Obama, George H.W. Bush Salute Volunteers Dedicated to Public Service

Bush inspired "thousand points of light" volunteering initiative during his term.
38:07 | 07/15/13

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Transcript for Obama, George H.W. Bush Salute Volunteers Dedicated to Public Service
This is a special report from ABC news. I'm -- that's where new York and ABC news digital special report President Obama. It's had to honor one of his Republican predecessors at the White House this afternoon. The 41 president George H. W. Bush is in town today he and 41 lady Barbara Bush -- lunch with the Obama's. And now they are all together to celebrate the points of light volunteer program -- the name. Comes from President Bush -- 1989 inaugural address and the organization. Is a private nonprofit group founded about a year later for more on today's -- were joined from the White House by -- very Bruce Mary. Good to have you witnessed today always interesting to see the past and present its leaders in the same room it characterized the relationship between President Obama and President Bush. Afternoon -- that's -- and the obamas are hosting the bush is back at the White House today to honor volunteers and in community service as you mention. President George H. W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush and members of their family are all back at their former home to mark important milestone for this award that was created by President Bush. This actually the second time in the obamas in the bushes have joined forces this month there's been a lot of of get -- here President Obama met with. Bush 41 George HW Bush's son in Tanzania earlier this month. Four his wife former First Lady Laura Bush met with Michelle Obama there and now today having his father bush 43 back here -- bush 41 back here. To meet with the Obama's again so there's been a lot of of meetings and bush in the -- this month and and today is of course about this award but it's also honor President Bush's legacy when it comes to service and volunteers them. -- that was -- -- -- he certainly set -- to do and make an impact in an imprint. During an inauguration. Do we know is President Bush 43 is he going to be in attendance. He is not here today this is this is all about his father and his father's legacy of volunteers and also of course about this are receiving this award today today marks -- 5000 recipient of the daily point of light award. Which President Bush created in 1989 as you mentioned. It's the first daily award from the White House this is really -- big deal to mark this -- some 5000 people have now received. This award and who is being honored with the award today. Today there honoring Floyd hammer and -- Hamilton their retired couple from Iowa farmers. Who have developed an -- and started a nonprofit organization that helps deliver meals to the hungry and fifteen different nations including the -- -- right now let's go to the White House where weeks. Good afternoon everybody. And on behalf -- Michelle myself welcome to the White House. Point three years ago. President George H. W. Bush began a tradition. He knew that across the country every day Americans were finding ways to serve each other. And give back to their communities. Often were very few resources. And very little recognition. And President Bush he knew -- -- good works were valuable to the people they helped. But beyond that he knew that their spirit of service was vital to our national -- So -- created in the war. The daily point of -- -- To recognize Americans who serve their neighbors and communities. And innovative ways that inspire -- all. And for the rest of his presidency nearly every single day President Bush gave someone a daily point of -- -- war. And after he left the White House he kept going and going and going and in between skydiving and other activities and kept going. Which should come as no surprise since we're talking about. Somebody who. Has served his country in such extraordinary ways. And you know when you to a parachute jumper -- age 85. Not just not not just a parachute jump -- another parachute jump I believe this seven. This is somebody who's not gonna slow -- any time soon. So. Today we are extraordinarily. To be joined by the family that helped build. The points of light foundation. Into the world's largest organization. Dedicated to volunteer service. President Bush. Mrs. bush. Neil Bush. We want to welcome -- and we also want to recognize Michelle -- the CEO. Points of light. It's worth -- How does not the first time President Bush and I have come together for an event like this four years ago I went down to Texas saying them. Where President Bush has library to help celebrate the twentieth anniversary points of light. And I appreciated. The warm welcome. By which I mean the extremely loud how -- Miller received. I was deeply impressed by how invested the students there are in community service. But most of all I was moved by how much they love. President Bush. And now we've come together to mark another milestone. As of this minute. Forum. 