The theme for this years National Conference on Volunteering and Service is “Turning Point.” On the blog we are continuing to highlight turning point stories – the stories of when someone recognized they could no longer stand by and watch the needs of their communities go unmet. The moment when they stepped in and took action. Today’s Turning Point comes from guest writer, Tymm Hoffman, Senior Designer at Points of Light. Want to share your turning point story and have it published on our blog? Email stories to: Listen [at] pointsoflight.org
Burying a child is never easy.
Burying a child amidst some of the worst poverty you could ever imagine was not only hard – it was life changing. It redefined our purpose and sent our family down a very different path while changing what the word “community” meant to me.
In 2008, Brighton, our son that we were adopting, passed away in an orphanage in Ethiopia. That year was a benchmark year for me personally and for my family as a whole. As we stood in an overcrowded cemetery looking at his headstone we realized just how incredibly blessed we were. We realized just how incredibly much we have.
And we realized how incredibly much we have to give.
Upon returning from Ethiopia that year – we knew our hearts and minds had been reset. I immediately got busy with leaving my job and was intentional about finding employment with an organization that was doing good through the service of others. I landed at Points of Light.
But we didn’t stop there. My wife and I started serving in our local community through our church as volunteers as well as mentors to college students. At this point we had a daughter home and we were determined to raise her in a setting where serving others was as natural as playing with others was.
2 years after his death we founded a nonprofit organization called Brighton Their World that focuses on the dire needs (mainly nutritional) of children in orphanages in 3rd world countries. Our main focus is on Ethiopia where we have created a partnership with an orphanage in the capital city there that we have shipped over 44,000 bottles worth of formula to so far. We recently received our 501.c.3 approval from the government and are excited to not only be providing for the children in need at our partner orphanage but also creating a way for people to serve alongside us.
I also lead several teams a year to Africa to work in orphanages and to visit the children – and though it is always difficult leaving family – I am positive that my absence and what I am doing will have an immeasurable impact on my girls (we have 2 daughters now) as they grow.
Of course I wish Brighton was with us today to play and run and laugh and serve with his sisters. But his spirit is with us every day. He is there every single time we stop to talk to a homeless person or help feed the hungry or mentor a student or step foot in an orphanage in Africa. Especially in Africa.
Serving others. It’s what we were built to do. It doesn’t always take the death of a child at 76 days old to help you see clearly. But sometimes it does.
This spring we hope you’ll join us at Points of Light in talking about your turning point – the moment or moments that inspired your service. For Tymm, it was a distinct moment in time. A moment that redefined his life and pointed it down a road of service. We know you have a story too. To share it with us and/or on this blog, send your story to: Listen [at] pointsoflight.org