by Melissa Brunner
I vaguely recall the quote from Pres. George H.W. Bush's inaugural address in 1989. I was in high school, but it was one of those defining calls to action which you had to be totally tuned out to avoid hearing. The first Pres. Bush had a vision of a "thousand points of light," bright spots in their communities, reaching out to help their communities.
The next year, he would begin presenting a daily "Point of Light" award, to recognize someone shining brightly through their service. Today, he joined Pres. Obama at the White House to present number 5000. Among those in the audience was winner 4851, Brian "Jude" Quinn of Topeka.
Quinn hasn't always been a Topekan, but it is here that he's chosen to shine his light and, in doing so, he'll say he's helping others shine their lights. The people whose lives he's chosen to illuminate are people who are homeless. It all started with the thought that perhaps they would need water on a hot day. It grew into the group SilverbackKS. Now, each Sunday, Quinn leads a group of volunteers every Sunday, handing out water and sandwiches and coffee and other items to people in need.
Quinn's concept is simple - you don't need to have a lot of time to make a difference. Join him for a couple hours late on Sunday mornings and see the impact you can have. His influence has spread to other SilverbackKS efforts - collecting prom dresses for teens or bras for women because, frankly, it's a need that often goes unmet.
It is so simple, but so effective. A bottle of water may not sound like much, but it makes a person who often feels forgotten feel human, feel like someone cares. That's another part of Quinn's personal focus - to shake each person's hand because that simple act gives them a measure of dignity. For those whom society often deems untouchable, that human contact is a signal their life does matter.
No, I have not personally joined Quinn's Sunday crusade, but I follow the SilverbackKS efforts each week on Twitter. I even cleaned out my closet (much to my husband's delight!) during their prom dress drive earlier this year. Their efforts are inspiring and we are blessed to have these "points of light" shining brightly in the Capital City.