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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid