A primer on the Thousand Points of Light

I want to help educate you on what George H.W. Bush created while he was president.

A Thousand Points of Light: a primer

Note: This is a letter I wrote to President Donald Trump. I sent a copy to the newspaper because I wanted to share it with my community.

Dear President Trump,

I have never written a letter to the President of the United States before, but today I feel I must make an exception. I want to help educate you on what George H.W. Bush created while he was president. Last Thursday (July 5) at a rally in Montana you stated, “’Thousand Points of Light’ — I never quite got that one. What the hell is that? Has anyone ever figured that one out?”

Well, President Trump, I have figured out what that powerful expression means. President George H.W. Bush believed that volunteering was very important. In his 1989 inaugural address he said, “I have spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation, doing good.”

Points of Light was then created in 1990 as a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C. to promote the spirit of volunteerism. It is an international nonpartisan organization headquartered in the United States dedicated to engaging more people and resources in solving serious social problems through voluntary service. Colin Powell was also instrumental in starting the National Points of Light yearly conferences, which are the largest service-related convening of nonprofit, government and business to promote volunteering. I was very fortunate to attend one in San Diego years ago and learned a lot.

In fact, Points of Light has some amazing facts they have tracked through their organization, such as 20 million hours of volunteer service per year. Here’s something you might enjoy learning: $482 million is the annual dollar value of volunteer hours.

Here in Grays Harbor County in Washington state, where I have lived for 43 years, there are over 111 organizations that depend on volunteers. These organizations would not be able to exist if not for the thousands of hours the volunteers give. I have attached the brochure I’ve compiled that lists the organizations, their contact information, and what their volunteers do. Hopefully you can see how volunteering makes a huge difference in our county, which enables these service organizations to help others.

President George H.W. Bush said, “We can find meaning and reward by serving some higher purpose than ourselves, a shining purpose, the illumination of a thousand points of light. … We all have something to give.”

President Trump, I hope you can learn more about volunteering and how important it is all across the United States. The power of people helping people is truly what makes America great.

Betsy Seidel