October 16th, 2009
12:24 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama, Bush turn bipartisan focus to volunteerism

President Barack Obama will attend a community service forum hosted by former President George H.W. Bush  .
President Barack Obama will attend a community service forum hosted by former President George H.W. Bush .

(CNN) – President Barack Obama will be at Texas A&M University to attend a community service forum Friday hosted by one of his Republican predecessors, former President George H.W. Bush.

The two leaders will meet at Bush's presidential library to celebrate almost two decades of work from the Points of Light Institute, which was
founded with Bush's encouragement in 1990 to "encourage and empower the spirit of service," according to the group's Web site.

The Institute takes its name from Bush's 1989 inaugural address, where he referenced "a thousand points of light ... all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the nation, doing good."

Obama latched onto the theme during last year's presidential campaign. He signed a measure in April designed to strengthen national community service efforts by boosting federal funding for thousands of volunteers in fields ranging from clean energy to health care and education.


The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, renamed to honor the late senator's sponsorship of the measure, will more than triple the number of positions in the AmeriCorps program, from 75,000 to 250,000, by 2017.

"Our government can help to rebuild our economy ... (but) we need Americans willing to mentor our eager young children, or care for the sick, or ease the strains of deployment on our military families," Obama said when signing the bill into law.

"All that's required on your part is a willingness to make a difference. And that is, after all, the beauty of service. Anybody can do it."

The law created four new national service corps and launched several other initiatives, including, among other things, a "Summer of Service" program to spur greater community outreach by middle- and high-school students. Older Americans were encouraged to volunteer more through the creation of a "Silver Scholars" program, under which individuals 55 and older who perform 350 hours of service receive a $1,000 award.

The law increased the existing AmeriCorps educational stipend offered to volunteers to $5,350 - the same amount as the maximum Pell college grant.

Some critics have contended the measure, expected to cost roughly $6 billion over the next five years, is fiscally irresponsible in light of the
current economic downturn. They also argue that the concept of volunteerism is undermined by providing financial compensation for community service.

Points of Light Institute CEO Michelle Nunn, however, praised the legislation for encouraging people to "volunteer their time and talents to
positively impact the nation's largest problems."

–CNN's Alan Silverleib contributed to this report


Filed under: George H.W. Bush • President Obama
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. Gator

    It's Louisiana, aunt bea and opie, you goober. If your gonna insult someone at least learn how to spell.

    October 16, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  2. Centrist

    President Obama continues to reach out to Republicans in a respectful effort to make improvements for all Americans.

    October 16, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  3. rudy

    why are you on the left always so angry?

    October 16, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  4. Shirley In California

    This is one Bush, I respect. He actually understands the meaning of the word "bipartisan" and what the office of the presidency really means.

    Thank you Mr. Bush for setting such a prime example for those who are so lost and so ignorant in your party.

    He is the last of the real republican party.

    October 16, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  5. felicia

    President Obama is doing a wonderful job, he is what truly good people stand for.

    October 16, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  6. townna brown

    now lets see what fox news has to saY ABOUT THIS

    October 16, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  7. Ken, AZ

    Those of you sneering about community service and volunteerism, at least these efforts help some ordinary Americans. Why didn't you complain when Haliburton and other right leaning organizations were given billions of tax dollars just to line their pockets? Finally someone is paying attention to ordinary Americans, not just the rich and well connected. And, I'm willing to bet that you are neither rich nor well connected; just water carriers for thr right.

    October 16, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  8. doolin1

    We need more stories like this. Problems needs to be solved. Period. Let go of your anger and fear America. Who cares who gets credit if our country and our people benefit? Keep your mind open and quit being a partisan. By the way, I voted for Bush in '88 and Obama in '08. Pragmatism should always trump ideology.

    October 16, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  9. victim of republican greed

    This has to be hard on the wingnuts to see that a democrat and a republican can work together.

    Rush and Glenn will trash Bush the Elder over this.

    October 16, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  10. victim of republican greed

    It is hard for wingnuts to see beyond Fox Lies.

    October 16, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  11. JonDie

    So if George H.W. Bush is so supporting of volunteerism, how come he didn't each ANY of his kids to do volunteer work?

    In fact his most famous son, George Dubya Bush, spent the Vietnam War AWOL, probably in a brothel shooting up drug or in rehab, while his fellow soldiers were dying.

