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Speeches

M. Parel: A Million Acts of Service and Kindness

Speech to the International Leadership Conference
Asunción, Paraguay, July 2-6, 2008

 

In this conference we have delved deeply into the vision and the ideals of service. We have created a nurturing environment for our common values and hopefully a safe environment to discuss our disagreements.

In my brief talk today I want to tell how this vision and its ideals come to fruition through the Points of Light partnership with UPF, and I'm going to challenge every one of you to participate.

But first, let me briefly tell you about Points of Light and Hands On Network. Points of Light was created by President Bush, the father, as a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nonreligious organization to promote volunteering and service. Last year, Points of Light merged with the Hands On Network, and it now has 370 affiliates in the US and nearly 30 abroad.

The vision of Points of Light and Hands On Network is that “One day every person will discover the power to make a difference, creating healthy communities in vibrant democracies around the world.” At the core of our values is citizen action, the building of civic infrastructures and mobilizing people through impact campaigns. We inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action and change the world.The vision of Points of Light and Hands On Network is that “One day every person will discover the power to make a difference, creating healthy communities in vibrant democracies around the world.” At the core of our values is citizen action, the building of civic infrastructures and mobilizing people through impact campaigns. We inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action and change the world.

And that’s what we did in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which displaced more than 1,000,000 people from the Gulf of Mexico. As you know, help to Katrina victims came from all over the world; even poor countries and poor individuals were remarkably generous. But it was through our partnership with UPF that the Points of Light Foundation had the most impact.

Working with 37 affiliates, we recruited nearly 180,000 volunteers who worked with hundreds of thousands of evacuees fixing and rebuilding homes and helping families get a new life, children enroll in new schools, and parents get new jobs.

More importantly, our joint work helped communities, through planning, training and exercises, prepare for the next disaster that we know will come. We even created a new affiliate in Selma, Alabama, under Rev. Carl Rawls’ leadership.

And our partnership continues. On August 9, the Global Peace Festival on the National Mall in Washington, DC, organized by many groups, brings people together to celebrate the human family, promote peace, encourage interfaith cooperation, and call citizens to service.

We want to ensure that this is not about a single day but long-term change. So here comes the challenge: a call to “A Million Acts of Service and Kindness.” You are invited to be part of this campaign. You’re invited to join forces to build a movement of kindness and service that seeks to simply live for the sake of others and make a difference.

An act of service is taking part in organized acts of service to others: help build a house, feed the elderly, organize a blood drive at your church.

An act of kindness is a less-organized activity but just as meaningful – or more. If you have had a fight with someone, take the first step to reconcile with that person. Or call someone you’ve been meaning to tell you love or are grateful for, but keep putting it off. Or even doing that home chore you’ve been avoiding – and doing it gratefully. Visit the website: millionacts.org. I count on you for 1,000,000 acts of service and kindness.