The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 5, 2001

Remarks by the President to Habitat for Humanity Supporters
3722 Wiggins Leaf Street
Tampa, Florida

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9:15 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Mel, thank you very much. I'm so honored Mel agreed to become the Cabinet Secretary of HUD. He brings a fresh look and a true spirit of compassion to the job -- plus, he's a Floridian. (Laughter.) He's going to make a big difference.

It's great to be here with the Lieutenant Governor. Tell Governor Bush, I hope he slept-in well. (Laughter.) Here the rest of us are out working for a better Florida and a better America. (Laughter.)

I'm so honored to be here with members of the congressional delegation: Davis, Miller, Putnam and Young. Thank you, congressmen, for being here, and I look forward to flying back to Washington with you today. Millard, it is an honor to be here with you. I talk abut soldiers and the armies of compassion. Millard is the general and Corporal Bush reported for duty today. (Laughter.)

I did run into Sergeant Doris Meyer. (Laughter and applause.) I can barely lift my arm. (Laughter.) What a great, great honor it was to be here with Roger and the leadership of Habitat for this part of the state and all the volunteers -- people who work hard, sweat hard and end up the day with a beautiful smile on your face.

I really wish I could spend more time building. It is one of these moments of life where you realize there is something greater than yourself in life, and that you get the joy of helping somebody help themselves. Johana, thank you and your family for allowing for this invasion of your privacy. But it is important for America to see the fact that, one, you'll own a home and, two, that you're willing to work for it. And, as importantly, there are hundreds of other Americans who are willing to stand side-by-side with you so that you can enjoy one of the great benefits of America -- owning your own property, having a piece of the future of America, so that your future and the future of your ninos is very hopeful.

And that's what America is about. This is the land of hope and promise and opportunity. And, as importantly, it is a land of compassionate people. I like to tell people that I wish I knew the law that I could sign that would make people love one another. That's not the government, that comes from something much greater than people, as you all know. This is a land of faith and compassion. It is a land of thousands and hundreds of people who ask the question when they wake up, what can I do to love my neighbor.

That is not a government function. That doesn't happen because of government, and you and I know that. And that's why it is so important for our nation to recognize the promise and power of faith in America. And that's why our government should not fear working side-by-side with faith-based organizations. Quite the opposite. We ought to fund faith-based organizations so that they can do their duty and love and compassion.

Oh, there are some in our society who are skeptical about funding faith. I hear it all the time in the halls of Congress -- we can't fund faith-based organizations. If that's the case, are they willing to eliminate the line item for programs such as Habitat for Humanity in the budget? I say they shouldn't. As a matter of fact, I'm submitting a budget next year that triples the amount of money available for programs such as Habitat for Humanity. (Applause.)

Should we eliminate college scholarships where a child can go to a faith-based university? Should we say Medicaid or Medicare recipients can't take their federal money to a religious hospital? To the skeptics of faith in our society, I say, come to Habitat Humanity building sites; listen to the opening prayer, so eloquently delivered today by a fellow Methodist; listen to the words that are said, that inspire people to take an extra step to help a neighbor in need.

No, those who worry about faith in our society, and government's willingness to stand side-by-side with faith, don't understand the power of faith and the promise of faith and the hope of faith. And if this nation expects to fulfill its promise, we ought to welcome faith-based and community based programs, all throughout America, encourage them to flourish, ask others to come and join, call upon mentors who are willing to put their arm around a child in need, welcome faith-based programs into our prisons, who understand that when you change a heart, you change a man or a woman's life.

No, this is a fabulous nation, because of our people, and the compassion buried in the hearts and souls of the American people. And it's such a huge honor to come to a site of love, and a site of compassion, and a site of care, to work side-by-side with fellow Americans on kind of a hot day -- (laughter) -- with one thing in mind, to help Johana and, therefore, help our society and help America continue to be the greatest country on the face of the earth.

I'm so honored to be here, thankful for the chance to work. And thank you all so very much for what you do. God bless. (Applause.)

9:22 A.M. EDT

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