16:05 PM

UHD President, First Lady Participate in 2015 Points of Light Conference

Thousands of people crossed geographical and political boundaries to come together last week for the 2015 Points of Light Conference on Volunteering and Service in Houston. UHD President Dr. Bill Flores, and First Lady Dr. Noël Bezette-Flores, were among participants at the global conference, serving as host committee members and education presenters and panelists.

"UHD is honored to be co-organizers of the first-ever Higher Education track at the POL Conference. Noel and I are honored to have been named as Daily Points of Light for volunteerism and service," Flores said. "Together with Liz Darling, CEO/President of Texas' OneStar Foundation, we introduced the idea of adding an educational track at this conference. Due to the level of engagement and feedback at the education tracks, we feel certain education, as it relates to service, will be integrated into the conference agenda for subsequent years."

The couple participated in several panels. They also discussed community engagement, community service and partnerships with the City of Houston to help solve or research issues and problems.

In President Flores' presentation "Forming the Citizens of Tomorrow, Today — Lessons of an Engaged University," he gave an overview of UHD and the University's commitment to community engagement and service learning. The presentation culminated with a panel featuring Dr. Maria Bhattacharjee, Associate Professor of Urban Education, Dr. Poonam Gulati, Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service, Learning, Student Government Association President, John Locke, and community leader Karine Parker-Lemoyne, Executive Director of the Texan French Alliance for the Arts. They shared information about projects leading to the Carnegie Designation; President's Honor Roll; and UHD's impact on the community in terms of number of volunteers, hours volunteered and financial impact.

"In a letter to conference attendees, former U.S. President George H.W. Bush wrote, 'As we come together in service, we discover what unites us, what lifts lives, what truly matters.' In reading his letter, this quote served to reinforce the bond Noël and I feel with the UHD community and the city as a whole," Flores said. "This bond exists because of the acts of service in which we as individuals and a university engage, and the way in which the UHD community produces and provides so many points of light."

The conference was held at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Featured speakers included Mayor Annise Parker, Neil Bush, chairman of Points of Light; Tracey Hoover, CEO of Points of Light; and Wendy Spencer, CEO of Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

The audience comprised of university representatives throughout Texas; Wisconsin; Washington, DC; and North Carolina; and representatives from nonprofit organizations. The conference also included workshops targeting corporate, nonprofit, education, faith-based organizations and forums and activities focusing on literacy, followed by a global reception.

Points of Light is the leading organization that helps millions of volunteers change the world. The organization prepares people to take action on causes that are dear to their hearts through innovative programs, campaigns and events. Points of Light is building a culture of volunteerism, one that commemorates the power of service.