Why Obama is hosting former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara at the White House today

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WASHINGTON–President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle welcome back to the White House on Monday former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, plus members of the Bush family. Bush 41 is returning to the White House for events honoring the “Points of Light” volunteer program he created.

Obama today will also announce the creation of a new federal task force to find new private-public partnerships to encourage volunteering as part of a “strategy for tackling national priorities.”

Below, release from the White House..


  • On Monday, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will host former President George H.W. Bush, former First Lady Barbara Bush, and members of the Bush family for an event to honor the 5,000th Point of Light Award. Points of Light – the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service – engages 4 million volunteers in 30 million hours of service each year through affiliates in 250 cities and partnerships with thousands of nonprofits and corporations. The Daily Point of Light Award, first established by President H.W. Bush in 1989, celebrates the power of the individual to spark change and improve the world.
  • This event brings together two Presidents and families united in their commitment to growing volunteerism and service – an issue with a long history of strong bipartisan support. President Bush, the honorary chairman of Points of Light, also served as one of 16 honorary co-chairs of President Obama’s first Inauguration, during which the Obamas launched a new Inaugural tradition: the National Day of Service. Points of Light also has a unique record of bringing people together – just a few weeks ago Donna Brazile introduced Bill O’Reilly and danced with Karl Rove at the 2013 Points of Light Conference on Volunteering and Service. Prior to the event, the Obamas will join President Bush and his family for lunch.
  • The recipients of the 5000th Daily Point of Light Award are Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton, a retired couple and farm owners from Union, Iowa, who are the founders of a nonprofit that delivers free meals to children suffering from hunger in more than 15 countries, including the United States. Floyd and Kathy launched Outreach after taking a trip to Tanzania, where they stopped at a volunteer mission to help renovate an HIV/AIDS clinic at a village hospital and saw children dying from malnutrition. Nine years later, Outreach has marshaled thousands of volunteers to help assemble and distribute more than 232 million free meals to children around the world. Presidents Obama and Bush will together present Floyd and Kathy with their award. Michelle Nunn, the CEO of Points of Light and Neil Bush, the organization’s chairman, will also participate in the ceremony.
  • During the ceremony, President Obama will also announce the creation of a new federal task force with representatives from cabinet agencies to identify additional ways that the public and private sectors can partner together to support national service as a strategy for tackling national priorities. The task force will be established under a new Presidential Memorandum on Expanding National Service that builds directly on the bipartisan spirit of the Serve America Act, and will be chaired by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the White House Domestic Policy Council.
  • The President’s establishment of this task force builds on the Administration’s commitment to using national service as a solution for pressing challenges. Over the past year, CNCS has launched several innovative partnerships with federal agencies, including FEMA Corps, a new 1,600 member AmeriCorps program solely devoted to disaster response that also saves significant taxpayer dollars and School Turnaround AmeriCorps, a partnership between the Department of Education and AmeriCorps that will bring more than 650 new AmeriCorps members into some of our lowest-performing schools this fall to work on to boosting student academic achievement, attendance, high school graduation rates, and college and career readiness.


From his first day in office, President Bush devoted special attention to voluntary community service as a means of helping solve some of America’s most serious social problems. His leadership resulted in the creation of the Points of Light Foundation, the Commission on National and Community Service, and the National Center for Community Risk Management and Insurance, as well as the recognition of thousands of volunteers whose stories are shared widely as examples to others.

Many say the modern national service movement began with President Bush’s signing of the National and Community Service Act of 1990, the first piece of federal national service legislation in almost 20 years. This Act established the Commission on National and Community Service, which has been the foundation upon which President Clinton grew AmeriCorps, President George W. Bush extended the USA Freedom Corps and President Obama expanded national service through the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.

Like the Bushes, the Obamas’ commitment to service and volunteerism runs very far back – and is an issue they have championed since their first days in office. As part of their 2009 Inauguration and in commemoration of MLK day and MLK’s legacy, the Obamas launched the first ever National Day of Service, a tradition they continued again at their second Inauguration in 2013. President George H.W. Bush served as one of 16 honorary co-chairs of President Obama’s first Inauguration, along with former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

President Obama expanded AmeriCorps through measures such as signing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in 2009. The Act also created a Social Innovation Fund that will invest in ideas that are proven to improve outcomes and “what works” funds in federal agencies to promote effective and innovative programs. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act also included $201 million in funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service to support an expansion of AmeriCorps State and National and AmeriCorps VISTA programs. In addition to creating, FEMA Corps, School Turnaround Corps and STEM AmeriCorps – a multi-year initiative inspire young people to excel in science, technology, engineering and math to build the pipeline for future STEM careers – he also launched the Serve.gov platform to make it easier for Americans to find and post local volunteer opportunities.


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