Nipun Mehta received the Jefferson Award in June 2001 for Public
Service; below is his acceptance speech given in Washington D.C.
Dear Friends In Service,
We are all aware of the Digital Divide but there is another
divide which is growing at an alarming rate around us -- the divide
between the Internet and the Inner-net. In the new economy, the
Internet economy, everything has to be bigger, better and faster, but
to what end? With this new found "success", we have also found
an unparalleled amount of dissatisfaction, greed, and confusion.
In the Silicon Valley, dot-coms are now labeled dot-bombs. We have
to make sure these bombs don't explode in our own faces.
CharityFocus, then, is a bridge between the Internet and the
inner-net. At a tangible level, CharityFocus volunteers build
web solutions for nonprofits. For free. If nonprofits had web
solutions, they'd be able to reach out to the world, reduce costs,
accept online donations, and streamline many processes but they
generally don't have these resources. Enter CharityFocus volunteers
-- helping others help others. Since our start two years back
with 5-10 volunteers, we have served over 650 requests with the
help of over 1000 volunteers. The value of these services is in
the millions of dollars but really, there's much more to it than that.
CharityFocus is an incubator of compassionate action, as we
often call it, which gives volunteers an opportunity to give -- to
reconfigure their inner-net. It's not about technology;
it's just about plain ol' compassion. In fact, to celebrate our
two-year anniversary last weekend, we shared our time and hearts
with the homeless in San Francisco, as we distributed lunches on
the streets. The idea is to simply reconnect with your own heart.
And being fully volunteer run, CharityFocus itself is an incredible
testimonial to that spirit of service.
I firmly believe that technology is not going to solve
the problems of the world; at best, it will change its face.
The Internet is an incredible tool but until we solve the problem
within our Inner-net, we won't know how to use it. The day all of
us can drop all our images, achievements and accolades and smile at
the world with genuine selfless compassion, we will have solved our
problems. That's a tall task but the good news is that inner change
doesn't start with the masses but in the heart of the individual.
In my heart. In your heart. Right here, right now.