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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
June 11, 2002
Mrs. Bush at Senior Corps Roundtable Event
Salt Lake City, Utah
This partnership will help 22,000 seniors who live in Marriott Communities become volunteers through the Senior Corps RSVP program.
Imagine 22,000 opportunities to make a difference in someone's life! This is truly great news for America - and President Bush joins me in thanking Bill Marriott for his leadership role in this new partnership.
I had a chance to look at a demonstration of the brand new Senior Corps online recruitment system, which I hope Marriott Senior Living residents around the country will use to get involved in their communities.
During the demonstration, I saw how fast and easy it is to use the online system to find volunteer opportunities - not just here, but anywhere around the country.
Americans will hear more good news on that subject very soon.
The War World II generation- what we fondly call the "Greatest Generation" -has one of the best track records in history when it comes to volunteerism and civic engagement.
They are the heart and soul of senior service.
Charities, volunteer agencies, and federal national service programs understand the enormous service potential of this generation.
Through the Senior Corps' RSVP program, seniors can use their expertise on a huge variety of projects.
They can help tutor young students, build and renovate homes, immunize children, prevent crimes and respond to disaster.
Senior Corps is of course just one aspect of the USA Freedom Corps, which the president announced in his State of the Union speech in January.
He asked all Americans to devote two years - or 4,000 hours - to serving others, and the USA Freedom Corps is a great way to find service opportunities.
Four thousand hours may seem like a lot of time, but consider this: If we were to set aside one day for each victim of September 11th, to honor and remember each of them, it would take us about eight and a half years to complete our days of remembrance.
We can honor the lives lost by making our lives count even more.
President Bush wants to raise the number of Senior Corps members by 100,000 volunteers, from 500,000 to 600,000 this year.
He is asking Congress to make it easier for seniors to get involved in the Senior Corps programs by:
lowering age restrictions,
eliminating income restrictions,
being more flexible about how seniors work - from the hours they can give to the number of people they work with, and
giving people a chance to put their hard-earned experience, and expertise, to work.
In Pennsylvania, President Bush met Stan Braxton, an IBM retiree who is working with several organizations that serve children in and around the Philadelphia area.
Stan has long wanted to be active in community service, but it seemed that his job at IBM always got in the way.
When he retired in 1998 he decided to participate in the service activities he always looked forward to.
He got involved with the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Stan, now 66 years old, began working with Philadelphia's Promise.
He is also a regular volunteer with the IBM-sponsored Teaming for Technology program.
And, my favorite part about Stan's volunteer work is that he also tutors elementary school students through the Philadelphia Reads program.
He is a great example of someone who uses his personal experience - and expertise - to make a difference.
For many people like Stan, retirement is a time in life when people finally have the opportunity to give back to the place we call home.
It's a time of life that is richly rewarding, because helping others brings so much meaning and purpose to life.
Simply stated, volunteering makes us feel good.
News correspondent Harry Smith spent years watching and interviewing volunteers from around the country.
In one of his articles, he wrote that the essence of volunteerism is:
"The understanding that one person's contribution, no matter how humble, does make a difference.
"It's the realization that even in life's daily travails we need each other - neighbor helping neighbor.
"And (volunteering) is a way to say thank you for the privilege of living in our remarkable country."
Congratulations and thanks again to the Marriott Corporation for forging this powerful alliance with the Senior Corps.
President Bush joins me in thanking you for answering the call to service.
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