In March, Lynn generously made available two tickets to the attend The Points of Light Institute Tribute at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Points of Light is the largest volunteer management organization in the world. The tribute event celebrated voluntary action and honored President George H. W. Bush for his leadership in advancing the modern-day service movement. (It was H.W.’s inaugural address, after all, that invoked the idea of a “thousand points of light” in the national ideal of volunteer service and launched the organization’s mission!)
In order to win the tickets, we asked people to submit their best Tweet-able service-themed slogan. We got a lot of creative entries, both on our Facebook page and via email. The one we chose, however, came from Laurel Horn, an alumna of the 2009 REALITY Israel Experience for Teach For America Corps Members, who submitted the following via email:
“With compassion and awareness as illuminating guides, seek grace within grit, for it is in giving that we receive.”
Laurel teaches special education and works with at-risk kids at Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School with the D.C. Region Teach For America Corps. As her guest, she brought her fellow Scripps College alumna Erin Fry, who works in public health advocacy in DC and was a fellow at the National Academy of Sciences
They wrote a wonderful letter of thanks to Lynn that they are letting us share here …
Laurel (left) and Erin on the
It was an incredible honor to attend the Points of Light Tribute on behalf of the Schusterman Family Foundation. With four former Presidents in attendance (Presidents Carter, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush) countless celebrities and ordinary citizens, the event was an impressive testimony to the power of service to unite, as it taps into the core of our humanity and illuminates the soul we each hold.
We arrived at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts early and with great anticipation for the evening’s festivities. Upon gathering our tickets at Will Call, we were surprised and excited to learn that we had been invited to both the President’s Reception and Afterglow Reception events on the rooftop terrace. What an unexpected treat! The food, four piece string band, and décor at the pre-party were unparalleled. However, the real glamor was instilled in the fellow attendees we met, so many of whom had dedicated their lives to the service of others. President George H. W. Bush humbly addressed the group, and it was a thrill to be a part of that more intimate group.
Following the President’s Reception, we entered the Opera House, where the ceremony was to be held. It was an honor to be seated amongst those who have done so much in their lives and inspiring to think about what we have to give in the future.
The tribute, hosted by Reba McEntire, was comprised of stories of humble citizens who acted on a need in their community, narrated by our living Presidents, and performances by popular artists. Both Presidents Carter and Clinton spoke passionately about President George H. W. Bush’s dedication to service, and it was clear that in giving to others, the men established a deep bond transcending all partisan politics. Another touching moment of the evening was when the Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. rose from the audience and thanked the American people for coming to Japan’s aid in this difficult time.
Unique beyond the program of the evening, members of the audience turned around and talked to each other—sharing inspirational storie, and heartening smiles as we witnessed the heroic work of ordinary citizens. These stories, served as a reminder that whether one is a President, CEO, a school teacher or a student, we each have something to offer ourselves and this world.
Seeing a room that was truly shared, regardless of political orientation or any other divisive delineation, gave us a renewed hope for service as an instrument of tikkun olam. In the world of service and philanthropy, the work of the Schusterman Family Foundation extends beyond the individual projects that it sponsors, as it continues to inspire and support others to join. Upon the conclusion of the ceremony, we were once again whisked up to the terrace to dance away the rest of the night.
In the cab home that night, we reflected upon the inspiration of the evening, all that we are grateful for and everything that we have yet to give. We cannot express more gratitude for the experiences that the Schusterman Family Foundation has made possible that continue to guide the steps in our respective paths “with compassion and awareness as illuminating guides.”
With respect and gratitude,
Laurel and Erin