Remarks at the Presentation Ceremony for the President's Volunteer Action Awards
The President. Good afternoon, and welcome to the White House. It's my honor to be here today to award the 1988 President's Volunteer Action Awards. When we came to Washington 7 years ago, one of our goals was to restore the promise of hope upon which our great nation was founded, to once again have communities where neighbor helps neighbor and the spirit of caring is put into action by ordinary citizens.
In 1982 we presented the first Volunteer Action Awards to recognize and honor those citizens who had dedicated themselves to these ideals. Since then, thousands and thousands of applications have been received telling of Americans who give generously of themselves to aid their fellow man. Each is worthy of recognition, but you, the winners of the Volunteer Action Awards, are unique. Through your lives and the principles that you uphold, you set an example, not just for your communities but the Nation and the world. You've made the words ``I can't'' obsolete and have brought hope that doesn't disappoint to those in need. To many of you, service to your fellow man is not just part of your life but has become your life's work.
the wife of an Army colonel stationed in
91 most of us would be content to retire, but Arnolta
Williams, or ``Mama'' Williams, as she is known in
And it makes me proud as I look around the room to see the familiar faces of my friends from the entertainment industry like Martha Lyles, who works with SHARE, another of today's award recipients.
Eisenhower said: ``There is nothing wrong with
the last time that I will bestow these prestigious awards, so before I close,
I'd like to recognize two gentlemen who have dedicated themselves to promoting
voluntarism in our country, Governor George Romney and W. Clement Stone. W.
Clement Stone, born into poverty in
Governor, and Clem, thank you.
And now if Donna Alvarado, our Director of ACTION, and Governor Romney will step forward, we'll present the Volunteer Action Awards.
Ms. Alvarado. Mr. President, Mrs. Reagan, in response to the call you issued to the American people from the beginning of your administration to reach out and assist their neighbors and according to the inspiring example of volunteer service to the Nation that has been set by that extraordinary lady who is ever at your side, I am pleased to introduce to you the 18 outstanding volunteers you have selected to receive the 1988 President's Volunteer Action Awards.
First, the Red River Revel Arts Festival involves over 3,000 volunteers in the 8-day festival, which provides a variety of arts experiences for more than 300,000 people who attend annually. Accepting for Red River Revel is James Montgomery, president.
Zachary Fisher has been the leading force in the development of the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum located on the U.S.S. Intrepid, and of the Veterans Bedside Network. He formed the Elizabeth and Zachary Fisher Armed Forces Charitable Foundation to provide scholarship assistance to members of the armed services and their families. Zachary Fisher.
Verlyn and Martha Roskam founded Educational Assistance Unlimited, a unique barter program which matches goods contributed by corporations with colleges which need the items with the cash value of the contributions given as scholarships by the colleges in the name of the companies. Accepting for Verlyn and Martha Roskam is their son, Peter Roskam.
Thomas W. Evans founded the Mentor Program, which matches high school students with law firms to teach them the workings of the law and has led in the development of the National Symposium on Partnerships in Education. Thomas W. Evans.
Kaye Kiker was instrumental in the formation of Alabamians for a Clean Environment and has been the leader in educating local residents about the impact of the Nation's largest toxic-waste landfill located in their county. Kaye Kiker.
Mission Air Ministries, founded in 1981, provides no-cost air transportation to hospitals and medical centers for over 200 patients each year. Mission Air pilots and medical personnel are among the more than 400 volunteers involved in this program. Accepting for Mission Air is Donald Simpson, founder.
Gallimore, who has worked in nursing for 24 years,
has housed over 20 people with AIDS in the house adjacent to her own home,
providing meals, care, and support and serving as their adopted family. The
home is the only facility for nonambulatory people
with AIDS in the
Arnolta ``Mama'' Williams has been a volunteer leader
in her community of
SHARE Incorporated, an organization of 100 women from the entertainment industry, annually raises over $1 million through special events to provide grants to 28 organizations that serve mentally disabled and abused children. Accepting the award is Miriam Nelson Meyers, one of SHARE's founders.
Mosbacher, Jr., was instrumental in the development
of the InfoNet Task Force, which provides referral
and information services to the unemployed in the
Hodges, who resides with her husband in
Luis Gomez has been providing no-cost medical care to more than 50 people with
1987 International Summer Special Olympics Committee involved over 23,000
volunteers in the games held in
Roberta R. Roper founded the Stephanie Roper Committee and Foundation in memory of her daughter, in order to develop and guarantee victims' rights in the court system and to provide assistance to crime victims and their families. Roberta Roper.
