Good morning. In all of the trials we have faced this past year, countless acts
of generosity and sacrifice have revealed the good heart of our nation. Time
and time again, our country has shown the strength of its character by responding
to acts of evil with acts of good. And in coming weeks, I ask all citizens to
answer the call to help those in need, and make this month a September of Service.
I created USA Freedom Corps, a single organization, to encourage and assist
Americans in finding service opportunities both locally and around the globe;
to harness and put to good use the service and idealism we saw after the attacks
of September the 11th. In addition, I called on all Americans to enlist in the
armies of compassion and dedicate at least 4,000 hours in service to their communities,
our country, and to the world.
The response to the call to service has been strong. VolunteerMatch, a group
that matches volunteers to charities on the USA Freedom Corps web page, reports
that referrals have increased by more than 70 percent over last year. Requests
for Peace Corps volunteer applications have increased 40 percent over the same
period last year. Online AmeriCorps applications are up by 95 percent since
January. And more than 48,000 individuals have signed up on line to participate
in the newly created Citizens Corps program.
The response we have seen is more than numbers, though. It is a reminder that
when people help each other, our entire nation benefits. As I have traveled
across the country, I have met with volunteers who have set an example with
their uplifting acts of service -- volunteers like Maxine Phipps, a 95-year-old
Iowan who mentors and tutors local children through an online book club. She
uses her computer skills as she and her students read and discuss books about
the importance of citizenship. Or Star Wallin, a college freshman from Mississippi
who founded Project CARE in 1999. Project CARE is an organization that has impacted
so many lives through activities such as matching elementary school students
with high school mentors; collecting food, clothing, and furniture for impoverished
families; and helping to refurbish the grounds of local public schools.
I hope the work of these individuals and that of volunteers all across the country
inspires others, especially our young people. Young people have the energy and
determination to do important work, and volunteer service can teach them valuable
lessons about responsibility, community, and selflessness at an early age.
I urge our teachers and schools to begin service projects and activities in
September, and to make this new school year the start of a lifelong habit of
service to others. In an effort to assist educators and students in getting
started, we've developed a new guidebook, CD-ROM, and web site called Students
in Service to America. These resources offer valuable information about planning
service activities and working with community groups.
More than 130,000 public and private elementary and secondary home schools and
after-school programs throughout the country will receive these materials in
September. In addition, we will encourage AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps
volunteers to recruit more young people for service opportunities, and to work
closely with schools and community organizations to support in-school and after-school
programs. Through these efforts, young people will learn how important service
is to our nation, and how to get started today.
As September the 11th approaches, difficult memories of planes and buildings
will resurface. But so will images of brave individuals coming to the aid of
neighbors in need. That spirit of courage and selflessness has shown the world
why our nation is the greatest force for good in history. I urge all Americans
to honor the memory of those lost by serving others.