Volunteer Awards 2006
Thank you. It is always an honor to be introduced by someone who shares my vision for a Texas where hope reigns in every heart... the president of the OneStar Foundation, Susan Weddington.
To the men and women we honor this evening, and to the volunteers who are leaving a lasting imprint on the future of this state: it is an honor just to be in your presence.
You are the reason that the Texas spirit is thriving, that our communities are being renewed, and that lives once lost to despair are being reborn in hope.
Thank you for making a difference.
I have always believed that God has a purpose and a plan for each of His children, whether you are a child of privilege, the daughter of a working single mom, or the son of two tenant farmers from Paint Creek, Texas.
Each of us has something to contribute to the world, a unique way to make life better for our fellow human beings using our individual talents and gifts.
Changing the world doesn’t have to start with a grandiose vision, just the courage to change one life with a small act of compassion.
Tonight we honor 14 individuals and organizations who have shown what amazing things can be accomplished when we harness the compassion in our hearts through the work of our hands.
Some, like Brandi Schimmel, have used their own life experiences to guide others up mountains they have climbed themselves.
Today Brandi is helping teenage parents in North Texas learn essential parenting skills and earn a high school diploma.
And I might add, her idea for a teen mentoring program may never have taken root if it were not for a Volunteer Leadership Conference hosted by OneStar several years ago, and a OneStar scholarship that helped her attend.
Others, like Reba Sorrells and her late husband Cleo, simply recognized that the blessings of their life would mean so much more if they shared with them others.
And through two decades of volunteer service, they went to great distances to share those blessings, traveling half-a-million miles to deliver goods to rural charities.
Though their service has been varied, what each of tonight’s honorees have in common is this: they are changing Texas for the better, one kind act at a time.
One of the reasons I helped create the OneStar Foundation is because government is not equipped to meet every human need.
And no matter how far mankind advances in the future, or how much headway government makes in alleviating suffering, the truth of the human condition is that there will always be people who need a helping hand.
Some of the greatest needs--a child knowing that someone cares about them, or understanding that their life has worth and meaning--can only be satisfied when a compassionate volunteer takes the time to invest in the life of another.
That is why the work of the OneStar Foundation is so important.
By helping volunteer organizations across the state maximize their efforts, we are having an impact far greater than if government or the non-profit sector acted alone.
Today, you can be proud that Texas’ army of compassion has never been larger or stronger.
Throughout history, so many of mankind’s greatest advancements can be traced to individuals who recognized that there are causes greater than self, and who made a profound difference simply by putting others’ needs before their own wants.
I often think of the great feats accomplished by such leaders found in the Old Testament: Abraham leaving his homeland and his countrymen to establish a new people, Moses leading the Hebrews out of Egypt to freedom, Nehemiah returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the mighty walls that lay in ruin.
These individuals were not born into circumstance.
One was a rancher, another, a government bureaucrat, and the other, a slave.
But they answered the call of service, they had a vision for a better tomorrow, and there was no person, no obstacle, no circumstance that could prevent them from bringing it to life.
This is our great calling, too.
Today in Texas, there are far too many people who, because of their own mistakes or the wrongs of another, cannot see a better tomorrow ahead.
Their vision for the future has been limited by drug addiction, by violence, or a lifetime of neglect, or maybe the walls of a parent’s prison cell.
Whatever their circumstance, they must come to know that their life is not without purpose, and their future is not without hope, because every human being deserves a second chance.
To the honorees who are bringing that good news to Texans in need, and to every volunteer who restores hope in the hearts of the hopeless, I offer my deepest appreciation.
May you continue to change our world for the better.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God continue to bless Texas.
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