Volunteer Week, 2003
April 25, 2003
Volunteering is central to the American character and is a fundamental expression
of responsible citizenship. From our Nation's earliest days, people came together
to do whatever was needed for the public good -- from raising barns and pro-viding
mutual security to organizing educational activities and caring for their neighbors.
Though our country has changed dramatically since its founding, the need for
service has not. During National Volunteer Week, we recognize our proud legacy
of volunteer service and resolve to encourage more Americans to continue strengthening
our country by helping others.
This is a time for all Americans to be active citizens, not spectators.
For that reason, I have created the USA Freedom Corps to mobilize our citizens
and provide opportunities for individuals and organizations to contribute
to important causes. As part of this initiative, I have asked all Americans
to dedicate at least 4,000 hours over the rest of their lives to serving
their neighbors and their Nation. Since that call to service, our citizens
have responded with an outpouring of kindness that is transforming our country,
one heart and one soul at a time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,
more than 59 million Americans volunteered last year through charitable organizations.
These individuals served in a variety of ways -- mentoring and tutoring
children, providing companionship to the elderly, running community theaters
and arts programs, cleaning highways and parks, staffing essential community
organizations, and offering physical and spiritual aid to the hungry and
homeless. In addition, citizen volunteers have contributed to the ongoing
war on terror by helping families and communities prevent, prepare for, and
respond to emergencies. Across our Nation, our citizens are recognizing that
everyone can do something to help and that serving those in need benefits
the volunteer also.
My Administration has taken several steps to build on this progress and
continue the momentum created by these millions of acts of service. Most
recently, I formed the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation,
and charged them with creating a nationwide recognition program called the
President's Volunteer Service Awards. These awards will be given to individuals
and organizations engaged in a variety of volunteer services who have made
a sustained commitment to service over the course of 1 year, and enhance
our ability to pay tribute to volunteers and the impact their service has
on our communities and our country.
National Volunteer Week offers each of us the opportunity to recognize one
of the true strengths of our Nation -- the compassionate spirit of our citizens.
I urge all Americans to continue to uphold this spirit and answer the call
to service to help ensure that all our citizens realize the promise of America.
Together, we can achieve a hopeful future for all.
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.