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

For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
September 19, 2002

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Redbook Mothers and Shakers
New York City, New York

Thank you for that kind introduction, Cathie. And thanks very much to Redbook and Hearst Magazines for letting me pay tribute to the outstanding women you are honoring today. Distinguished guests, and honorees, I'm delighted to be here among friends and friendly faces.

We are here to celebrate the achievements of women whose generous work is motivated by a simple, yet profound goal: they want life to be better in America.

The women we honor today know what makes America strong: healthy people and happy families; safe children; a good education and strong reading skills; caring neighbors and willing volunteers.

Their achievements are diverse, but what they have in common is their humanity and purpose. We have learned a lot about humanity in the past year.

It's September 2002, and today I am filled with hope because of the women in this room, and because of others I've met the past year - all over the nation and especially in New York City.

The word "community" has a whole new meaning in America's most populous city.especially in local schools, where students have the chance to join forces to help and comfort others.

Last week I visited Aquinas High School in South Bronx - an all girls Catholic School, where just after the attacks on 9-11 last year, students "adopted" the nearby fire stations to comfort and cheer firefighters from one particular station who suffered the loss of a colleague, Joseph Spor, at the World Trade Center.

The students of Aquinas are required to perform a minimum of 40 hours of community service in their four years of school. But some devote more than 500 hours, and in some cases 1,000 hours.

Some visit homes for the elderly to help brighten the day for people who live in nursing homes. Some raise money to buy school supplies for children in other schools. And every day after school, girls from Aquinas walk across the street to help out in a shelter that houses women, children, and the homeless.

These students are learning what you and I have the luxury of knowing already: The chance to volunteer - the chance to help other people -- broadens your whole perspective, and enriches your life.

Instead of looking inward, volunteering gives people the chance to look beyond themselves. And that's what I saw at Aquinas: A group of bright young girls who look outside of their own teen-age lives and into the lives and hearts of others.

Young people are very idealistic, and they really want to help.and community service opportunities give them the very important chance to serve.

This September 2002, we are reminded that people still need comfort and support. President Bush and I want more Americans to make a difference. Two of the main reasons that people state for not volunteering are one, that they were never asked; and two, they don't know where to start.

In his State of the Union Address, President Bush asked every American to dedicate at least two years - or 4,000 hours - over the course of their lives to serving others.

And The USA Freedom Corps Volunteer Network is a great place to start looking for service opportunities.

The Freedom Corps Volunteer Network is a massive web-based effort that helps volunteers search for opportunities according to their interests and geographic location. It is one of the largest clearinghouses of volunteer opportunities ever assembled.

Americans can choose to participate in one of the thousands of meaningful volunteer projects: building homes for the homeless, helping feed the hungry, or reading to children.

The response to President Bush's "Call to Service," has been tremendous.

More than 76,000 potential Peace Corps Volunteers have requested applications for about 3,500 open slots - a 43 percent increase over the same period in 2001.

The Peace Corps is growing. They are opening or re-opening programs in East Timor, Peru, Bangladesh, Macedonia, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. And 35 more countries have requested Peace Corps volunteers.

The number of potential AmeriCorps members is growing, with a 95 percent increase in online applications.

Since February, more than 48,000 people have signed up online for the newly- created Citizen Corps. They join hundreds of thousands of individuals already volunteering at the local level in projects like Neighborhood Watches and Volunteers in Police Service. More than 150 communities around the country have officially registered Citizen Corps Councils to coordinate local emergency prevention, preparation and response volunteer activity.

If you'd like to know more about the USA Freedom Corps, visit the website, at: - or call 1-877-USA-CORPS.

Erma Bombeck once said, "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say to Him, "I used everything you gave me."

Among us today are women who are using everything given to them, from individual talent to a network of resources, and they use those assets as tools to build a better world.

I have seen many examples of kindness and compassion over the past year. And the people here today are great examples of the best I have seen in America.

Your work is evidence that the answers to many of our nation's problems are found in our hearts, and in our communities.

I applaud your generous contributions to this country, and to our future, and I know you will continue your good work. Congratulations to the award winners, and thank you for inviting me.

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