1999. Points of light awards have been presented to individuals and organizations across this comfort. And so now I have the honor of -- President Bush and presenting number 5000. About ten years ago Florida hammer and -- Hamilton we're getting ready to retire. They have been farming for years they have earned a break but planned to sail around the world. Another friend told him about a special place that they should visit a long way. In a village. In Tanzania. Volunteer mission was helping to renovate an HIV aids Clark. Important -- thought it sound like old. Worthwhile -- When they arrived in Tanzania the country was in the third year of a brutal drought. People were starving. And dying. Many of them were children. And having seen -- champion Floyd is simply had to do something about and so their vision a very leisurely retirement was replaced. By a new mission. Fighting global hunger. Today the nonprofit they created outreach has distributed free meals to hungry children here in the United States and in more than. Fifteen countries worldwide. To date more than 233. Million -- -- -- see many of the kids that they met in Tanzania grow up healthy and strong. And this work they say is the most rewarding thing -- -- -- And I have to say having just been to Tanzania -- Michelle we can attest how important this kind of work this. How it changes lives. It's also fitting -- later this week on July 18 people around the world will celebrate the legacy. The magnificent public servant Nelson Mandela by performing acts public and community service. As people look for examples. Outreach provides an extraordinary demonstration. Of how service can lift people's lives. And so if the purpose of this -- -- to celebrate Americans who worked to make our country in a world a better place. -- -- advantage or for any -- motorists but just to serve pure and simple. I can't think of anyone more deserving than -- Hamilton and Floyd -- Now before we actually present this award. Would be remiss -- and take a moment to honor the man who made this all possible. He hates this but I'm under anyway. Much has been said about President Bush's own extraordinary life of service. But I'm not sure everybody. Fully appreciates how much is done to strengthen our country's tradition of service. In addition to this award he created the first white house office dedicated to promoting voluntarism. He championed and signed the national community service act. By Washington standards it was a modest law and involve little money -- -- -- bush signed a little fanfare. But looking back we see that it sparked a national movement. By laying the ground work for the corporation international community service and americorps. And senior -- could get tens of millions of Americans meaningful opportunities to serve. And today thanks to those programs and others like them. And thanks to the passion of leaders like President Bush and citizens who found the same passion over the years. Voluntarism has gone from something some people -- some of the time. To something lots of people do. As a regular part of their lives. Since -- 1989. The number of Americans who volunteer has grown by more than point five million. Services up across age groups and across regions. It's now graduation requirement in many high schools and colleges. It's embedded in the culture the businesses large and small. And speaking from my family -- volunteering has brought joy and meaning to Michelle and me and our daughters over the years. And I know that's the case for many of your families to. This national tradition may seem perfectly ordinary to many Americans. Especially those who've grown up during this period but. -- -- reflects tremendous progress and today we can say that our country is a better. And a stronger force for good in the world because more and more. We are people that serve. And for that we have to thank President Bush and his better half -- who -- justice committed. As her husband's service and has dedicated her life to it as well. Have presidents. Who followed President Bush have -- good sense to continue this work I'm not just because one -- calls and bad. Even after leaving office President Clinton and both president -- -- come together to help people affected by. Natural disasters. Here at home and around the world. Reminder that service is not a democratic or Republican value but its core part of being an America. And at the White House today we're proud to carry forward that legacy. I created the office of social innovation and civic participation -- find new ways to use information to strengthen service. We expanded the office of faith based and neighborhood partnerships originally created by. President George W. Bush which works closely with religious and community organizations. Across the country to help Americans in need. And today I want to announce a new task force -- representatives from candidate new season of the department's crossed the government. To take a fresh look at how we can better support national service. In particular on some -- our most important national priorities. Improving schools. Recovering from disasters. -- markets. -- this task force will be led by my team -- the White House along with -- Spencer who's here. The CEO of the corporation -- national community service to. Previously led -- volunteer commission -- for governor Jeb Bush so we've got a whole family thing work. There -- times of tight budgets and some very tough problems we know that the greatest. Resource we have is limitless energy and ingenuity of our citizens and when we harness that energy and create more opportunities for Americans to serve. We pay tribute. These orders for example set by President Bush. And -- just to close on a personal note this frozen I'm one of millions. People have been inspired by her passion and your commitment. -- Helped so many Americans discover. Debate to have something to contribute. Today to have the power make a difference. You describe for us those thousand points white all the people organizations spread out all across the country -- like stars braving the lives of those around them. But given the humility that has