Hmmm… was not necessarily cognizant re: the War on Poverty (I was five when the campaign was launched) – but adult volunteers (from that ERA) supported me and my Boy Scout troop, made it possible to become an Eagle Scout – learned to do a good turn daily, to be helpful… concurrently learned about the Peace Corps through a cassette recording from the son of my fifth grade teacher (A Peace Corps Volunteer).
Perhaps he and other Peace Corps volunteers who inspired me (along with my Boy Scout experience) to take two years after college to make the world a better place. I joined the Peace Corps helped to revitalize the Barbados Boy Scouts Association – led to a thirty plus year nonprofit, volunteer engagement, and capacity building career and now consulting at the World Bank joining the world-wide fight to end extreme poverty.
I surmise that a number of the mentors, role models, and colleagues I worked with were inspired by the War on Poverty and indirectly they inspired and informed my work.
During my career I helped to found or organize over 100 new Scouting organizations in Barbados and the US that have involved and hopefully inspired 2 or 3 more generations of young people perhaps these have also connected 10 to 50,000 young people to quality Scouting or Exploring experiences to learn about and try out merit badges or career exploration leading to careers or life-long interest and perhaps a third or more of them have in turn volunteered and inspired other young people.
This combined with supporting a network of American Red Cross chapter directors and chairs of volunteers connecting up to a million volunteers a year to (usually) quality volunteer opportunities has made a difference.
My since thanks to the volunteers and the Returned Peace Corps volunteers that inspired me and to the thousands and millions of volunteers who pay it forward every day through volunteer acts and random acts of kindness. I hope Monday – MLK Jr. Day – is a day of service and reflection for you, not just another day off.
My thanks also to Cody Switzer at the Chronicle of Philanthropy for inspiring me to reflect on how I can pay it forward.