Comeback is sponsored by
First Bank System, Community First Program of Minneapolis involves over 2,000 employee volunteers in 23 community service programs which have provided nearly 600,000 hours of volunteer service in 1987. Accepting for the Community First Program is D.H. Ankeny, chairman and CEO of First Bank System.
Time, Incorporated, Time to Read Program involves over 500 employee volunteers who tutored more than 600 functionally illiterate adults and young people in reading at 20 sites in 1987, using specially designed curriculum and popular reading material published by Time, Incorporated. Accepting for Time to Read is Donald M. Wilson, corporate vice president.
finally, the Barberton Free Clinic was developed by the Council of Labor to
provide free medical assistance to unemployed residents of the
now, Mr. President, we have a special addition to the program, which may come
as a bit of a surprise to you. For the past 6 years, Presidential Volunteer
Action Awards have been conferred at ceremonies here in the East Room of the
White House. This program was created by you to recognize and reward the best
Mr. President, the volunteer community of this country would like to do some
thanking of its own. To represent the millions of volunteers across this
country, we have asked Mr. Bobby Trimble to join us today. Bobby was recognized
at the very first President's Volunteer Action Awards Luncheon for a program he
created called Christmas in April. It did not have much national recognition
back then in 1982, but through your assistance, it has spread all across
Trimble. As you can tell, I'm a little bit nervous. [Laughter] What an honor.
It feels good. I'm president of the Christmas in April program in
Let me give you just a little bit -- so many people say, well, what is Christmas in April? So, I always like to explain just a little bit in a short, short way. We take volunteers from all walks of life, buy the materials for them, and let them overhaul an old, beat-up house. And it's amazing what volunteers who've had no experience of being a carpenter or a roofer or a plumber or a painter -- to see what they can do to an old house. But then you get the question: ``I have no skills.'' So, the first thing you do -- put them on the trash details. [Laughter] The next year, I guarantee you, that person will have a skill when they came back to work. [Laughter] So, if that -- try that in your community when somebody tells you they have no skills.
-- but Mr. President, so like so many successful volunteer programs in this
country, Christmas in April began as an idea of what one town could do for its
neighbors in need. Today it has spread across the country; new programs are
beginning each year. I believe Christmas in April has spread because of the
recognition Mrs. Reagan gave me 6 years ago when I received their Volunteer
Action Award. As a result, a lot more people heard about our program and wanted
to find out how to get it started in their community. But Mr. President, what
you have done goes far beyond simply presenting awards to volunteer programs.
Your leadership has helped to renew an old American tradition of neighbor
helping neighbor. You have inspired the Nation to reach for the best in itself,
and to devote its energies to making our communities, our nation, and the world
a better place. Under your Presidency, voluntarism and charitable giving in our
country have reached an all-time high. And it hasn't stopped here. In the past
few years, we have seen a tremendous interest by other countries who have
observed what has happened in
President, today I've a special honor. On behalf of millions of volunteers in
now, I would like to present you with the first strike of the Ronald Reagan
Award for Volunteer Excellence. And in future years, the recipient of this
award will be selected personally by the President of the
Mr. President, I would ask you to announce the first recipient of the Ronald Reagan Award for Volunteer Excellence. [Laughter]
The President. Well, I couldn't be more proud. The winner of the Ronald Reagan Award for Volunteer Excellence goes to ``Mama'' Williams. Well, I -- yes, I was surprised. I am very much surprised. But also -- --
Ms. Williams. Great-great-grandmother's surprised too. [Laughter]
The President. And
very proud. And proud of all of you and grateful to
all of you. I'd like to just stay here and talk to you all afternoon,
Ms. Williams. Don't you make another joke like that. [Laughter]
Mrs. Reagan. That's right! [Laughter]
Mrs. Reagan. Did you hear what she said?
The President. No. What?
Ms. Williams. Don't make another joke like that. [Laughter]
The President. ``Mama'' -- well, ``Mama'' Williams, that may not be as much of a joke as you think. Because -- [laughter] -- one of the better jobs I had in my entire life, working my way through Eureka College, was washing dishes in the girls dormitory. [Laughter]
Ms. Williams. That was before you were married. [Laughter]
The President. Yes. [Laughter] Well, again, God bless you all. Thank you all for what you've done. And this is -- and as you've heard here today and those that have spoken already -- all of this is going around the world, too, because there have been meetings abroad. And as a matter of fact, at the economic summit a year ago in Venice, Italy, between meetings, I was invited to a house and found myself looking at some Americans who were there, and who were helping Italy with their implementation of a private enterprise program of their own, so that they could do things as you do, without waiting to see if government's going to do them first. And this is spreading all over the world, and it all started right here under that grand old flag.
So, God bless all of you, and thank you.
Note: The President spoke at in the East Room at the White House.