defined your life I suspect it's harder for you to see something that's it's clear to everybody else around him. And that's how -- -- light you shine. Your vision example. A woman in the -- for so many others -- services. -- a similar laws in the hearts of millions you're roam around the world. And frankly. Just the fact that. You're such a gentleman. -- -- -- good and kind person. I think helps to reinforce. That's for the surface so. On -- of all of us let me just say that. We are surely kinder and gentler nation because of -- And we can't thank you enough -- So it is now. My great pleasure -- to join. President Bush and -- view and presenting. This extraordinary war to an extraordinary a couple of done so much for so many people we're very grateful to them. -- -- the way it's a step up and receive your award. Thank you. For this thing. Credible. -- We are. Humbled and honored to be chosen. As the five found. -- -- -- Not in our wildest dreams did we ever planned to be here. Form. Even imagined receiving in the war. In fact. After being in business for 34 years Floyd was -- and relaxing. Even sailing around the world what. But in 2003. He was asked to build and hate confident. Kevin -- leprosy hospital -- nick and he village -- the media. And that changed everything. When we got there we found children dying after patient there with no food. And -- -- Three little boys who works Gavin king for food. -- something which was -- that. And they died. We left her home over -- -- need. And by our need to do something. About it. We knew we had to send -- felt that people that can -- village. We packed our first 2000 me -- with volunteers. And our little town union Iowa. And we discovered that people -- to help and to Kenya. And Japan premiums. We started an organization called outreach. Each day we took another step toward a bigger operation. One day. We had one we had no intention of building. Which we were compelled to expand. We had to count. And others who are eager to help us. -- Labor Day volunteers all over Iowa. Helped -- four. Million premium. And in the United States and Canada tens of thousands. Of volunteers a fall age. And nationalities. Have so far helped -- to -- it. 232. Million meals. So her. After wasting time and time again. When people can't love themselves. When they share the burden. And they share the task of -- -- Light shine. -- -- All over anywhere -- Here -- -- Now I think we're gonna have you come up and going to have first. Driven by. -- -- -- -- -- And that hard to do he's been very active in this whole concept of -- period helping others. And so my represented entered his -- his first -- thank. President -- Obama for this wonderful hospitality. Like coming home for Barbara -- The prestigious coming -- this magnificent. House. Be greeted by this have to -- hospitality. Knows no. -- thank you very much Pam O'Neill. The Ford as dead as being moved to see. He may not be parachuting anymore but he's taken up and do. -- hobby and that is he's trying to be a style setter I don't know if you notice the socks. Q -- we're calling him a -- 41 that. My dad. You have said that if one wants to pursue a life of meaning and adventure. The way to do so -- to find dignity the dignity and goodness and every person. To help others in need and to become part of something bigger than ourselves. You and mom had lived an incredibly meaningful. In adventures. Lives. Thank you for inspiring so many to become points of light. That's an applause line. The entire bush family a special thanks to you Mr. President and Michelle. For inviting us in this most special place. And for your outstanding work to promote the service movement as a -- national priority. You understand and you spoke up. The fact that service is one of the things that truly brings our nation together it transcends politics. -- addresses problems that government alone cannot solve. We are so blessed in America -- have two occupants that are true points of light in your own ways and we thank you for your leadership in this area. Today we are celebrating the 5000. Daily points of light who represented the 65. Million Americans. Who engage themselves in the lives of others every year. These points of light -- what my dad calls -- soul of America. Years ago Dan asks us to imagine what would happen if all the points of light award winners decided to leave their home towns. And to move together into one place in America. Imagine if a stellar piper. Who talk fifty years and then used her retirement funds to start a -- is brilliant bus. -- all the children in the -- computer skills in the pro football player Israel Idonije AIDS Foundation got them all reading books and champion Floyd. -- created and nurtured the young people and -- Gloria ray Hammond mobilize the forces of good intervene. With troubled youth and Teach for America arrived in corporation's. -- youth and senior groups. Organize volunteers to work with charities to tutor to clean to -- to mentor. To serve as points of life. Regardless of its problems -- community like this. One where every person every group every institution. Gave even a small part of their time in service to others wouldn't be truly. Utterly transformed. That is our mission. To turn every place and in America into a community of like to deepened the culture of service that drives change. That is the power of the daily point of light program. Dead before you left the White House you spoke to all of the award winners and you said. If I could leave but one legacy to this country brought -- the L word which he never does in private behavior. It would not be in treaty signed. Or