Americans have a tradition of giving and being generous: More than 80 percent of money raised by U.S. charities is raised by individuals, Peter says. "One person—one act—can change a life," he says. "If there were ever a time in the world when we had to look beyond ourselves to change the globe, now is the time that each of us needs to step up." Peter talks with people who have dedicated their lives to helping others, including Stephen Paletta, winner of the reality show Oprah's Big Give.
After winning Oprah's Big Give, Stephen hasn't stopped giving big. With his winnings from the reality TV show, which followed 10 contestants in a quest to outgive each other, Stephen founded Stephen's Journey Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to showcasing social entrepreneurs and organizations around the world.
"What has inspired me the most is that there are individuals who do so much more than I could ever dream of, and those are the people that really inspire me the most," he says. "I want to be able to take this light and shine it on others and say, 'World, look, you can really find unbelievable people that are going to change the world because of the things they're doing.'"
For those who want to get involved, Stephen says to first get connected to something: a cause, a purpose or person. "Once you establish that connection, philanthropy becomes a more natural part of your life," he says.
Peter also talks with Pi Kappa Phi fraternity brothers Adam Van Treese and Steve Golden, who are spending their summer biking across the United States in Push America's Journey of Hope cycling trip, which aims to raise money for people with disabilities. "It really is the summer of a lifetime," Steve says. "We wake up and push ourselves to new challenges. You grow every day, knowing that you're helping others, getting out there and doing some good in the world."
Peter also talks with Greg Mortenson, co-founder of Central Asia Institute, which promotes literacy programs for students, especially young girls, in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. "It's been so inspiring because there's such a fierce desire for education," Greg says. Greg also started Pennies for Peace, a program implemented in schools around the world that encourages children to donate pennies to support organizations.
Published on July 31, 2008