mark Brzezinski, United States ambassador to Poland; Agnieszka Buczyńska, Polish minister for civil society, chairwoman of the public benefit committee; and Neil Bush, chair, Points of Light Board of Directors kicked off the Summit. Mrs. Buczyńska shared what civic engagement means today in Poland and reflected on the power it has to support those who have been displaced. In a fireside chat, Mr. Bush and Mr. Brzezenski shared the importance of Points of Light hosting a global convening like this and the power of connecting social impact leaders, highlighting cross-sector partnerships and the historical significance of President Bush’s instrumental support in Poland’s transition to democracy in 1989.

“Our world faces incredible challenges and the only way to solve them is the power of people coming together and creating solutions,” said Points of Light President and CEO Jennifer Sirangelo. “The speakers at the Global Summit on Social Impact shared insights that have impact beyond the room, specifically how they overcame challenges through cross-sector partnerships and how important empathy is for community change. This gathering inspired attendees with a renewed sense of purpose and a commitment to building a more resilient and inclusive world.”

Panel discussion

Topics included “Bridging Political Divides,” focusing on leveraging cross-sector partnerships as a tool of civic engagement; “Building Community Resilience,” and how a blueprint for collaboration can help both social and business communities in supporting displaced people; and “Bridge Building,” the intersection between civic engagement and refugee work on a global stage and specifically how most civic engagement leaders today must consider themselves leaders in disaster response.

“For the Polish audience, it was an incredibly important event. We could see inspiring examples of work from all over the world, share our own best practices based on Polish help for Ukrainian war refugees and experience very tangibly that we all go in the same direction of building the support system for displaced people based on cross-sector partnerships. We at Stowarzyszenie Centrum Wolontariatu are proud of being part of this meaningful process,” said Stowarzyszenie Centrum Wolontariatu’s President Agnieszka Lissowska-Lewkowicz.

Points of Light Global Network

The week-long gathering that bookended the Summit is an annual event hosted by Points of Light in partnership with a member of the Points of Light Global Network, a network of 145 innovative volunteer-mobilizing organizations across 39 countries. For 65 leaders from across our network, this year’s gathering was an immersive experience into civic engagement in Poland as well as a platform for exchanging ideas, strategies and best practices to advance civic engagement in global communities.

Leaders from the Points of Light Global Network participated in volunteer projects in Warsaw and had the opportunity to make traditional beaded necklaces for Ukranian refugees, butterfly canvas gift bags for families of children with hearing impairments, and record language learning videos to support displaced refugees. Each project was facilitated by Points of Light co-host Stowarzyszenie Centrum Wolontariatu and their local program partners including the Center for Intergenerational Integration, Polish Foundation for Deaf Children and the Polish Migration Forum Foundation.

Discussion between Points of Light Global Network members

The group also spent two days focused on growing the impact of volunteerism and civic action across the world by learning and sharing about topics like navigating diversity for community impact, innovative programs and approaches from across the world to scale in their home communities, demonstrating organizational and community impact, trends in volunteer engagement and more.

“The energy, innovation and expertise in the room when leaders from Points of Light’s Global Network come together is simply unmatched, and we saw that clearly in Warsaw,” said Katie Stearns, Points of Light chief program and impact officer. “This week together sparks strategies and partnerships that will fuel change, growth and impact across the globe well into the future.”

This week-long event was made possible thanks to the generous support of UPS, one of the world’s largest companies, a leader in emergency and disaster response, and supporting the communities we serve around the world.

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