A note from Jay Cranman, Hands On Atlanta President and CEO

I woke up Saturday morning with a heavy heart, missing a man I never met, but has made the most profound impact on my life.  George H.W. Bush was a president and the father of a president. He was a decorated veteran, an athlete, a business-man, and a hard-nosed political candidate. He was a modest man who served as president for four of the most important years in our modern history.  And for many in our community, that is where his legacy will end.

But for me, 41’s most striking accomplishment and his true legacy is his unwavering belief in the power of ordinary citizens to do extraordinary things. He called them “points of light”. From his first day in office, he devoted special attention to community service as a means of helping solve some of America’s most serious problems. 

We are a nation of communities … a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky,
— President George H.W. Bush

He was the first president in history to establish a White House office exclusively charged with this work, and he often used his “bully pulpit” to highlight the service movement. In 1990, in response to his calls to action, Points of Light Foundation was created as an independent organization to encourage and empower the spirit of service. 

At roughly the same time as Bush was giving his inaugural address, Hands On Atlanta was organizing it’s first service project at the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

In 1992, Hands On Atlanta partnered with New York Cares and Greater DC Cares to create an umbrella organization, which later merged with Points of Light becoming the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer and service.

Service and volunteerism is in our heart and in our soul. It is a part of our city’s DNA. For me, it’s hard to think about Atlanta and not think about our most notable community leaders. Dr. King, John Lewis, President Carter, Shirley Franklin… the list of my heroes goes on and on.


As someone born and raised here, I’m one of our city’s biggest fans, cheering on everything from Atlanta United to the Atlanta Beltline. But I’m also one of our city’s biggest critics. I truly believe our reality is far from the potential of what we could be. We continue to have the highest income inequality in the country, 1 in 4 kids still live in food insecure homes, and only about a third of our 3rd graders are reading at grade-level. Not to mention health outcomes, homelessness, affordable housing, human trafficking, and a hundred other challenges. In short, our community needs your help.

President Bush understood the power of communities coming together, and devoted special attention to highlighting individuals who stepped up. In doing so, he ignited a spirit of volunteerism, and inspired millions to be points of light in communities across the globe.

In these divisive times, we need ways to come together across differences, to stand side by side for something greater than ourselves. Today, I’m asking you to roll up your sleeves and unite in service by volunteering with Hands On Atlanta on Saturday, December 15 at one of our partner elementary schools for our Discovery program.

Our community needs you Atlanta. Now more than ever, we need you to be a point of light. 

Learn more about Discovery and sign up to volunteer on Sat. December 15.

Can’t make it December 15? Click here to view our calendar of volunteer opportunities.