May 1, 2003
This week is National Volunteer Week by order of a proclamation from President George W. Bush. It began April 27th and runs through Saturday.
Volunteering is as American as momís apple pie. It is a small way for us to express our love for country and our fellow man. In fact, it is almost a rite of passage for every citizen in the United States to volunteer in some capacity or another.
When this nation was founded, people looked out for their neighbors and helped them in their time of need. This included assisting with labor, organizing educational opportunities and caring for oneís neighbor like one of the family. Although life in 2003 is dramatically different than in the late 1700ís, the principle of volunteering oneís time and resources is not.
National Volunteer Week is a way for Americans to pay homage to our nationís long-standing tradition of volunteering as well as a way to encourage even more Americans to join in the effort to help each other and make our nation stronger from within.
Americans can and should be active participants in their communities, not merely watching from the sidelines. Thatís why President Bush created the USA Freedom Corps to motivate citizens to volunteer by providing them with opportunities to make a contribution to some noble causes.
To that end, President Bush has challenged all Americans to dedicate at least 4,000 hours in their lifetime to serve their neighbors by volunteering. Many Americans have responded to that call to service by becoming active in mentoring and tutoring children, assisting the elderly, cleaning highways and parks, offering assistance to the homeless and showing real compassion to their fellow man through acts of kindness.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were in excess of 59 million people who volunteered their time with a charitable organization in the United States of America in 2002.
Additionally, as we saw after the tragedy of September 11th, 2001, millions of dollars were contributed to assist families affected by the continuing war on terrorism. Monies are also being raised to help communities prevent, prepare for and respond to an emergency. All across America, more and more people are realizing that they have a responsibility to do something to help those who are in need.
The most amazing aspect of being a volunteer is that the greatest reward of volunteering goes to the volunteer. I can attest to this fact.
I regularly volunteer my time on Saturday mornings at the Phyllis Goins housing projects in downtown Spartanburg. Many of these inner-city kids are abandoned by schools and communities as not worth the trouble. But the ministry I worked with is dedicated to showing love and sharing with these kids about respect for their fellow man and for God. H.O.P.E. Ministry is just one of the many ways I enjoy volunteering my time in my community to make a real difference in the lives of children who are starving for attention.
The Bush administration is responding to these acts of service by fellow Americans. He recently formed the Presidentís Council on Service and Civic Participation and requested that they create a national recognition program called the Presidentís Volunteer Service Awards. These awards will be distributed to people and organizations who faithfully volunteer their time and money over a one-year period. President Bush wants to thank these volunteers for making an impact on their communities and our country.
The Official Proclamation Of National Volunteer Week by President Bush:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 27 through May 3, 2003, as National Volunteer Week. I call on all Americans to join together to celebrate the invaluable work that volunteers perform every day across our country, and to commit themselves to do more for their neighbors in need through the many volunteer programs available in their communities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-seventh.
GEORGE W. BUSH