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Topeka man headed to White House as finalist for prestigious award

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Brian Jude Quinn will be honored by President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and former President George H. W. Bush for his work with the non-profit SilverbackKS. Brian Jude Quinn will be honored by President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and former President George H. W. Bush for his work with the non-profit SilverbackKS.
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TOPEKA, KS (KCTV) -

A Topeka man is headed to the White House as a finalist for a prestigious award for people who do volunteer work in their community.

Brian Jude Quinn will be honored by President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and former President George H. W. Bush for his work with the nonprofit SilverbackKS.

The group grabbed the attention of the Points of Light foundation for their work in Topeka.

SilverbackKS works closely with other nonprofits to find volunteers the organizations often desperately need. They also work closely with the homeless population.

"We drove around passing out water bottles. It was about 106 degrees. We decided to go and just pass out water to the homeless. We just went out looking. We found Hermon," Quinn said.

Hermon Staten is one of dozens of homeless people that are served lunch on Sundays by members of the SilverbackKS.

"I wanted to get involved in volunteering. I went to different organizations to try and help, but I really couldn't dedicate my time to one organization," Quinn said.

Quinn, the group's co-founder and president, found many of his friends were just like him. They were unsure of the best way to volunteer. That sparked an idea.

"We had a need here in Topeka, and we had organizations that were doing great things," Quinn said. "They are in dire need of help and volunteers, and then we have really good people here."

SilverbackKS connects the two groups. They send out alerts letting volunteers pick and choose when and how to give their time.

"An organization will contact us and say, 'We need three people on Thursday.' I'll send that out to the list and say, 'Who can make it,'" Quinn said.

They're making a difference. So much so that Quinn could possibly be awarded the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award at the White House on July 15.

"Being invited to the White House is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I'm really grateful for it," Quinn said.

Staten is grateful for members of the organization.

"They usually bring me cold cut sandwiches every Sunday. In the winter, they would bring me hot coffee," Staten said.

Organizers hope the idea catches on in other cities to connect volunteers with organizations who need them.

"It's people like that who come and give us a hand. It makes life a lot easier for us until better circumstances come by," Staten said.

The first Bush president established the award in 1990 to honor Americans for volunteer service. The name comes from his 1989 inaugural address description of Americans serving fellow citizens as "a thousand points of light."

Bush plans to attend with wife, Barbara; son Neil, and other members of his family, although his son, former President George W. Bush, is not planning to come. Also scheduled to attend is the Points of Light CEO, Michelle Nunn, considering a Democratic campaign for U.S. Senate in Georgia.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.)  All rights reserved.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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