wars one. It would be that but returned to the moral compass that must guide America through the next century. I'm talking about a respect. For the goodness. That makes this country great. A rekindling of that light lit from within to reveal America's it truly is a country of millions of points of light. So thanks to all of you in this room -- I can. Call you out by name a mom admonished me church yes they did just told me keep it short so I won't. But thanks to all of -- in this room were points of light. -- and everyone across the country those that we've recognized with the daily point of light award in the millions more who not found recognition. But -- -- solving the biggest challenges facing our nation to all of them we say thank you. I undercut him moms looking -- me -- -- -- -- applause. Now it is my pleasure is chair of the points of light number truly honored to serve with such an outstanding board. To introduce the CEO of points of light a true leader of the national service movement Michelle -- Thank you -- Perrier boundless optimism and to -- incredibly gracious spirit and leadership. I think we share a number of things in common one of them is that we have no not since mother's and my mother also. Her only guidance was keep it short as well. Said thank you president and mrs. bush for your lives of service that you bring us here together today where you are so proud. To carry on your legacy. And how to continue to give out this award. That you created to showcase the power of people to create change. The daily points of light gathered here today I think are -- beautiful tribute to your lives and your work. And thank you to president and mrs. Obama. For sustaining and dramatically growing national and community service he carried on the tradition of presidential leadership. Calling Americans to cut our compassion our ingenuity. Our perseverance to work to lift up our neighbors. To build our communities. And to serve our nation. Over the past three decades our -- have shown us how we can work together through service. They have literally rolled up their sleeves and -- called the nation's volunteer. From building houses with habitat for humanity. To rebuilding after disasters. To. To joining hands to support our veterans. And I believe it is in these humble acts of serving others that our presidents the most powerful individuals on earth. Have demonstrated America's two strains. That made it clear that -- there -- people in need Americans come together across all that divides us to help. And when there's a job to do. To clean up the Mississippi River or rebuild after super storm sandy we don't ask about political parties. Or faith or -- income. When it comes to ensuring that people get food and shelter and a helping hand. We get together and we get busy. The daily points of light award calls the nation back to an essential understanding of who we are as Americans. It was President Bush is genius to put -- daily spotlight on these individuals and actions that embody the very best of our nation. The award is an into -- into the dispiriting cynicism that too often pervades our news and our discourse. It reminds us that people care. And that hope is the story the true story of America. For 2.4 years 5000 points of light have shown us that we can create a better future together. So I want to introduce you to two daily points of light who represents the next generation of possibilities. -- -- -- -- -- Yachts broke his classes and while he was waiting for a new -- he realized how hard it was to learn any -- without being able to see. And he discovered how many kids can not afford glasses at all. So he started a project called site learning. Which has caught the which has collected and distributed more than 350000. Dollars worth of used eyeglasses to students and a half a dozen countries around the world. Corals can use stands. -- -- like so many points of light has transformed personal tragedy into a platform for serving others Darius was four years old when his father was murdered. He spent eleven years and Foster care without encouragement and advocates. And then in high school. A biology teacher told Darius that he had great potential. That he believed in him. So one caring adults who believes. Sparked areas to pursue scholarships and grants to attend Morehouse College. But not satisfied with his own personal success. Darius wrote a book and -- -- million dollars scholar and in just one year. He's helped thousands of students get the scholarships that they need. -- -- -- -- I'd like to invite all points of light award winners that are here with us today to stand so that we can recognize him. And celebrate here contribution. Thank you law. -- how many others across the nation are examples of America's greatness. -- -- us that we can create impact at a scale and at a speed that was formally unimaginable. The future of citizen service is brighter than it ever -- individuals have more power to create change than they ever have. And each new points of light will make that future brighter still. So it's for that reason that I'm thrilled to announce today that Disney is making a significant investment to help ensure that we are able to lift up the next thousand points of -- -- -- -- President and mrs. banks we can hardly imagine the transforming changes these next. Points of light will bring. But I -- that they will eliminate our path that they will carry forward. Your spirit and they will reflect on your legacy of service. And they will shadow and live mouse your example and your words President Bush they will show us not only what is best in our