From Veteran to Entrepreneur With the Help of Volunteers

Alexandra Minor needed a new challenge. The West Point graduate and Army veteran with two deployments to Iraq had served honorably for five years, completed her master’s degree in business administration from Yale University and worked for a major consulting firm to the federal government. Minor, 33, enjoyed consulting but wanted to push herself more. “The best way for me to grow as a person is to be put into those uncomfortable and challenging situations,” she said. After discussions with …

Reading Program for At-Risk Children Brings Joy

Lexi Jadoff, 31, is a driven, ambitious Washington, D.C., consultant with a unique way of de-stressing. She volunteers with The Reading Connection (TRC), a nonprofit that promotes reading for at-risk families. Jadoff is among the Read-Aloud volunteers who read each week with children at shelters and affordable apartment complexes. Four rotating teams read children’s books about a pre-selected topic to the kids once each week, then the kids do a related activity. “Breakfast” is this week’s theme. Put your time, …

Why We Should Rise to the Pope’s Challenge

En español | Today I was honored to attend the White House arrival ceremony for Pope Francis. Along with the president and the first lady, my husband and other invited guests, I witnessed firsthand the pope’s energy and style, as he dove into his much-anticipated visit to the United States. Pope Francis engenders incredible enthusiasm wherever he goes. So whether it’s social media (#followfrancis), politics (meeting with President Obama and addressing Congress) or the cities he visits (closed streets and …

Alpha Phi Alpha Developing Future Leaders

I had the honor this past weekend of attending the Alpha Phi Alpha Eastern Region Leadership Development Institute’s Ecumenical and Awards Program. The program is designed to equip young African American males, ages 15 to 19, with leadership skills. This year’s theme was “Leadership: Learning, Leading and Leveraging.” The program was on the campus of Howard University, in Washington, D.C. The young men, called ambassadors, one of whom was my cousin, were from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. They participated …

Six Groups Honored for Reaching Out to Help Others

I had the honor of speaking at the AARP North Carolina State Office Multicultural Outreach Awards Dinner on May 21 at the historic International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, N.C. The event celebrated the contributions of six organizations that are giving “the most” to improve the quality of life for North Carolinians. I was moved by the commitment and monumental work each of the six organizations is doing to make a difference in the lives they serve. During …

Volunteering in a Garden Brings Friendship, Peace and Beauty

Ronnie Gardstein dons her gardening gloves and pulls her pruning shears out of her gardening bag. A beautiful and overgrown pendula, or weeping hornbeam, is in her sights. She sits in the middle of the U.S. National Arboretum’s Asian Collections, eager to begin her volunteer work on a beautiful spring morning. “It’s an honor,” says Gardstein, 64, as she snips a wayward branch, referring to the privilege of spending one morning a week at the Arboretum’s 446 acres of cultivated …