From a hut in Africa to the White House: Two presidents honor a couple’s work to fight hunger

Jonathan Karl & Jordyn Phelps
Power Players
From a hut in Africa to the White House: Two presidents honor a couple’s work to fight hunger

Politics Confidential

Around the time Kathy Hamilton and Floyd Hammer were planning their retirement, they took an eye-opening trip to Tanzania, and the couple decided they still had work to do.

“When you stand in a hut in Africa, and you witness a young man die ... there's no way to explain to you what the feeling is,” Hammer told Politics Confidential, standing outside the White House. “If we had had a meal with us, we might have saved that life.”

After that trip nearly 10 years ago, Hamilton and Hammer set out to combat hunger, starting a non-profit organization, Outreach, which now operates in more than 15 countries and has delivered more than 233 million free meals to children suffering from hunger.

And, in a rare White House event Monday, Hamilton and Hammer were recognized for their contributions to combating hunger by not just one, but two U.S. presidents. President Obama and President George H.W. Bush shared the stage in presenting the 5000th Point of Light Award to the couple.

The Point of Light Award was created by Bush in 1989 as a way to honor individuals who’ve made exceptional volunteer contributions, with a different person receiving the award every day since its creation.

Hamilton described the awards ceremony, and the fact that their work has been acknowledged by two presidents, as “incredibly awesome.”

“I just saw them and started crying,” Hamilton said of the moment she saw the presidents.

Hamilton says she hopes the award will inspire others to make a difference through volunteering.

“Now the world knows they can do something to help and it'll just be greater, the work that we can do with their help,” Hamilton said.

For more of the interview with this remarkable couple, and to hear about their behind-the-scenes moments with the two presidents and first ladies, check out this episode of Politics Confidential.

ABC's Mary Bruce, Alexandra Dukakis, Eric Wray, Hank Disselkamp, and Mark Rabin contributed to this episode.