heritage. But what all of us are called to become. Thank you very much. Mars -- work to all. Points of light award recipients were probably. Congratulations. And keep up the great work in the inspire us and make us want -- do that much more especially. When you see young people who are already making such a difference and and such an impact -- -- enormous confidence. That. America for all its challenges. Will always meet them because we've got this incredible character and would that what -- -- dues once again thank. President and mrs. bush for their outstanding leadership. We are so grateful -- both of you. Want to thank -- four and his leadership and -- want to make sure that everybody in Georgia's a reception I suspect the food may be pretty good so. Thank you very much -- -- -- -- -- Honor that was first started about 43 years ago me. By president. George H. W. Bush partygoers bush 41. Those in attendance. Words -- president. As well presenting today is to recipients of one of bringing NBC news political director Rick Klein. Rick it began with a political speech back in 89 but this program which recognizes volunteer efforts on a daily basis has really become a bipartisan favorite. It has and this is a nice moment whatever goes on and our partisanship in the wars between -- different families and politics and different parties that have. President HW bush clearly he's been -- appear at the White House to celebrate the at this this milestone the 5000. A daily point of light there's. I think it is is a nice moment I think President Obama has shown more respect for the bush legacy in recent months that. A man who ran for president against bush 43 of 441 son. And in no great lover of the 41 legacy either but it's come to respectful men come to respect the family and celebrate a bipartisan accomplishment. It really is interest him you look at the relationships that present and past presidents. You think about the relationship that President Clinton has had with -- President Bush. And now with President Obama with President Bush 41. Because as you mention that cross past couple of times recently. That's right it's called the president's -- and it is -- and and I think there's something about being on the inside. Of that -- that it gives you appreciation of people that have been there before it's easy to criticize. Until you get on the inside and we have that meeting in Tanzania a few weeks back of bush 43 and President Obama appearing together in. President Obama celebrating what would President Bush did in terms of Eads company aids in Africa. We also saw President Bush recently weighing in on the immigration debate in favor of a bill getting done the same way that President Obama wants it done now. And then to have an event like -- he had they did the meeting of the club back in April the bush presidential library opening at just outside of Dallas that I think sort of kicked off this this unusual series of a couple of months and then of course there's the Clinton Obama relationship with his. Fraught with history back to 2008 campaign the two men from very close throughout the campaign in the -- The united. People give credit to President Clinton for helping President Obama among blue collar democratic. Voters and light -- absolutely the town of today's ceremony which obviously it is to recognize those that are given back to the community's. Small and large. And -- did -- -- -- ask you about this think is as we heard reference viable President Bush and his son Neil Bush. Barbara Bush still has a very strong influence in the family that -- nine. She does she is still is the that the matriarch and -- you hear the same thing from my George W. Bush. As well in backing back in April was she went off script a little bit when she opined that the country had enough bushes. For president which may be a surprise that Jeb Bush is pondering his when he sixteen runs -- yes she is still very strong influence a very strong woman and and someone that George W. Bush is always described as a big influence in terms of his personality bigger probably -- his -- that. And and President Bush saying a few words again kind of -- -- the spotlight on him but really on the recipients of the what's life on her. But introducing his son Neil who is the chair of the organization. But he can't make quite a statement. With those socks I don't know we have video but it is a trademark the president there it is right -- sort of a Dr. Seuss look to a this is -- this is the Sigmund. He's he's become known for this in his in his retirement in the post presidential years that yes he enjoys the occasional. Outside and I have to say is it -- -- great to see. The former president -- day -- my mind he looked and sounded stronger than he did a few months ago -- last. -- -- -- -- I know that the family -- talked about. Some close calls he's had health -- around the the end of last year into being in this year's it's great to see him strong and able to appreciate an event like today. And now probably have to see if Jonathan Karl's -- -- compete with that kind of fashion forward in this rights. I Jon Karl is is famous for his socks as well in the over all the pictures of those in it it just that the interview with. President George W. Bush and Africa few weeks facts of media. Davies respecting that presidential legacy right there we've been -- back and forth I'm serious I think we'd have a sock off challenge John -- and bush 41. ABC news political director -- Rick thank you so much for your time experience that this has been a special group. Report from me.

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