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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Ron Christie,
Acting Director of The Freedom Corps
January 30, 2004

Ron Christie
Hi. Great to be with you today for another edition of Ask the White House! Let's get right to your questions.

Ray, from Tampa, Florida writes:
Some teachers have told me that there is a huge need for volunteers in public school class rooms. Teachers need help with grading papers and working individually with struggling students. I would suggest doing some promotional work to bring volunteers into the class room. Senior citizens may be a good source of talent for this effort. Do you think USA Freedom Corps can help in this way?

Ron Christie
Great question. Volunteers can provide integral assistance to our teachers as well as working with students in the classroom who may need a little more one-on-one attention. As noted, many seniors around the country are looking for ways to share their experiences while serving within their communities. Senior Corps, a key component of the Corporation for National and Community Service, is an excellent program that provides opportunities for individuals, age 55 and older to serve. Senior Corps members draw upon their experience and talents to meet important community needs such as tutoring or mentoring at-risk youth, conducting neighborhood watch patrols, or providing assistance to homebound seniors. In 2003, 533,000 Senior Corps volunteers . 33,000 more volunteers than the year before -- volunteered to help local organizations provide a wide range of community services. President Bush has pledged to expand this program to 600,000 volunteers to provide more seniors with the opportunity to serve.

Nathan, from US Military, Germany writes:
First let me say that you have an incredible job to fulfill, and I wish you the best in all your endeavors. Now for my questions: Do you feel that the American spirit of volunteerism is growing? What programs are currently underway to help increase this spirit?

Ron Christie
First, let me thank you for your service to our country. I am very pleased to tell you that the American spirit of volunteer service is growing. Following September 11, 2001, our country has witnessed countless individuals who have stepped forward to volunteer their time, energy and talents to help their neighbors while helping their nation.

These selfless acts of kindness and compassion toward others have continued and more Americans are still volunteering each year. This past December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that more than 63 million Americans volunteered from September 2002 to September 2003, approximately 4 million more Americans volunteered compared to the prior 12-month period. This is a significant increase.

Since the President created the USA Freedom Corps, we have worked to expand access to volunteer opportunities through the USA Freedom Corps Volunteer Network . the largest and most comprehensive online clearinghouse of volunteer opportunities ever established. This Network now offers opportunities to volunteer with more than 75,000 organizations, up from 60,000 organizations offered in 2002. To find an opportunity near you, visit or call 1-877-USA-CORPS.

Matt, from Searcy, AR writes:
Who is going to win the super bowl?Pats or the cats.

Matt Searcy

Ron Christie
Similar to what my friend and colleague Dan Bartlett said the other week, you've gotta go with the defense...I think the Pats are on their way to victory, but this will be a tight game!

Liz, from New Mexico writes:
Hi Ron. I'm really excited about starting to volunteer, but do you know of anything I could do related to homeland security? I think that's an important issue right now, but it's sort of hard to find something in that area. I really want to help

Ron Christie
Excellent question, Liz. There are many exciting ways to participate in service activities in your community that pertain to Homeland Security. I would strongly suggest that you think about forming a citizen corps council in your community.

Housed within the Department of Homeland Security, Citizen Corps Councils are formed to mobilize Americans who are looking for exciting ways to serve their communities. Whether creating a Neighborhood Watch program, serving as a Volunteer in Police Service, or participating as a member of the Medical Reserve Corps (trained medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, and EMTs), there are many ways to serve while protecting our homeland.

In New Mexico, there is a state Citizen Corps council as well as 2 local councils in Sierra and Chavez counties. I encourage you to visit for additional information.

Melissa, from Wheaton, IL writes:
Do you find much time to relax? Or does life seem as busy at the White House as it appears with all the meetings and formal affairs?

Ron Christie
It is quite an honor to serve President Bush in the White House and the hours can be rather taxing. At the same time, Chief of Staff Andrew Card encourages the working environment here to be as family friendly as possible. I do get the chance to relax on the weekends.

Anne-Wesley, from Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America writes:
What accomplishments can be attributed to the Freedom Corps since its creation, and what is in store for the Freedom Corps in 2004?

