April 29, 2008
President Bush Discusses National Volunteer Week
Henry C. Lozano
Thank you all for joining me today as we celebrate National Volunteer Week at the White House. This afternoon, President Bush will honor Americans from around the nation who give of their time to help the less fortunate, including 33 Peace Corps trainees preparing to leave for a tour of service in Guatemala.
President Bush launched USA Freedom Corps in 2002 to promote a culture of service in America and connect individuals with opportunities to volunteer to better their communities. Now, Im happy to take your questions on National Volunteer Week and the Presidents USA Freedom Corps initiatives.
Michael, from Powell, Tn
What was the Freedom Corps started for?
Great question, Michael. President Bush recognizes that volunteers are one of Americas most precious assets. In his 2002 State of the Union address, the President issued a national call to service and launched USA Freedom Corps to more effectively engage what he calls Americas armies of compassion those who are looking to serve a cause greater than themselves to help others in need. With the establishment of USA Freedom Corps, Americans now have a one-stop shop to find volunteer opportunities through the USA Freedom Corps Volunteer Network. And research shows Americans are now volunteering in record numbers. Last year alone, more than 60 million volunteers from across the United States provided critical social services in communities. In this years State of the Union address, the President outlined his key priorities for the year ahead. Once again, among them was to strengthen his compassion agenda and promote policies that support volunteer service, both at home and abroad.
Marcus, from Princeton, New Jersey writes:
I work for a non-profit organization that actively encourages its
employees to volunteer, they even provide employees with time off to
volunteer for other non-profit organizations. Does the Federal
Government have similar programs for its employees? Would you encourage
private industry to consider offering such benefits?
Marcus, thank you for your question. It's an important one, and I'm encouraged to hear that your nonprofit encourages employee volunteering. Employee volunteer programs that engage individuals in service to the communities where they live and work reaps enormous benefits for the individual, the company and the community. Here at USA Freedom Corps, we call it a win-win-win situation. The federal government does have policies to encourage federal employees to volunteer, including flexible work schedules, administrative leave and in some cases, paid time-off. And in April 2006, President Bush issued an Executive Order to help ensure that the federal government supports and encourages volunteer community service and establishing a volunteer service liaison in federal agencies. Additional guidance for federal agencies on granting time off for volunteer activities can be found at www.opm.gov, the website of the Office of Personnel Management. I also encourage federal employees to check with their own human capital departments, as some agencies have special policies to further encourage employee volunteering.
And to address your question on private industry, this year, USA Freedom Corps along with the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation launched a new initiative in February at the Summit on Corporate Volunteering to encourage more skills-based volunteering in America's businesses. Today, the President is welcoming two great examples of corporate pro bono volunteering - Deloitte and Intel - to the White House to recognize their efforts to leverage their employees' talents to support our nation's nonprofits meeting critical needs in communities. To find out more about the Summit, our partners and the pro bono movement, visit our website at www.volunteer.gov
Michael, from Long Beach, CA writes:
Dear Mr. Henry C. Lozano,
First of all I would just like to say thank you for choosing to work as
a part of
something that I really do appreciate doing, volunteering. I think it's
great way to help out for your community, helping the environment, and
creating a better society. My question for you is: What is the White
doing to encourage more people to volunteer and take part in helping
seems like everyone else is busy, it would sure be a lot more merrier if
people actually took the time and do something to help out. It makes me
great that I'm doing something good for the community and it sure is
work." Thanks for your consideration.
Michael, thank you for your kind comment. And from a fellow native California, thank you for volunteering in your community. Through the USA Freedom Corps website at the White House, www.volunteer.gov, we have created the largest online clearinghouse for volunteer opportunities. You can simply enter your ZIP code and your preferred volunteer activities and find the service opportunity that's right for you.
President Bush also created a Council on Service and Civic Participation, made up of 25 athletes, celebrities, entertainers and leaders that promote volunteering and civic engagement wherever they go. One of the great things we do to keep people volunteering is to honor them with the President's Volunteer Service Award (PVSA), which President Bush created to award Americans of all ages who complete a significant amount of service to their communities. President Bush has personally met and presented the award to over 600 volunteers since March 2002. And the Council reported this week that over 790,000 President's Volunteer Service Awards of all levels have been presented to date. To find out more about the Council and how your organization can become a certifying organization for the PVSA, visit www.presidentialserviceawards.gov.
