Remarks to Representatives of Volunteer Youth Groups
The President. Thank you all very much. It's a pleasure to welcome all of you here to the White House for the kickoff to National Volunteer Week. I know we're across the street from it, but they still consider this part of the White House.
to help your neighbor is an old American tradition -- and among our most
distinctive traditions. From the time of our founding to the present, it's one
of the things that foreign visitors most often note when they come to visit
this country. You may know of one foreign visitor, a
Frenchman -- maybe you've heard of him -- called Alexis de Tocqueville. He
yes, as de Tocqueville saw so clearly, voluntarism -- and
what some of us call private sector initiatives -- go hand in hand with
freedom. I like to think that helps explain why in the last 8 years Americans
have been volunteering more than ever. In these years when we've pulled back
the hand of government and increased personal freedom, we have also seen a
revolution of compassion sweep our land. Charitable giving has soared by 77
percent, and more Americans than ever before are volunteering their time to
help their community and those in need. The figure for just 1 year, last year,
as it was given to me, was that $84 billion was raised in the
can see this revolution of compassion, of course, at work in such longstanding
national organizations as the Red Cross and Project Hope and, here in the
Government, the Peace Corps. But even more, you can see it where the cameras
and microphones too often fail to turn -- in hometowns and neighborhoods,
churches, and synagogues. You can see it in
the revolution of compassion is, most of all, a
person-to-person revolution. It's Kevin Gounaud, 15,
know, when I hear stories like those of Andrea and all of you, I can't help
thinking that the people who talk about ours being a decade of greed ought to
be ashamed of themselves. They have so misheard the voices of American
compassion and the voices of
When I want to hear what our great nation is all about, I listen not to the cynics but to people like you. This year Americans are joining together to expand voluntarism beyond anything we've ever seen before. It's called Give 5, and it means why don't we all take it upon ourselves to give 5 hours a week and/or 5 percent of our income to charitable causes and worthy goals.
only is voluntarism national, it's becoming international. In just 2 weeks, in
know, I receive so many letters about things that are going on, and I just
received this morning a memorandum from within the White House staff there. And
I thought I would bring it along, since it came just before I came over here.
On Saturday, 29 White House staff members and friends participated in a special
preview project for Christmas in April, the annual program to repair the homes
of the poor, the elderly, and the handicapped. Now, that started as a local
thing in a town in Texas, where in April, all year long, the people go around
finding homes of the elderly or the aged -- or, I mean, of the poor or the
handicapped, that need work -- shingling of roof, painting, plumbing repairs,
and so forth. And then, in April volunteers from all over the city come forth,
and they go to these homes and do all of this work. They're amateurs at it, but
they're pretty handy also at it. I didn't know until I came to
additionally, Paolo Biscioni, an organizer of the
upcoming British-American Conference on Private Sector Initiatives, came from
Well, I thank you for it, and a great many other people thank you for all that you're doing. And God bless all of you. Thank you. I understand I'm just supposed to stand aside here for a moment, as something's going to happen.
Cobb. Thank you, Mr. President, for recognizing the accomplishments of the
youth volunteers. I am Kendalle Cobb, a youth
volunteer with the
To me, there are many wonderful things about volunteering, but one of the greatest is that volunteering always makes me feel that I can make a difference. Though many of us are still in high school, our effort can improve the quality of life of others and in so doing can better the world. Thank you for inspiring us and again reminding us that our future lies in helping one another. I agree with you, Mr. President, there is a revolution of compassion sweeping this country, and the youth of today will carry this revolution through the 21st century.
Now, on behalf of all youth volunteers across the country, I would like to present to you a Young America Cares T-shirt. We hope that you will treasure it, because when you care, you're among the very young at heart. Thank you.
The President. Thank you very much. Thank you all very much. God bless you. And you know something, I have a feeling that the 21st century, when another generation -- yours -- replaces all of us, things are going to be just fine not only in America but in the world. Thank you all very much.
Note: The President
spoke at in Room 450 of the