WASHINGTON (AP) – The trail honoring America’s great volunteers is easy enough to follow.

To reach the first bronze medallion – recognizing Goodwill Industries founder Edgar J. Helms – walk 50 feet up the sidewalk from 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, near the White House.

The Extra Mile-Points of Light Volunteer Pathway includes 20 markers dedicated to Frederick Douglass, Clara Barton, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Booker T. Washington and others. The design of the mile-long walk allows for expansion, with room for up to 70 markers.

At Friday’s dedication, former President George H.W. Bush said the examples of the monument’s honorees should serve as a compass for younger generations.

The pathway should signal that “greatness and goodness are not relegated to history books or confined to the existing monuments,” he said.

Bush, who famously spoke of “a thousand points of light” to honor charitable endeavors, said hurricanes Katrina and Rita have only increased the need for volunteers.

The pathway, administered by the Thousand Points of Light Foundation, is intended to be a national monument, foundation officials said. It was first conceived in 1991 and authorized by District of Columbia lawmakers in 1998. The construction and staffing have been privately funded.

Honorees are chosen from names submitted by the public by a nine-member committee.

Each bronze marker is 3½ feet in diameter, set in a six-foot square block of granite. It includes an image of the honoree, an description of his or her achievement and an inspirational quote. The foundation estimates that 1.7 million people will visit the trail each year.

“It’s been quite a journey,” said Habitat for Humanity co-founder Linda Fuller, who said she and her husband, Millard, were talking about divorce before starting their charity that has since built more than 200,000 homes. The Fullers and Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver are the only honorees still alive.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.