White House Event Honors Daily Acts Of Volunteerism

July 15, 2013       The NonProfit Times      

Points of Light (PoL) will bestow its 5,000th Daily Points of Light award and celebrate previous honorees today during an event at the White House, along with President Barack Obama, President George H.W. Bush, the creator of the Daily Points of Light Award, along with Barbara Bush and Points of Light Chair Neil Bush.

Kathy Hamilton and Floyd Hammer, a married couple in Union, Iowa, will receive the 5,000th Daily Points of Light award at the ceremony, expected to kick off at 1:30pm today in the East Wing of the White House. Hammer and Hamilton founded in 2004 a nonprofit called Outreach, which has distributed more than 229 million free meals. Approximately two-dozen previous honorees will be at the event, including Chicago Bears defensive lineman Israel Idonije.

“We’re humbled,” said Hammer. “We’re not the light, we’re just one of those points of light. There’s thousands of people doing good, and this just tries to bring the focus on them. It’s a recognition of volunteerism, and Kathy and I are just one part of that.”

“This event highlights creativity, commitment and meeting a scale of creating change that’s quite remarkable,” said Michelle Nunn, CEO of the Atlanta, Ga.-based PoL. “It’s a lovely celebration of transformational people.”

The Daily Points of Light award winners “come from all walks of life,” said Nunn. “Some are very young, some are in their 90s. They’re a cross-section of America, and all are emblematic of the power of the individual coming together with others to create change.”

President George H. W. Bush created the Daily Points of Light award in 1989. “It became a metaphor for his belief in service,” said Nunn.

Nunn said the decision to honor the 5,000th winner in a ceremony came about from conversations between Presidents Bush and Obama at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, Texas. “We’d been hoping this might happen. They planted the seed and it blossomed at that gathering,” said Nunn.

“We’re excited about this 5,000th award and how it ushers in an opportunity to recognize the next 5,0000 and really create an antidote to cynicism and apathy and remind people of their ability to make change,” Nunn said. “We don’t often enough call it out and lift it up. That’s what we hope to do in this milestone and going forward.”