When President George H.W. Bush was in office in 1990, and after Nelson Mandela was released from prison, as a young civil rights lawyer living in Chicago reflecting on the need for more light, I wrote a poem. It was a privilege to share this poem last night at the opening plenary session of Service Unites 2018. Many of you have requested a copy of this poem, “How I Read a Poem Like This,” and we are pleased to share it with you, our community of changemakers – points of light in communities around the world, who are helping to ignite a civic culture. Thank you.
In the many years I’ve spent attending the Points of Light’s conference, I’ve seen a lot. I’ve met presidents and first ladies, the son and brother of a president (here’s looking at you, Neil Bush!), members of Congress, entertainers and athletes. More importantly, I’ve met people who I have learned from, networked with, enjoyed a beer with, and who have helped me be a leader in the field of corporate volunteer management. Here are five reasons why you should join me in Atlanta in June.
Since beginning my work in the volunteering and service sector in 1998, I have attended all but two Points of Light conferences. And I go back year after year, even during the tightest of budget times – something I know many nonprofit professionals understand – because I continue to find unmet value in the opportunities the Service Unites conference has to offer.
There is a steady drumbeat of stories that focus on our differences. No matter how you consume your news, you’ll see or hear stories about intolerance in our daily lives and political stalemates at every level of government. At the beginning of the year, the Pew Research Center released a poll and said that Americans predicted the country’s deep political divisions to persist – with 86 percent saying the country is more politically divided than ever. Shortly before that poll was released, however, Points of Light affiliate New York Cares reported that, just a week after one of the most divisive national elections in our country’s history, there was a 137 percent increase in people who came to them with an interest in volunteering.