(CNN) – It was a homecoming for former President George H.W. and former first lady Barbara Bush at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Monday where they joined President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, in presenting the Points of Light honor for extraordinary work in community service.
The Points of Light Foundation, now the world's largest service organization coordinating volunteer projects, started during the Bush administration. The 41st president serves as the non-partisan, non-profit foundation's honorary chairman and his son, Neil Bush, is the president.
Obama thanked the former president for his long legacy of community service.
"In addition to this award, he created the first White House office dedicated to promoting volunteerism, and he championed and signed the National and Community Service Act,” Obama said.
The law helped jumpstart AmeriCorps, a federal program that places volunteers in a variety of nonprofit organizations around the country.
Obama credited Bush with setting off a sea change of volunteerism among Americans.
"Volunteerism has gone from something some people do some of the time to something lots of people do as a regular part of their lives," the president said.
"We are surer a kinder and gentler nation because of you," he added.
The two presidents welcomed the 5,000th award recipients Kathy Hamilton and Floyd Hammer, co-founders of a leading national charity called Outreach, and commended them for extraordinary volunteer work.
"Thank you for this incredible award," Ms. Hamilton said. "Not in our wildest dreams did we ever plan to be here or ever imagined receiving this award."
The Outreach organization works to provide safe water, food, medical care and education to children and those in need, both at home and abroad.
"We're from Union, Iowa, which is a town of only 394 people – and it's amazing that a handful of people from this small town can make such a big difference,” Hammer said.
According to one of the co-founders, they have donated 232 million meals so far.
"The more of us who are making a difference, the better this world will be,” Hammer added.
Obama continued Monday's charity theme with an announcement of his new task force that will “take a fresh look at how we can better support national service in schools; recovering from disasters and mentoring our kids."
The task force will be led by a team of representatives from his Cabinet agencies and led by Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.
As for Bush, he said he will continue to be able to express his commitment to highlighting volunteerism and community service in America through his Points of Light Foundation.
The 89-year-old former president has battled health problems. He had been hospitalized this past winter suffering complications related to bronchitis.
Bush also has a form of Parkinson's disease that affects his legs and requires him to use a wheelchair.
His last public appearance was at the opening of his son President George W. Bush's presidential library in April.
File this under "Stuff Presidents Feel Obliged To Say To Each Other".
By the way, in this case, the sentiment is totally false. Bush 41 left us with a typically nasty Republican recession, with homelessness even worse than in the Reagan years. "Kinder and gentler nation", "thousand points of light" were just two of Bush 41's phrases that were mocked. Neil Young's sarcastic rocker from 1990, "Keep on Rocking in the Free World", summed up the era incisively.
bush's helping of Kuwait in 1990 was the reason Osama bin laden attacked the usa several times including 9/11. no foreign policy is the best foreign policy
Great! Did he praise Hitler too? Just go ahead and join the Republican Party since you're obviously not a Democrat and certainly not a Liberal. STATUS QUO. Same old stuff.
please...Obama is just going thru the motions...W was the worst President Ever!!
We were a gentler nation because of Bush. We are no longer because of Obama.
Obama, it's not going to help.
The Tea Party hates Bush worse than the Dems.
Obama needs to kiss up to Pappa Bush or he'll be left out of the "in crowd" when he's out of office
Does this make anyone else just feel like vomiting?
IIs this Bizzaro World? Is up down and sideways straight ahead? I don't know what alternate reality I'm in, but I thionk I want out...
He was far from my hero but nobody should have put clown socks on him for a public appearance.
I saw the ceremony today and really appreciated the kind words from Obama toward Bush, he was really nice.
Bush 1 ... capable. Bush 2 ... ah, not so much.
I did not know Papa Bush was responsible for all of this. This is nice to know. I must add that Michelle looks fantastic in that outfit.
Barry has come along way. He's learning to respect his betters.
George H. W. Bush, in my opinion, a man of personal courage, quiet decency, no outter sham, but inner substance. The precise opposite of his son.
We're a 'gentler nation,' because of him. And a poorer nation thanks to his idiot son.
G.H.W. was a pretty good president. There was a serious drop in the quality of genetic transfer to G.W. though.
beautiful thing seen two presidents from two different parties join together and having a good time celebrating a common cause. This shows that no matter what ideology or party, be liberal or conservative, we are Americans first and we can't forget that.
God speed, Mr. President. You are always welcome around my campfire, Sir.
."We are surer a kinder and gentler nation because of you,"..... But in totality and because my administration is fundamentally dishonest - this place is messed up to the ceiling.
That... is just hilarious! It is a "Gentler" nation... high on old george's afghan candy... maybe
Bush and obama. To losers.
Well this is all nice. No kidding, it is.
that's how you know Obama is in big time trouble.
Okay, I need to bring this up.
It's okay for a Marine (I think i's a Marine to help Bush #41 get around in a wheelchair but it's not okay for a Marine to hold an umbrella for Obama #43 and a guest?
Where are the right wing zealots complaining and putting down #41 for thinking that he is better than a serviceman and how dare he think he can use the military to help him.