- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 8, 2005

Points of light in the form of medallions bordered in black granite are being set in District sidewalks to honor some of the country’s most tireless volunteers.

The project, known as the Extra Mile — Points of Light Volunteer Pathway, will feature as many as 70 sidewalk medallions honoring such civic activists as Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez.

The project name is a tribute to former President George Bush’s belief that volunteer work spreads across the country like “a thousand points of light.”

“We hope to educate and inspire people to follow the example of these honorees at a time when there has been an interest and commitment to volunteering,” said Robert K. Goodwin of the Points of Light Foundation, which is sponsoring the project.

The umbrella-sized medallions are being placed along a one-mile path that encompasses Pennsylvania Avenue and G, 11th and 15th streets in Northwest. Each will include bas-relief renderings of the honoree, a quotation and a brief description of his or her achievements.

Mr. Goodwin said the prominent and well-traveled path, just blocks from the White House, should help draw about 2 million persons annually to see the medallions.

About 20 of the medallions will be ready for a ceremony Friday that is expected to include former President George Bush.

Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross; William D. Boyce, founder of the Boy Scouts of America; and Mr. Chavez, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, are among those being honored with a medallion.

The total cost of the project is about $3 million, and the foundation so far has raised $1.5 million through private sources, Mr. Goodwin said.

The idea for the medallions started about 14 years ago with John Johansen, who wanted a memorial to philanthropic Americans to stand among those in the city already honoring others who help shaped U.S. history.

“It’s a very important part of our cultural history,” Mr. Johansen said.

Philanthropists and volunteers are “completely unrepresented in the monumental pantheon in Washington,” he said.

The foundation was started in 1990 as a White House program, then eventually merged with the Make a Difference foundation in support of the monument.

Among those also expected to attend the dedication ceremony are D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, artist Thomas Kinkade and Nettie Washington Douglass — the great-granddaughter of civil rights activist Booker T. Washington and the great-great-granddaughter of abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

“To attend a dedication honoring both of them at the same time is just unbelievable,” Mrs. Douglass said. “Anything that sees fit to honor either one of them for their outstanding accomplishments pleases the family tremendously.”


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