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.

Thank you,

Nipun Mehta