WASHINGTON, -- The remarkable founders of AARP and of the National Urban League will be honored during National Volunteer Week. Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, founder of AARP, and Ruth Standish Baldwin and Dr. George Edmund Haynes, co-founders of the National Urban League, will be inducted posthumously intoThe Extra Mile – Points of Light Volunteer Pathway. These heroes will be celebrated at a reception on April 20, 2010, during the annual week that celebrates people in action.
The Extra Mile – Points of Light Volunteer Pathway is the country's only national monument dedicated to the spirit of volunteering in America. The Pathway, officially established by Points of Light in 2005, is formed by a series of bronze medallions along a one-mile walking path in downtown Washington, D.C. The monument was created by John Johansenand formalized by the Make a Difference Establishment Act of 1998 passed by the D.C. City Council. An estimated 1.7 million people visit The Extra Mile annually. Its operation is funded through private donations to the Points of Light Institute.
"The Extra Mile is a continuously evolving tribute to great American volunteer pioneers, set in the heart of the capital," saidMichelle Nunn, CEO of Points of Light Institute. "These are outstanding citizens who created a better America, and their legacies of service are strong and lasting."
Each Extra Mile honoree is commemorated on a 42-inch medallion embedded in a six-foot square block of black granite, placed at 50-foot intervals along the pathway. Medallions include the honoree's image sculpted in bas-relief, a brief description of his or her achievement and an inspirational quotation.
Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus (1884-1967) was a schoolteacher in Los Angeles who fostered ties between the generations and encouraged everyone to view aging as an achievement to be celebrated. She was the first female high school principal in the state of California and was named Teacher of the Year by the National Congress of Parents and Teachers, as well as by the National Education Association. She was a pioneer in breaking down barriers between students of different backgrounds and in emphasizing community service to students.
After Dr. Andrus retired, she realized that many teachers, after years of devoted service, received pensions that barely sustained them. Driven by the desire to provide older Americans with access to health insurance and financial security, she founded the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA) in 1947. Soon, non-educators sought the same benefits being offered through the NRTA. Dr. Andrus broadened her audience and founded AARP (then known as the American Association of Retired Persons). Today, AARP is the nation's largest membership organization and focuses on helping its members and everyone 50+ to live their best lives.
"Like many Extra Mile honorees, Ethel Percy Andrus was one of those very rare people with the ability to dream a dream of how to help others and the will to make the dream become a reality," said John Johansen, founder of The Extra Mile. "It's a wonderful irony that she discovered her life's purpose in retirement by working to give purpose to retired people."
Ruth Standish Baldwin (1863-1934) and Dr. George Edmund Haynes (1880-1961) co-founded the National Urban League (NUL) to help African-Americans make the transition from rural to urban life.
Baldwin was a wealthy widow with exceptional social consciousness and concern for the disadvantaged. She was involved with many progressive movements of the day, hosted multi-racial speaking engagements in her home covering current social issues, and joined the Socialist Party. Baldwin was especially troubled by the lack of work offered to the increasing number of African-American women migrating to the urban north in the late 1800s. Many came in response to advertisements promising jobs that never materialized.
Dr. Haynes was an enlightened administrator and author, graduate of Fisk University and Yale University, and the first African-American to receive a doctorate from Columbia University. He was the first executive secretary of the Department of Race Relations of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America, served as a consultant on Africa for the World Committee of YMCAs, and taught at the City University of New York until his death. Using his training as a social worker, he created an organization to help newly arrived African-Americans adjust to the physical, social and economic surroundings of what to them was a strange and even hostile environment.
Together, Baldwin and Haynes helped African-Americans successfully adapt to life in the city. They worked to expose deplorable living and working conditions, reduce discrimination, and offer educational opportunities and economic assistance.
"George Haynes and Ruth Baldwin were visionaries in an era when our country was just beginning to discover its own organized capacity to care," Johansen said. "Despite a lack of resources and infrastructure, they were able to galvanize public support around their simple idea to advance the common good through the equal treatment of all people."
Today, the mission of the National Urban League has evolved into engendering economic self-reliance and supporting civil rights. It has more than 100 affiliates nationwide, impacting the lives of more than two million people each year.
About The Extra Mile Pathway
The Extra Mile Pathway, an initiative of Points of Light Institute, is a monument in the heart of Washington, D.C., representing citizens who championed causes to realize a better America. From founders of major service organizations to leaders of the civil rights and suffrage movements, the Americans honored on The Extra Mile led enduring social movements that continue to engage and inspire us today.
Andrus, Standish and Baldwin are three champions who left enduring legacies. Their efforts continue to alter circumstances and create opportunities for retired persons and African- Americans, and their stories inspire many Americans to act upon their ability to change the world. They are three of the outstanding service leaders that Points of Light Institute will celebrate during National Volunteer Week.
About Points of Light Institute
Points of Light Institute inspires, equips and mobilizes people to take action that changes the world. The Institute has a global focus to redefine volunteerism and civic engagement for the 21st century, putting people at the center of community problem solving. We are organized to innovate, incubate and activate new ideas that help people act upon their power to make a difference. Points of Light Institute operates three dynamic business units that share our mission: HandsOn Network, MissionFish and the Civic Incubator. For more information, please visit www.pointsoflight.org.
SOURCE Points of Light Institute