    October 16, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  12. The Voice

    I always thought Bush I was a good man, just really stupid to run a country.

    On the other hand, his son, Bush II, a bad man and just an idiot to run a country.

    October 16, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  13. liberalshavenoballs

    To Shoegazer- That light you see is the lantern Obama is holding for President George H. W. Bush.

    October 16, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  14. Brian from Texas

    Welcome to Aggieland Mr. President!
    Gig'em
    Fightin Texas Aggie Class 2004

    Roland Martin must be very excited.

    October 16, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  15. southerncousin

    Oh you nasty libitards. For DJ@Rick Sanchez has yet to apologize for those lies he told about Rush on the libs favorite cable news fanatasy network and FOX's Glenn Beck has actually installed a hot line for the White House to call if he ever doesn't tell the truth. No calls yet. And you libitards continue to be as mean and nasty class (not classy) warriors, debasing event this supposeldly bi-partisan meeting of the minds. LIberals lie.

    October 16, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. JT the concerned College Freshman from MO

    This is fantastic. This a prime example of how all of us should treat eachother. Working together as Democrat and Republican to try to bring our country back to helping one another. If we all did just that, I bet we could accomplish a lot more than what we think possible.
    PS: fellow from Chicago, I hope you did not intend for that statement to be a threat to President Obama getting seriously hurt or injured. People have been known to die because of accidents associated with sky diving.
    If you did not mean that, I suggest you change your wording, so people do not accuse you of hoping the President gets seriously hurt or worse.
    "Truly loving another means letting go of all expectations. It means full acceptance, even celebration of another's personhood."
    -Karen Casey
    It is time for us to work together as one people of this nation. I am 18, and I have hope that we can achieve the status of a true global super power again. Lets not let us down. I have hope. CNN, please post this!

    October 16, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  17. MaryK

    Where is the real story – why don't YOU put down the bong and get some class. People who don't show respect usually don't have much respect for themselves.

    October 16, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  18. Andi

    Why the negativity? What's the deal with some people? If you are so concerned that your beloved tax money is being wasted, why not volunteer yourself, or perhaps go to one of the meetings and find out what AmeriCorp is all about? Sitting in the comfort of your own home screaming about OUR President accomplishes nothing. Some act like if there is no benefit for them, personally, every program is a 'waste'. You are NOT the only person on the planet, and certainly not the only person living in the US. Some folks need help, some are willing to give it, some are just willing to complain.

    Way to make lemons from lemonade!

    October 16, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  19. debbie

    If only Jeb Bush had been the eldest son, maybe things wouldn't have gone so awry. I don't know that he's a better person than W necessarily, but he's certainly much more intelligent, much less ignorant, and maybe not as awfully incompetent as his brother.

    On the other hand – only the terrible presidency of GW Bush could have woken up the sleeping populace of America to embrace Barack Obama. So for that, I will always be grateful to W, and in fact consider his "reign of terror" to be the price we had to pay to get a good leader.

    October 16, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  20. Hrm...

    If this was W. Bush working with his father, it would be acclaim and applause. Since it's Obama, it's calls of corruption and game playing.

    Interesting the difference political fanaticism makes.

    grow up, people.

    October 16, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  21. Angus McDugan

    Watch this... I'll do it again.

    BUSH

    Now nobody will read this line because that are focused on the line above. I could say or day anything after I throw Bush's name out. Wow! What a great way to divert attention.

    October 16, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  22. Independent

    I'm not a Bush fan but some of you are hooked on STUPID....To right anything negative about someone's mother whether former president or not is pure IGNORANCE!!!!!!

    October 16, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  23. W l Jones

    The two of them shows the dept of our political system in this country.. dont be fool by party wrangle.

    October 16, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  24. Dawn

    Someone needs to keep him out of Texas... really now, he's not about the American People or fixing our problems. He's all about himself and POWER. Fix the American problems, get the government out of everything, find freedom! Protect our soldiers, stop telling I have to buy your health care, I have my own thank you. I am a veteran's wife. I have health care for what he has done voluntarily for your freedom. Remember his own words: take a cut in your health care, when blasted he remarked like a retard would who never really worked... it's voluntary no one asked them to join. What an ASS.

    October 16, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  25. Steve, New York City

    Bush '41 is one of the more "under-rated" modern Presidents. He's good guy.

    Speaking of his son, it is a shame that "the apple fell very far from the tree"

    October 16, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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