Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Tribute to Harris Wofford; First Day of National Conference on Volunteerism

I'm posting this message from Washington, DC where the National Conference on Volunteerism and Community Service is being held. I'm a Commissioner for the Illinois Commission and was able to get a scholarship to attend.

Tonight was a dinner sponsored by the America's Service Commissions. I sat at a table with representatives from Ford Motor Co., America's Promise, and leaders of the Ohio, Michigan and California Commissions. I think a leader from Campfire Girls and City Year was also at our table.

The event honored the lifetime leadership of Harris Wofford. There were too many good things said about his lifetime of service and commitment to volunteerism, but here were a few:

David Eisner, CEO for Corporation for Volunteerism and Community Service, reads some quotes that originated with Senator Wofford.
- What mattered most were his actions. The way he turned words into deeds."
- We can solve our most serious problems by working together"
- Someone called Harris "GUMP" because he was in the middle of so many important things

Rober Goodwin, CEO Points of Light said of Harris, "he's always drinking in knowledge and always sharing what he knows"

Melinda Hudson of America's Promise read a list of five challenges attributed to Harris' vision about a person's potential to change his/her community
- be about something bigger than yourself
- never stop asking questions; be creative and curious
- collaborate, synthesize; never go alone (down with turf, up with e pluribus unium)
- never give up on the dream
- it is up to us

Harris Wofford spoke after all of these tributes and started his comments with
"this reminds me of the story about Mrs. Astor on the Titanic. Her last words as an iceberg crusher her cabin were, "I asked for ice water, but this is ridiculous."

He finished with this thought: "When I wake up every morning I have to decide if this is a day I want to save the world, or a day I want to enjoy it."

That's a good thought to go to bed on. Tomorrow will be a full day of networking with volunteers from throughout the country.

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