Ron Christie
Yesterday afternoon, the USA Freedom Corps celebrated our two year anniversary. In the State of the Union address on January 29, 2002, President Bush issued a national Call to Service - urging all Americans to dedicate at least two years (or 4000 hours) over the course of their lifetime to serving others.

The response has been amazing: over the past two years, the number of communities served by Neighborhood Watch has grown significantly. Volunteers in Police Service (a component of Citizen Corps) has expanded from 76 police department programs to over 740 registered programs today. And the Peace Corps now has more than 7500 Americans serving abroad in more than 70 countries. Moreover, the Peace Corps has opened or re-opened programs in 14 countries over the past two years. The President has called for the number of Peace Corps volunteers to double over five years, and Director Gaddi Vasquez has done a remarkable job in ensuring the safety and security of the volunteers is the number one priority of the agency.

There is still much to do in the days ahead! We will continue to work with the public and private sector to provide meaningful service opportunities for Americans who wish to serve their country.

Ray, from Tampa, Florida writes:
Students need to get some initial experience, while in school, for their chosen career field. Can you establish some type of program where a formal certificate can be awarded to show that a student has obtained this experience while volunteering with USA Freedom Corps? This would look good on a resume, and help students when they start their job search.

Ron Christie
Last year, the President created the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation to recognize the achievements of those Americans who serve their communities. I would encourage you to visit the Corporation for National and Community Service website ( for additional information.

BryanandShawn, from Washington DC writes:
Ron, when will you show up at Ben's Chili Bowl with your friends?

Ron Christie
Yes, guys, we'll go to lunch soon!

Katie, from San Diego writes:
How is Freedom Corps important to the President? Why do enjoy being Director of the Freedom Corps?

Ron Christie
Freedom Corps is very important to President Bush. The President created the USA Freedom Corps to help Americans find volunteer opportunities in three areas of need: responding in case of crisis at home; rebuilding our communities; and extending American compassion around the world. The USA Freedom Corps is also working to help introduce citizens to volunteer opportunities in their local communities and strengthen national service programs . such as AmeriCorps . so that more Americans have the opportunity to serve so and ensure that these programs are more responsive to state and local needs.

My position has been very rewarding. The opportunity to travel around the country and meet amazing individuals who take their time to serve and help others has been a once in a life time experience.

Kishan, from Washington writes:
How is Freedom Corps different from Americorps?

Ron Christie
The USA Freedom Corps is a White House office and a Coordinating Council for service opportunities. We work closely with the Peace Corps, Citizen Corps (within Homeland Security) and the Corporation for National and Community Service to provide meaningful service opportunities for all Americans.

AmeriCorps is a specific program within CNCS that deploys participants to communities across the country to serve. Please visit for additional information.

Bob, from Burke, Virginia writes:
When will President Bush submit his '05 Budget to Congress?

Ron Christie
The President will unveil his FY 2005 budget to the American people on Monday, February 2nd. Stay tuned for additional details!

Michele, from Minneapolis, MN writes:
How often do people of your positions get to personally interact with President Bush?

Ron Christie
The President meets USA Freedom Corps staff to receive updates on his national service agenda as well as to give us direction on how he would like us to proceed in implementing his Call to Service. Briefing the President in the Oval Office is a rare treat and an honor - I feel fortunate to have had the experience to do on more than one occasion.

Beyond the White House staff, the President meets with a USA Freedom Corps volunteer each time he steps off Air Force One as he travels around the country. The provides an opportunity for the President to hear first hand how they volunteer in their respective communities. The President also takes this chance to thank these folks who have answered his Call to Service.

Elizabeth, from California writes:
I've recently heard something about the President's Volunteer Service Award -- is that something that USA Freedom Corps is involved with? How can I earn it?

Ron Christie
As I mentioned earlier, the President created the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation last year to recognize the efforts of those who serve their country. The President's Volunteer Service Award is the specific recognition program that is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Please see for more information about the award.

Ron Christie
That's all the time we have for today. Please visit for additional information on how you can answer the President's Call to Service. Have a good weekend.

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