AllEars.Net's Mike Scopa and Jack Spence recently attended the "Celebrate Volunteers" press event at Walt Disney World, where they had the chance to speak with Michelle Nunn, CEO of the Points of Light Institute and co-Founder of the Hands On Network.
Text: Mike Scopa
Photo: Jack Spence
I was able to track down and spend some time with Michelle Nunn who wears two hats: one as the CEO of the Points of Light Institute and secondly as the co-Founder of the Hands On network.
I asked her how she got involved with volunteerism.
She said that some 20 years ago she had met some folks like her who wanted to get into volunteer service. They combined their initiative to create Hands On Atlanta, the first volunteer organization of its kind anywhere.
Soon other organizations around the country began to pop up and soon there were sets of these organizations all becoming part of the Hands On Network.
She mentioned how then President Bush had called for 1000 points of light and how that got the Points of Light Institute on its way and how eventually that and the Hands On Network were on a course to one day merge…which happened about two years ago.
Since that merger, the executives at Walt Disney World contacted her and wanted to discuss an initiative and theme for 2010 on volunteerism.
The time and economic climate seemed right and the goal was to make the awareness for volunteers, to call for service across the country, and most notably work towards creating a new, younger generation of volunteers.
It took nine months of hard work to design and get the program in place.
Since the program was launched over 10,000 organizations has signed on to be a part of the effort.
So how does one get involved in the “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” program?
Michelle says to go to www.disneyparks.com and look for instructions on how to go about serving your community.There is a pipeline of projects just waiting for volunteers.
She says with a twinkle in her eye that she would love to see all who sign up to be lifelong volunteers.
The partnership with Walt Disney World allows the combination of Walt Disney World's “extraordinary and unrivaled assets” along with Hands On Network expertise in how to create and manage volunteer projects and how to activate people to do service, to create and implement and amazing program to inspire people from across the country to volunteer.
I asked her what has been most heartwarming about this program and she did not hesitate in saying that the testimonials from the organizations and volunteers are at the top of her list.
She mentioned how people like architects and technologists are stepping up to offer their skill sets to the volunteer efforts.
She mentioned the wonderful volunteer stories like Amanda from Canada, who from the age of 2 has been selling lemonade to raise money for all kinds of causes and at the age of 12 has already raised more than $135,000. That is a lot of lemonade.
Michelle also mentioned the wonderful networking of ideas that has resulted from this initiative and how sharing good ideas can only reap positive dividends.
Most of all she loves the fact that the partnership with Disney will Inspire young families and young people and create a whole new generation of citizens who will serve their communities and serve as change agents.
There are so many benefits from having young children get involved.
• Studies have shown that children who grow up in a household where at least one parent volunteers are twice as likely to be active citizens and participate as volunteers in their adult life.
• Studies have also shown that those who participate in service learning programs are more likely to complete college because they are developing self esteem and emotional intelligence and find ways to navigate the world around them.
• It has also been found that young people who volunteer at least one hour a week had 50% less chance of risky behavior such as smoking, drugs, and alcohol.
I asked her about the day's events and she said it was nice to see the volunteers be the stars of the show.
I asked her if there would be more honoring of volunteers this year and said to me she was looking forward to finding that out herself.
Finally she remarked how wonderful it was to partner with a corporation who certainly knows how to engage its customers and finds exciting ways to profile these volunteers.
I said to her that Disney has always been a great storyteller and we have heard many stories so far but we have many more to come. She agreed.
You can read about the Points of Light Institute at www.pointsoflight.org
and the Hands On network at www.handsonnetwork.org where you will find local volunteer organizations and toolkits to help you get started.
Get involved…what you will receive in return for your service will be priceless smiles and an indescribable feeling of gratification… not to mention a Disney Day.
The previous post in this blog was Give A Day, Get A Disney Day Press Event.
The next post in this blog is ESPN Wide World of Sports Relaunches Amid Much Fanfare.