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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.

Desiree Sayle
Desiree Sayle
Director USA Freedom Corps

March 29, 2005

Desiree Sayle
Good afternoon, thank you for your interest in USA Freedom Corps, an office in the White House whose mission is to promote and expand volunteer service. Our office has had an exciting start to the New Year and I welcome you to visit our website at for the most up to date information on our activities. For example, USA Freedom Corps was asked by Mrs. Bush to help distribute tickets to the White House Easter Egg roll for over 500 Mentor/Mentee matches as this year's Easter Egg Roll focused on Celebrating Mentoring. Our office provided tickets to over 30 groups from the Washington, DC Metropolitan area as well as Virginia and Maryland. Although the day was soggy, we spotted our matches having a great time! I am delighted to have the chance today to answer questions about the theme of this year's Easter Egg Roll (Celebrate Mentoring) and about USA Freedom Corps.

Maggie, from Wilbraham, Mass writes:
My sister-in-law attended the (very wet) Easter Egg Roll yesterday--she heard there was going to be a USA Freedom Corps booth at the event but couldn't find it. Was it there and why was your organization participating in the event? Thank you

Desiree Sayle
Maggie, thank you for your question – I’m so glad to hear that your sister-in-law braved the weather to attend the EER – so many people (over 500 volunteers!) contributed their time, energy, and hard work into putting the event together and I think that despite the weather everyone that attended had a great time. USA Freedom Corps helped Mrs. Bush celebrate the importance of mentoring by inviting mentors and mentees as special guests. We were planning on having a USA Freedom Corps booth with information about our office, but regrettably our booth is not waterproof and we were unable to set it up. Nevertheless, information about us is available on our website – including the largest on-line clearing house of volunteer opportunities, so I hope you both will visit to learn more about us.

Shannon, from South Bend, Indiana writes:
Desiree, I was just looking at your web site and noticed the photos of the President with volunteers throughout the country. How can I nominate a volunteer for him to meet? or is this possible?

thank you for your time.

Desiree Sayle
Shannon, one of my favorite things to talk about is the USA Freedom Corps Greeter program because it allows the President to acknowledge some of the most dedicated volunteers across our country. Almost every time the President travels outside the Washington, DC area he greets an outstanding volunteer and presents them with the President’s Volunteer Service Award. (To find out more about the award and the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, which oversees the distribution of the award, visit our website at (

When we learn that the President is going to a certain city, we reach out to a number of local organizations, including the local volunteer center (look in your phone book for one near you) to learn more about outstanding volunteers. If you would like to tell us about an outstanding volunteer, write us at USA Freedom Corps, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20500. We can’t make any promises that they will meet the President, but we always enjoy learning about outstanding volunteers.

Bob, from Ohio writes:
My fraternity is interested in getting more involved in our community. In addition, we have over 160 chapters located on college campuses all across the U.S. Any suggestions on how our organization can answer the President's call to service both locally and nationally?

Desiree Sayle
Bob, I’m glad to know about your interest in getting your fraternity involved in volunteer service. The recently published Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) study showed us that one of the most active volunteer groups in our country is 16 – 24 year olds! (See the results of this year’s study at I would recommend that you either visit our website to do an online search for organizations in need of volunteers in your area or contact your local Volunteer Center ( or Hands on Network ( to determine what the needs are in your community. After you successfully set up your volunteer program, you can go to your fraternity leadership and tell them about your experiences and encourage a national volunteer effort for your fraternity.

Leavin, from Rochester, Michigan writes:
Desiree,I work with an after school program that encourages teenagers to get involved in positive activities--sports, drama, volunteering, etc.

It seems as if they often chose the sports and mainstream activities instead of volunteering. How can I encourage volunteering more for these kids?

Thanks Leavin

Desiree Sayle
Leavin, I don’t know if this has been done on Ask The White House before, but I’m going to answer two questions with one answer. Joshua from Washington, DC (he’s 16) asked a similar question, but from a different perspective. He asked if USA Freedom Corps has a youth version or is it for all ages. In December of 2004 we launched with then Secretary of Education Rod Paige and CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, David Eisner. We wanted to provide a volunteer resource not only for kids, but for parents and teachers (and all adults for that matter) to help youth find a volunteer opportunity. We have idea pages for kids and youth as well as trivia and games. For adults, we have resources to promote youth volunteer service as well as service-learning ideas for educators. I hope both you and Joshua will visit to learn more about getting youth involved in volunteerism. Remember, when the President called on all Americans to volunteer he did so because he truly believes that everyone can do something.

Betty-Jane, from Oklahoma writes:
Can you explain your office's role in Mrs. Bush's new initiative on at risk youth and boys?

Desiree Sayle
Betty-Jane, thank you so much for the great question. As you may know, in his 2005 State of the Union Address, President Bush talked about our young people, especially those at-risk. He announced that Mrs. Bush would lead the way in helping to find solutions to some of our most troubling problems involving our young people. She has traveled extensively to visit a variety of programs to learn more about what’s being done on the community level by faith-based, community-based and research-based programs. She also announced that this fall she will convene the first-ever White House Conference on Helping America’s Youth. To find out more, visit the White House website at /firstlady. USA Freedom Corps works with a number of the organizations that are addressing the problems facing our kids at-risk. We work closely with Mrs. Bush’s office to highlight national and community-based programs that are working hard to make a difference in the life of a young person.

Michelle, from New Castle, Pennsylvania writes:
How can I become a volunteer for the Freedom Corps here in New Castle, PA?

Desiree Sayle
Michelle, it’s easy, volunteer with your favorite organization in your community, join a National Service Program, or find a way to help a neighbor in need. USA Freedom Corps is an office within the White House that promotes volunteer service, we don’t have volunteer members, but you can find opportunities with organizations in your community on our volunteer network at

Bill, from Atlanta, GA writes:
As a senior citizen, I have a lot of free time on my hands and would like to find a way to give back to my community. However, I have found that most volunteer opportunities in my area are for younger people. Are there any programs designed to help seniors get more involved in volunteering in their communities?

Desiree Sayle
Bill, seniors are among the Nation’s most valuable volunteers because they bring their life experiences to their volunteer service. Last year there were over 500,000 SeniorCorps volunteers additionally, seniors serve in the Peace Corps and in AmericCorp*VISTA. In addition to these national volunteer opportunities, many local organizations are looking for talent and flexible time. Check out our website at for more information or visit Hands on Atlanta at 600 Means Street, Atlanta, 404-979-2800.

Richard, from Austin, Texas writes:
I would like to know what the President is doing to help volunteering. does he volunteer? or does Mrs. Bush volunteer?

Desiree Sayle
Great question Richard, the President is committed to volunteer service, which is why he created USA Freedom Corps at the White House and issued his Call to Service - a call for every American to dedicate two years or 4,000 hours over the course of their lifetime to volunteer service. He and Mrs. Bush have been lifelong volunteers.

Desiree Sayle
Ok guys, been told that my time on Ask The White House is up . while I was unable to get to everyone.s questions today, I hope that you will look for your answers on our website at If you currently volunteer, keep up the great work -- if not, I hope you will find an opportunity through USA Freedom Corps. Thank you again! Desiree.