By: JoAnn Schinderle, Community Networking Coordinator, HandsOn Twin Cities
Liz Jones and I are honored to have had the opportunity to attend the Points of Light Tribute Event for Mr. and Mrs. George H.W.Bush and their advocacy of service which was held in Washington D.C. last week. The event was amazing, heartfelt, and inspiring. There was an over whelming feeling of support in the room each time a President spoke about volunteerism and acts of service. I also couldn’t help the feelings of pride and rejuvenation towards our work as AmeriCorps members. Listening to stories of individuals who went above and beyond the call of duty to make small steps with huge impacts in their communities, left the audience in tears and hopefully an understanding of the power volunteering truly has.
Our Washington D.C. trip and event attendance was made possible through the Get HandsOn campaign. This National campaign is being used as an innovative way to mobilize volunteers within communities. How it works in a nutshell: You sign up to their website, create a profile page, pledge to carry out acts of kindness and/or run a volunteer project within your community (projects are feasible to accomplish and come with toolkits), then you write journal entries about your progress and various work being done in your community. If you pledge and complete a project playbook (as they are called) then you are entered into monthly prize drawings. Prizes’ vary from iPads to service trips for 2. Liz and I pledged to start a food drive. We contacted Simpson Housing Services asking what food items they were in most need of. I was surprised to hear that ‘they never have enough coffee for their guests’. We generated a list, asked our colleagues, friend and families to donate, and amazingly won February’s Washington D.C. trip for two! (The second Liz and I found out, we simultaneously said ‘I never win anything!’) Again, it was an honor to be able to attend this event.
Washington D.C. is a city that beams with Americanism. After never having been to D.C; I left feeling more American than ever. Really, how could you not? Almost every building has the words ‘National’ or ‘United States of America’ engraved on it. The history and symbolism of that city is more in-depth than I could have expected. Luckily Liz and I were able to extend our stay by one night and booked beds in DC’s Hostel International. There we met and befriended 7 international travelers and spent the night playing games and exchanging stories.
Liz and I had an exceptional time. From sitting in the same room as such influential people to learning how to say ‘Good-Morning’ in several languages, we are thankful to have had this experience. AND glad to say that we can now check ‘Presidential Black Tie Event” off our bucket list.
“For we’re a nation of community; of thousands and tens of thousands of ethnic, religious, social, business, labor union, neighborhood, regional and other organizations, all of them varied, voluntary and unique. …a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.”
– George H.W. Bush