Like many businesses since the recession,
recently overhauled its giving strategy. In 2012, it partnered with Points of Light so that many of its more than 20,000 employees could help returning military troops reintegrate into society.
“In corporate America, people like feeling like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. I have yet to find someone that didn’t feel great doing it,” said David Melcher, ITT Exelis chief executive.
In the legal field, most firms in the region track their pro bono hours. But nothing may be quite as unique as the 50 local law firms that created Buildable Hours, a nonprofit that helps build homes with Habitat for Humanity.
On that breezy 51-degree winter day when Bush was delivering his Points of Light speech, an army of volunteers was busy a few blocks away taking leftover food from restaurants to feed the homeless. That operation, DC Central Kitchen, is now a well-known local nonprofit that is credited with revolutionizing the soup kitchen model because it employed and certified the poor and homeless to provide the services. That nonprofit represents many of the ways Washington area residents now think about solving social problems.
Take recent University of Maryland graduate
, who found a way to redistribute the leftover foods at university cafeterias and give them to local charities. The Food Recovery Network, started in 2010, has given more than 166,000 pounds of food to hungry people. Cheryl Gaines, senior pastor at ReGeneration House of Praise, had no real gardening experience when she got the idea to create an urban garden that would give local residents access to organic food while offering nutrition training and food handling certification to struggling women.
is now is set to produce at least 90,000 pounds of produce this year. Former D.C. social worker
was troubled by the number of academically challenged high school students in the District. He created Reach Incorporated which recruits, train and pays those struggling adolescents to tutor in D.C. elementary school students. In 2011, he was awarded the prestigious Echoing Green Fellowship, which funds social entrepreneurs.
is also tackling education by recruiting an army of volunteers in the community to support Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Northwest Washington. So far, 750 volunteers did 16,500 volunteer hours and saw reading performances of students increase.
The Washington region has its own handful of organizations that act as hubs for volunteer service. HandsOn Greater DC Cares, an affiliate of Points of Light, is known for its annual regionwide serv-a-thons that galvanize thousands of businesses, nonprofits and residents together to do projects such as refurbishing schools and packaging care kits for deployed troops.
is one of the more popular regionally focused volunteer hubs in Northern Virginia. Several national volunteer organizations have affiliates in the Washington region, including Volunteers of America, Billion + Change,
tion Without Borders
, Common Impact
and Catchafire, which allows people to design their own projects for charity.