USA Freedom Corps Six-Month Anniversary
The East Room
The White House
July 30, 2002
2:08 P.M. EDT
Thanks. Thanks for coming to the White House. Welcome, and thanks so very much
for your good works and your commitment to serve others.
The men and women in this room, and the members of my administration are working
to foster a culture of service, citizenship, and of responsibility for decades
to come. You're part of a cultural change that will make America a much better
I -- today I'm going to announce some new steps that the USA Freedom Corps
will be taking to make service a more central part of American life. I want
to thank Gale Norton, a member of my Cabinet, the Secretary of the Department
of Interior, for being here. I appreciate one of the newest television stars,
Bob Dole -- (laughter) -- being here. Thank you, Senator. (Applause.) And
it's good to see my friend, Steve Goldsmith, who's the Chairman of the Board
of Directors of the Corporation of National and Community Service; and its
CEO, Les Lenkowsky. Thank you all for being here, as well.
I appreciate the many foundations and organizations who are represented here
today that have supported the Corporation for National Community Service,
the Network for Good, which is a nonprofit organization. It has been a strong
supporter of our call to service from the very start. I want to thank the
Walt Disney Company. I appreciate so very much the U.S. Department of Justice
for sending representatives here. I want to thank the UPS Foundation. I want
to thank Peggy Conlon, who is the President and the CEO of the Ad Council.
I want to thank the members of the Ad Council who have done some pretty good
work, as you'll see here in a minute.
I appreciate very much the USA Freedom Corps Volunteer Network members who
are here. I want to thank the representatives of television, print and radio,
You know, none of us would ever wish the evil that was done on September
the 11th; yet out of the tragedy can come great good. I believe that from
the bottom of my heart. Out of the evil done to America will come some good.
Challenging times test the character of individuals, and test the character
of our nation. In the aftermath of September the 11th, Americans have responded
with courage and compassion, with great resolve and determination.
The last ten months have offered us a glimpse of what a new culture of service
can be. And we're not going to let this moment pass. We'll sustain and extend
the best that has emerged in our country. And there are good reasons for every
American to serve our nation. We serve because it's important to our neighbors.
We understand that serving others meets needs that a government can never
fulfill. You see, government can hand out money, but it can't put hope in
people's hearts, or a sense of purpose in people's lives. The need for kindness,
and for understanding, and for love, is not a government function. It's a
human function. And that's why we serve our neighbor.
We serve because it's important to our own character. Acts of compassion
add direction and purpose to our lives. Serving something greater than yourself
in life is part of a fulfilling life. And finally, we serve because it's important
to our country. Our nation is the greatest force for good in history, and
we show our gratitude by doing our duty. We express our love for America by
Six months ago in my State of the Union address, I issued a call to service.
I asked every American to commit at least two years, 4,000 hours over the
rest of your life, to service for neighbors and our nation. To encourage service,
we established what we call the USA Freedom Corps, ably headed by John Bridgeland.
The USA Freedom Corps is matching potential volunteers with local charities.
It is encouraging participation in the new Citizen Corps, AmeriCorps, Senior
Corps, and the Peace Corps. We're promoting service to prepare for crises
at home, to strengthen our communities, to help people in need, and to extend
American compassion throughout the world.
The response to the call to service has been strong, and it can get stronger.
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. (Applause.)
I want to thank my fellow Americans for answering the call to service, because
Americans in record numbers are now being directed to local service opportunities.
Since the State of the Union address, more than 66,000 people have requested
applications for the Peace Corps -- 66,000. Applications to join AmeriCorps
are up by nearly 90 percent. More than 45,000 Americans have signed up to
participate in the new Citizen Corps. And visits to the Senior Corps web site
have increased by almost 60 percent.
Individuals and nonprofit organizations and businesses have stepped forward
to offer pledges and new commitments and ways in which citizens can meet the
two-year call. Businesses are offering employees annual paid leave to perform
community service. I think it's a movement that's just beginning here in the
country, and I want to thank those corporate leaders who understand that responsibility
not only to shareholders is important, but responsibility to communities in
which they exist is equally as important.
We're looking for ways to make service count positively in getting a job.
In other words, corporate America views that as an important part of a complete
employee. Promoting service is really what corporate responsibility means.
The United States Congress is also meeting its responsibilities. Congress
is providing $25 million this year to support Citizen Corps so that Americans
can be trained in emergency response, and can support first responders. Good
progress is being made to renew the promise of the Peace Corps, and double
the number of volunteers over the next five years.
I hope Congress will soon pass, so I can sign into law, the bipartisan citizen
service act, which incorporates many of the principles to strengthen and reform
national service programs. It should be an interest to members of Congress
that all 50 governors also have urged Congress to strengthen these important
programs. Congress needs to act, for the good of service for the United States.
Since January, this nation has made tremendous progress in serving others,
yet I full recognize more needs to be done. Today I'm pleased to announce
a public service advertising campaign, developed with the Corporation for
National and Community Service and the Ad Council. This campaign rests on
a single, simple principle: Everyone can do something.
And today I'm pleased to unleash the TV ads. It's a private showing, first
of its kind. (Laughter.) This is one part of an effort that includes radio
and print and the Internet. To support Americans who will respond to the call
to service, we are launching the new USA Freedom Corps Volunteer Network,
which is the most comprehensive volunteer clearinghouse ever. The network
connects Americans to service opportunities throughout more than 50,000 organizations,
including America's Promise and the National Mentoring Partnership, the Points
of Light Foundation, SERVEnet and the United Way and VolunteerMatch.
This network is now accessible through the newly redesigned USA Freedom Corps
web site, USAFreedomCorps.gov. If you want to serve in a soup kitchen or mentor
a child in your local community, call up the web page and you can find out
where to go. If you want to take a full year and serve in the Senior Corps,
America Corps, this is where you can find opportunity to do so. If you want
to help people overseas through the Peace Corps or other organizations, USAFreedomCorps.gov
will tell you what's available.
You know, one of the main reasons people give for not volunteering is that
no one has asked them to do so. I'm asking. (Applause.) Another reason is
they don't know where to start. This public service advertising campaign will
ask Americans to serve and, through the USA Freedom Corps web site, they have
a place to start.
These ads are important to America. And I urge television networks and major
affiliates and radio stations and newspapers to run them. By broadcasting
these PSAs, they promote the common good for our nation. By broadcasting these
PSAs, they will help show the world and our fellow Americans that, out of
the evil done to our country, can come some incredible good.
It's now my pleasure to play four new public service announcements featuring
some fine Americans. I'm not sure Mariano Rivera is an American citizen, but
he's a fine New York Yankee. (Laughter.) Angie Harmon, John Glenn, and Bob
Dole. So now we'll watch the PSAs.
(Videos are shown.) (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: I want to thank you all for coming. I hope you enjoy a little
reception we're throwing for you at the State Dining Room. But, in the meantime,
thank you for your love for the country. Thank you for helping people in need.
May God bless your work, and may God continue to bless America. Thank you
very much. (Applause.)