(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.
There is a reason why George H.W. Bush is so highly regarded amongst a vast majority of Americans. He is my favorite "recent" president and I wish we could have another man like him in office.
lol. Hows that whole "Change" thing working out for you guys? I voted for the joke Obama in 2008. I deeply regret it. I am waiting for a 3rd party candidate before I start voting again. Both party's are complete failures.
Great President, Good Bless you always.....
President Bush was a good man.I'm proud to have voted for him in '88 & 92.
Just like the Bush family to help rehabilitate the anti-American socialist in chief, right when he is on his political death bed.
No more Bushes. They are not conservatives. They are slightly right leaning democrats. As in: RINOs.
They are big government creeps just like all good democrats.
He sings his praises because when you get right down to the nuts and bolts of it they are both working for the same goal, a one world order. The CFR has them in their back pocket, sorry W lovers but that's just the way of it, the MSM is also in their back pocket.
Wheres the hate towards heartless republicans? gee wiz
Thank you President Bush for several things: 1) Being yet another puppet of banking and corporate interests; 2) fathering GW Bush, who was one of the worst Presidents ever; 3) for paving the way for our current President, who is more enthusiastic than either your or your stupid son to break the middle class and turn American into a third world country. THANKS!
Of corse Obama sings Bush Praises, he is practically a republican. But Bush 41 was director of the CIA for a long time so maybe we weren't really that gentle.
So all of the presidents may insult each other publicly but are really in the same club together, all buddy buddy
The headline is SO misleading to anyone not bothing to read the article. He is not praising the know nothing miscreant bumbling toadstool who occupied the WH right before him, but the WWII vet and what today appears moderate conservative from back before President Clinton cleaned up the messes of ronald reagan.
Back in those days Poppy bush seemed like a kind pf feckless conservative, but one who was open to reason, one who knew enough to call reaganomics, that supply side laffer curve nonsense conservatives STILL trot out –"voodoo economics" - put together an actual coalition and built international support for expelling saddam, but knew enough to stop short of an illegal invasion.......supported tax increases when they were needed, supported ADA, IDEA, and pther social programs that made life better.
I pther words, he was that old breed of conservative that no longer exists. He was still too far right on most things, but he was not an extremist nut case like conservatives today.
Gentler, ha. Gentler up close, lethal from a distance, and in the shadows.
Sorry Barack, you don't really know him very well, just what you've been told. But you like a lot of us were told to be nice to your elders. He like a lot of men will be judged in time.
After praising Bush first Obama then blamed him for having a son who looks like W.
BO didn't say until later that he felt it still is all your son's fault.
Two war criminals patting each other on the back.
We will Never have a Gentler nation as long as this Divider is in power. He has single handedly destroyed any chance of American coming together and working for a greater nation...sad.
The funny part is even Obama can get past partisan BS knowing he is already in office just his worshippers and lemming followers cannot get past their racist irrational Marxist spawned hate for Bush 41 or the son 43. Both of whom did at least fiscally a better job than he has.
He is just trying to score brownie points with conservatives....sorry, not going to work!
What Obama really meant to say was, "Respected because of YOU".
Something Obama has been unable to do.
Come to think of it, what has Obama done.................OH yeah, got better at golfing. I knew there was something. LOL
this man was the cia director when cocaine was flown into the US on cia chartered flights which resulted in mass chaos through the 90's I seriously doubt the nation is gentler because of bush senior
These 2 guys will go down as ok presidents.
Apparently the reporter who worte this story has never read aabout the Peace Corps which was founded by John Kennedy.
This phrase from speech writer Peggy Noonan sure has legs. I always thought she got the idea from Chairman Mao, "let a thousand flowers bloom", but maybe she got it from somewhere else –The phrase was previously found in C.S. Lewis's 1955 novel The Magician's Nephew, in which Lewis wrote: "One moment there had been nothing but darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leaped out."
You've got to be kidding!