Chinesa, from KCMO writes:
What exactly is the Freedom Corps?? What do they do?
Hi Chinesa, thanks for being with us today from Missouri. As a White House office, USA Freedom Corps is charged with building a culture of service, citizenship and responsibility in America. USA Freedom Corps promotes and expands volunteer service in America by partnering with national service programs, working to strengthen the nonprofit sector, recognizing volunteers and helping to connect individuals with volunteer opportunities both at home and abroad.
We have numerous focus areas and special initiatives that we focus on to spotlight opportunities for all Americans to volunteer - everything from disaster preparedness and response to mentoring youth to economic development overseas. At USA Freedom Corps, we are constantly amazed at the critical human needs being met by American volunteers in nations all around the world. To find out more about current opportunities to get involved during National Volunteer Week, like AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Volunteers for Prosperity and Take Pride in America; and exciting upcoming initiatives like Great Outdoors Month, Military Appreciation Week, Summer of Service, and others, keep checking our website at www.volunteer.gov
Michele, from Rockville, MD writes:
Are there opportunities for children under the age 16 to volunteer? What
are some suggestions particularly in Northern Virginia. Thank you.
Michele, thanks for asking about young people volunteering. At USA Freedom Corps, we are fortunate to hear so many great stories about our nations young people embracing the Presidents Call to Service. And we know that volunteering at a young age leads to a lifetime of service and civic engagement. USA Freedom Corps supports numerous youth service activities throughout the year, including Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, Global Youth Service Day, Make a Difference Day, and of course, National Volunteer Week. Weve also developed a volunteer website just for kids at www.usafreedomcorpskids.gov with neat tools to get kids involved and get them talking to their peers and friends about fun volunteer opportunities.
Cliff, from Brimfield, Ohio
Director Lozano: Has the worlds terror issue had an affect on the
Corps and voluntering? Thank You
You ask a very good question, Cliff. And the answer is yes. After the devastation of 9/11, President Bush knew Americans were searching for ways they could help others Americans in need. Thats why he created USA Freedom Corps to help connect individuals with ways to offer a hand to their neighbors in need and extend the goodwill of the American people across the country. Today, volunteering is at historically high levels. To build on the countless acts of service, sacrifice and generosity that followed the attacks of Sept ember 11th, millions of Americans are finding ways they can contribute solutions to some of our greatest social problems. In a world where hate exists, they offer hope to the needy and make America a better place through their acts of compassion.
Cody, from Boiling Springs
Who can become a member of the Freedom Corps?
USA Freedom Corps was designed as a coordinating council across government for National volunteer programs and initiatives. As an office within the White House, USA Freedom Corps works to promote the Presidents volunteer agenda and help connect Americans with opportunities to serve within their community and around the globe.
Currently, USA Freedom Corps partners with six national service initiatives. Under President Bush's leadership, these organizations are helping Americans find ways to respond to critical issues facing our communities. For example:
Peace Corps volunteer levels are at an all-time high over 190,000 volunteers have been mobilized since its creation.
AmeriCorps has deployed over 540,000 members since 1994 to mentor and tutor youth, respond to disasters, build homes, preserve the environment, and mobilize other volunteers.
Learn and Serve America engages over one million students a year in service-learning programs in schools.
Volunteers for Prosperity have engaged over 74,000 Americans in service overseas.
Additionally, nonprofits around the nation partner with us through our national service organizations to post information on service opportunities on the USA Freedom Corps Volunteer network, the nations largest online clearinghouse of volunteer opportunities.
Henry C. Lozano
Thanks everyone for joining us today, and helping USA Freedom Corps celebrate National Volunteer Week. President Bush often says that the pursuit of happiness in this country leads citizens like you and me down a path of service to others. Thanks for volunteering, and remember to visit www.volunteer.gov to find new volunteer opportunities that are right for you.