“Any definition of a successful life must include serving others.”
– President George H.W. Bush
When my father spoke those words in 1989, he spoke from the experience of having dedicated his life to public service. As I seek to carry on his legacy, it has never been clearer that individuals can – and do – change the world. We’ve seen it countless times. The executive assistant who works with children with special needs. The retiree who contributes his computer skills to helping nonprofits operate more effectively. The consultant who serves as a role model and coach to young women interested in technology careers. These everyday volunteers and others understand that service unites us across the boundaries of culture, geography and identity. They understand that service enriches both the provider and the recipient. They realize that in an interdependent world each of us can do something, and that all of us can do more.
Points of Light was founded to advance my father’s vision that voluntary action to help others is inseparable from the pursuits of freedom and justice. As the world’s largest organization dedicated to voluntary service, we are committed to mobilizing millions of volunteers to take action to change the world. The goal of Points of Light is to increase dramatically both the number of volunteers in the world and the impact of their service. In recognition of that goal, we recently celebrated the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award at The White House with Presidents Barack Obama and George H.W. Bush.
The Daily Point of Light Award celebrates the power of individuals who work alone or with others to spark change and improve the world. The award has recognized thousands of heroes on nearly a daily basis over the last 24 years. Among them, three IBMers stand out for their personifications of the Culture of Service shared by IBM and Points of Light:
- IBM retiree Stan Braxton began volunteering his skills as a Certified Project Manager while he was still working full-time. After retiring, the Philadelphia native created a database for Philadelphia Reads – working with IBM’s On Demand Community to support the initiative with hardware and software donations. Braxton also has overseen development of the Philadelphia’s Promise website, developed strategy for the city’s Teaming for Technology program, and volunteered as a tutor and as a coach for the Special Olympics. At an after-school mentoring program event, one of the young protégés told the audience that “Mr. Braxton was the best teacher [he] ever had.”
- From Durham, North Carolina, IBM Global Administration Assistant Stan Latta has volunteered his time and expertise (more than 4,000 hours so far) for most of his life. IBM’s On Demand Community has helped Latta enhance the effectiveness of his work with the Special Olympics, the American Camp Association and North Carolina’s Camp Oak Hill – where children with asthma can learn to manage their disease while having fun. Latta’s contributions of time and expertise (and the grants of funding and technology he has arranged through IBM Citizenship programs) have been transformative for Camp Oak Hill, and are among the reasons he has been recognized with the President’s Volunteer Service Award for a lifetime of service.
- As a Business Transformation Executive Consultant based in Westchester County, New York, Sarena Meyer is passionate about helping young women understand that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) activities are not only fun, but can inspire the pursuit of exciting and successful careers. Meyer helped develop the curriculum for Girls Go TechKnow – the summer technology camp hosted for middle-school girls by IBM Research – where she has been involved as an organizer and instructor for seven years. More than 200 young women have attended Girls Go TechKnow, and Meyer’s example has inspired hundreds of other IBMers to donate their skills to the camp as volunteers.
IBM and Points of Light share a culture of service that is an essential part of who we are and what we do. For Points of Light, service is our mission, and that mission has never been more important in a world of increasingly limited resources. IBM’s culture of service reflects its values and its core strategy for leadership as a globally integrated enterprise. We are honored to count IBM as a valued partner in the service movement.
Neil Bush is the third of five children of President and Mrs. George H.W. Bush. He is the Chairman of Points of Light, and serves on the boards of the Houston Salvation Army, Volunteer Houston, The Fay School, America’s Promise Alliance, and the Bush School of Government and Public Service. He is proud to promote his father’s legacy of service that encourages every American to find the transformational power of helping others.