New Faith-Based & Community Initiatives Director
The Roosevelt Room
The White House
February 1, 2002
9:18 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Thank you, all; please be seated. Well, welcome
to the Roosevelt Room in the White House. We're honored you all came; thanks
for being here.
I know all of you are here today to be a part of a great cause, and that is
how best to serve our neighbors in need and to serve our community and our country.
It really is to help change America, one heart, one soul, one conscience at
Our goal is to rally all Americans to our cause -- I mean all Americans. And
I'm proud to have an outstanding man in Jim Towey to join me on this cause.
First, I want to welcome the Towey family -- all of them. (Laughter.) Mary,
Jamie, Joe, Max and John. Welcome, guys. (Applause.) And I'm glad mom is with
us. Florence, welcome, sure glad to have you here.
And I want to welcome Your Eminence, Cardinal Bevilacqua; sure good to see you,
sir. I've had many a good heart-to-heart visit with His Eminence and I've always
come away a better person after having visited with him. Thank you for being
here. And I want to thank everybody else for being here, as well.
A year ago this week, I announced one of the most important commitments of my
administration, the Faith-Based and Community Initiative. The purpose was to
apply the compassion of America to help solve the problems of our country.
The purpose of this initiative recognizes the power of faith in helping heal
some of our nation's wounds. The purpose of this initiative is to rally the
armies of compassion which are spread throughout the United States of America.
The purpose of the initiative is to recognize our greatest strength -- the hearts
and souls of the American people -- and apply that strength to help solve problems
which afflict many of our citizens.
Since the attacks of September the 11th, it has become obvious to everyone how
essential the community and faith-based groups are to the well-being of our
nation. They have saved lives. They provide hope. They have helped heal the
We have a tremendous opportunity now to take the spirit and apply it to problems
like poverty and addiction, abandonment and abuse, illiteracy and homelessness.
These are incredibly tough problems. But I believe with the help of faith we
can solve the problems. I have faith that faith will work in solving the problems.
For the past year, the Office of the Faith-based and Community Initiatives has
done a terrific job. And I'm proud of the folks that worked in the office.
And today, I'm honored to name Jim Towey as its new head and new director. He
has served a Republican senator and a Democratic governor. He understands there
are things more important than political parties. And one of those things more
important than political parties is to help heal the nation's soul. He's run
a statewide Department of Health -- in other words, he's an administrator. He
also worked with Mother Teresa for more than a year -- for more than a decade.
He brings to the job managerial skills and a servant's heart. He will be a great
director, and I look forward to working with him to advance a bold initiative.
In the next year, Jim will work to eliminate barriers that discriminate against
community and faith-based organizations. Government cannot stand in the way
of the good works of the people in our neighborhoods.
Government must expedite and stand on the side of faith-based programs. We should
not discriminate at the federal level against people who are trying to help
us solve the nation's problems.
He'll work closely with members of Congress from both parties to pass legislation
that will put government squarely on the side of our faith- and community based
groups. Jim will have the full support of a new Advisory Council on Faith-Based
and Community Initiatives, in which he will participate along with five Cabinet
secretaries and Steve Goldsmith, the Chairman for the Corporation of National
and Community Service.
The Council will be chaired by USA Freedom Corps Director John Bridgeland. I
was proud to announce "Bridge" two days ago when he made his national
debut, and I must say he handled the pressure quite well. (Laughter.)
But he's a good fellow, who along with Jim is going to make an enormous difference
about fulfilling a vision that I truly believe is going to help America help
herself; is truly, going to believe, lift the spirit of this country.
After all, that's my job. My job is to unify our country around common, big
goals, and there is nothing more important than to help the hopeless see hope,
to help the addicted see a better life, to help the collective will of our country
to have a better tomorrow, realize its potential.
I'm so proud that Jim has decided to join our team. I'm grateful for your sacrifice
to your country. I love your heart. America will be better off by your service.
MR. TOWEY: Thank you very much, Mr. President. I'm deeply grateful to God and
to you, sir, for entrusting me with this honor to serve my country, particularly
those Americans who are hurting and in need. It's been my privilege to work
with the poor and to see firsthand the difference that charities and faith-based
organizations can make in their lives.
Mother Teresa introduced me to this joy that comes from befriending those in
need, and discovering their tremendous dignity. You speak often of this same
dignity, Mr. President, and your vision, both for the USA Freedom Corps and
for our office, is unleashing new armies of compassion that will change countless
lives, both of those who serve and those who are served.
I look forward to working with John Bridgeland and the fine staff of the Faith-based
and Community Initiatives Office. As we press ahead with your agenda, sir, I
am delighted, I am grateful, and I am looking forward to the work, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Good job, Jim; thank you. Thank you all for coming. (Applause.)