News / USA

Obama, Bush Highlight Importance of Volunteerism

President Barack Obama, right, with former President George H. W. Bush, left, present the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award to Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton, center, from Union, Iowa, in the East Room of the White House, Jul. 15, 2013.
President Barack Obama, right, with former President George H. W. Bush, left, present the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award to Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton, center, from Union, Iowa, in the East Room of the White House, Jul. 15, 2013.
Former U.S. president George H. W. Bush was back at the White House Monday for an event recognizing the work of a volunteer service organization he founded in 1989.  "Bush 41," as he is known, and President Barack Obama honored a couple for their volunteer work tackling global hunger.  
 
George Herbert Walker Bush visited the Obama White House last year, and in 2011 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded to recognize "Bush 41's" commitment to public service.
 
As the nation’s 41st president in 1989, Bush established the Points of Light Foundation, dedicated to his lifelong passion of expanding volunteer service and encouraging individuals to spark change.
 
On Monday he returned with former first lady Barbara Bush, to join President Barack Obama in honoring recipients of the 5,000th Point of Light Award.
 
Growing out of anti-AIDS work in Tanzania, a non-profit company that Iowa couple Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton started provides free meals to hungry children around the world.
 
"Outreach has distributed free meals to hungry children here in the U.S. and more than 15 countries worldwide.  To date, more than 233 million meals.  They have gotten to see many of the kids that they met grow up healthy and strong," Obama said. "This work they say is the most rewarding thing they have ever done.  And I have to say that having just been to Tanzania with Michelle, we can attest to how important this kind of work is, how it changes lives." 
 
Kathy Hamilton spoke about the importance of volunteerism.
 
"As we have seen time and time again, when people give of themselves, when they share the burden and they share the task of solving it, life shines, love grows, all over the world, and here at home.  Thank you so much," she said. 
 
Obama, the 44th president, and "Bush 41," who was in a wheelchair during Monday's event, last saw each other in April at the dedication of the George W. Bush presidential library in Dallas, Texas. 
 
Obama recognized steps the former president took to strengthen the tradition of service, including creating the first White House office dedicated to promoting volunteerism.
 
"Thanks to those programs and others like them and thanks to the passion of leaders like President Bush and citizens who found the same passion over the years, volunteerism has gone from something some people do some of the time to something lots of people do as a regular part of their lives," he said. 
 
Former president Bush spoke briefly. "First I, of course, thank President and Mrs. Obama for this wonderful hospitality.  It is like coming home for Barbara and me, with the rest of you, just coming to this magnificent house, and being greeted by this superb hospitality, knows no bounds," he said. 
 
Obama has made volunteerism a major theme of his presidency.  He said he was one of millions who were inspired by Bush's passion and commitment, and "how bright a light you shine."
 
The president also used Monday's event to announce a new federal task force designed to increase public and private sector cooperation to support his goal of expanding national service.
 
In 2009, Obama signed legislation to triple by the end of 2017 the size of the AmeriCorps volunteer service program created under former president Bill Clinton.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs