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. Bedtime for Obonzo

    There's no comparison between the two goals. GHWB's focus was on volunteerism. Obama's focus is (of course) on throwing federal dollars are projects deemed worthy.

    October 16, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  2. Lillie

    Wonderful!

    October 16, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. Bedtime for Obonzo

    Also, good post Doc.

    October 16, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. GREG

    By a liberal who obviously doesn't know better:

    "We need more non-partisan people in Washington to work together more than hearing Republicans bickering about Obama's issues that would lead the country into the wrong direction."

    Do you NOT see that THIS very attitude breeds the contempt the "other" side has for liberals? I'm NOT saying liberals are the only ones, but hypocrisy definitely runs deeper on the left. In the same breath you say we should act bipartisan, but ONLY propose how republicans should change THEIR behavior. If you seriously want to craft a bipartisan approach to thses issues, look in the mirror FIRST, recognize your own faults and errors, and only THEN can you point the finger across the fence. If politicians and the rest of us could do that, we'd be a lot better off. But as long as we continue with your type of holier-than-thou attitude, nothing changes.

    October 16, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. Bigdog in Texas

    You dont have to be so partisan to appreciate the effort these men have and our making to others. I am not a conservative or a Republican. I know people in College Station or protesting. It is a standing President honoring a past President for his volunteer effort. Get over it. I met W when he was running for Governor years ago. I did not agree with his policies, but I respect his effort. We hold them so high and lose site that no matter what they do, someone is unhappy, that they are working for us no matter what, and that we are all blessed to be able to complain on a computer, when so many don't have a home. Ideology aside, get past the remarks and let one man give another man an award with no grief.

    October 16, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. Sally Yang

    Welcome to Aggieland, Mr. President!!!

    October 16, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. pageturner

    Two class acts...

    October 16, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. LacrosseMom(stuck in moderation)

    Nice to see two presidents working together for the common good.

    A breath of fresh air from the usual vile politics.

    October 16, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  9. A 50-year Democrat no more. Now an independent with brains.

    Yes they can do this. They were and are now the two of the three worst Presidents this country has ever had. George Jr. being the third one. Come 2010 and 2012 we will start over America by voting incumberents out. They do not vote or carry your interest to Washington with them.

    October 16, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  10. karen

    Isn't it time to stop with the name calling and put downs now....

    And this is to you Mr. 50 year democrat no more....Shouldn't you be old enough to know better? Where are all the grown ups for god's sake.....

    October 16, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  11. Willy Brown

    Obummer only went there to rub it in.

    October 16, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  12. Gar

    Volunteering is great. Hope Bush talks to Obama about cutting back on his deficit spending and malpractice reform. Obama could learn a lot from Bush 41.

    October 16, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  13. Dave From Philly

    I too am no fan of the former Pres. GHWB, but I have a lot of respect for the way he handled the first Gulf War. No respect for his domestic policies.

    He has done a lot to bring the light to many important causes after leaving office and he should be commended for his work.

    Some people have so much hate in their hearts that they don't know a good idea, person, situation or work when they see it. Yes that includes the currenty president.

    October 16, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  14. EBJ

    I can see that President Bush number One has been out of the loop a bit because doesn't he know as a Republican he is NOT supposed to agree with President Obama on ANYTHING...less known work with him and give him any kind of compliment. It's bad enough he's been running around doing things with President Clinton but now Obama. If he keeps this kind of stufff up he's going to be labeled a RINO.....Republican In Name Only by the far right and tea baggers. He better go watch Rush and Hannity and see how a REAL Reublican nowadays is supposed to act.

    October 16, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  15. Former Navy Seal

    Now that's the Obama I voted for!!!

    Bipartisan OR Partisan – who cares!!! I want nice and hard working people rewarded !!

    October 16, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  16. Jim

    I didn't vote for George Bush Sr. but I have always appreciated that he cares deeply about people. I appreciate his spirit of service and am glad to see President Obama working with him.

    October 16, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  17. Obama worst president EVER

    Bush is a class act...must take all his self control to stand next to an idiot like Obama.

    October 16, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  18. Doc

    Uh oh!..This is like being painted into a corner......
    When a Barack Obama goal does not differ in any way from George H.W.Bush's "One Thousand Points of Light." policy....How can republicans make it sound bad?
    Oh that's right..... facts won't matter...they'll make something up!
    How sad is it, that the small minded republicans cannot get past bigotry, greed, and hatred long enough to serve the people of America fairly? It's the UNITED States of America, and they were elected to SERVE THE PEOPLE. Let's hope they start doing it...before it's too late!!

    October 16, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  19. Dan

    I'm not a Republican and never voted for G.H.W. Bush, but I always respected his statesmanship and often felt, through all the politics, that the man has heart and brings it to his work. I have always said that he was the best Republican president since Eisenhower. His POL Institute and his efforts with Clinton after the 2004 tsunami have further cemented my respect for the man. I would really enjoy hearing his conversations with President Obama.

    October 16, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  20. Lady Dee

    fellow from chicago October 16th, 2009 12:47 pm ET

    Mr. President, take Obama skydiving with you on your next birthday. We then can only hope.
    -------------------------------

    When you are driving in your car today or any other day . . . . . ONE CAN ONLY hope!

    October 16, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  21. Lady Dee

    Obama worst president EVER October 16th, 2009 3:51 pm ET

    Bush is a class act…must take all his self control to stand next to an idiot like Obama.
    --------------------------------

    If Bush 41 is a class act . . . . I wonder what tacky looks like?

    October 16, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  22. YBM

    THE DIFFERENCE IN A LIBERAL AND CONSERVATIVE If a conservative doesn’t like guns, he won’t buy one. If a liberal doesn’t like guns, he tries to prevent everyone from having one. If a conservative is a vegetarian, he won’t eat meat. If a liberal is, he tries to ban all meat products for everyone. If a conservative sees a foreign threat, he thinks about how to defeat his enemy. While a liberal wonders how to surrender gracefully and still look good. (Like the French) If a conservative is homosexual, he quietly enjoys his life. If a liberal is homosexual, he loudly demands legislated respect. If a black man or Hispanic is conservative, he sees himself as independently successful. His liberal counterparts see themselves as victims in need of government protection. If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him. If a conservative doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels. A liberal demands all talk show hosts they do not agree with be taken off the air. If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church. A liberal wants God banned from society. If a conservative needs health care, he goes shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that all his neighbors pay for his.--This guy nailed it!!

    October 16, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  23. YBM

    This whole Obama thing is real fishy. I am no Hillary Clinton fan but Obama should never have been able to beat her in the primaries. A first term junior Senator that spent his first two years voting present and his last two years campaigning for the office of President, against Hillary's experience and popularity? and winning???? That by itself smells, but then to win the presidency of the US??? This whole situation is rank. No thinking or intelligent person would have voted for this guy. I guess it shows the dumbing down of America is working. America is being sent the same way the Roman Empire went and for the same reasons. Only a lot faster. At least the Roman's had a thousand years or so.

    October 16, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  24. Derrick

    Kyle...you are an idiot! Your comment shows how stupid you are. If I knew who you were I would take you to the wood shed and teach you some manners you racist jerk

    October 16, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  25. Derrick

    To the idiot who posted about "Bush taking Obama skydiving and then we can hope"...what are you implying? If anything happens to our first black President from one of you racist idiots...believe me, you will have HELL to pay. Keep listening to Rush limbaugh and his hate speaches....you will have nowhere to run or hide

    October 16, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
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