Remarks at the Launch the Coalition for America's Children 03/03/97

Office of the Press Secretary
Monday, March 3, 1997

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    The East Room

  • THE PRESIDENT: I want to thank all those who have been a part of this. Alex Kroll, thank you for what you said and for reminding us that we're about the business of helping parents, not disrespecting the difficulties they face. Christine Benero, thank you. Eva Kasten, the Executive Vice President of the Advertising Council, thank you. I thank the Benton Foundation, the AT&T Foundation, the Packard Foundation.

    I'd like to thank the people in our administration probably most directly involved in helping our children who are here today -- Secretary Riley, Secretary Shalala, and Harris Wofford, the head of the Corporation for National Service.

    But most of all, I want to thank Bradley Pine and Lonzo Warren for coming here to share their story. Their relationship is a powerful example of what could be done all over America if we move from vague rhetoric to specific action directed at helping and supporting all of our children.

    Just think of what would happen in this country if every single child who needed a mentor had one. Think of what would happen if every person out there who is willing to volunteer to help knew where to go and how to do it. The public service message we just saw that Hillary and I were honored to participate in is simply designed to remind every American that there are children out there who need our support, and to tell every American who wants to serve that there is a way to serve and we will help you do it.

    We know that being a parent is the most difficult and important job in the world. And we know that everyone has to help. Hillary has been working on these children's issues since before I met her, a long time ago now, and I think that the book that she wrote did capture the image of the village raising our children. But it should not be allowed to obscure the fact that what that really means is that each and every one of us has a personal responsibility to do our part. And also, thanks to this effort, it will be easier for people to understand how to exercise that responsibility.

    I'm especially fond of the work that we have done in this regard. We've done all we could to encourage citizen service. We now have more than 50,000 young people working in AmeriCorps, earning money to go to college. Many, many of them are helping our children in supportive ways.

    Last summer, we launched our America Reads program to try to mobilize one million volunteer tutors in America to make sure that by the year 2000 every single 8-year-old in this country can read independently and will have a chance to make the most of his or her education. Today, I am pleased to announce that Scholastic Books is donating one million books to help us reach that goal. We need more companies like Scholastic Books to give more Americans the opportunity to serve.

    In January, I was proud to stand right here with President Bush and General Colin Powell and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros to announce that we are convening the first ever President's Summit of Service in April in Philadelphia, to bring together business, religious, community leaders committed to support citizen service with resources and volunteers. With their help, I hope we can make the plea we make in this public service announcement a reality for tens of thousands of more people in the United States.

    This public service announcement is just what it seems to be. It seeks to help in mobilizing a volunteer force of Americans. It reflects the wisdom that no impersonal bureaucracy can ever replace the magic that we saw here between Bradley and Lonzo, or the feeling that Lonzo expressed for his own family, who are here with him today. What we can do is to make it possible for more things like that to happen, and to give our children the basic supports they need to make it happen. But in the end, we must make this vast, big, complicated society of ours more of a society in which we all feel that we should volunteer and, like Bradley, we know we're going to be better off for doing it; we'll get more out of it than we give. We have to create the networks to facilitate that kind of volunteerism.

    The public service announcement, as you saw, gives people a number to call, a web site to visit, to learn about organizations in their very own communities where they can volunteer their time --to become a reading tutor or a math coach, or a mentor to a child in need. Beginning today, anyone visiting the White House home page on the Internet will be able to connect to the coalition's web site with just a click of the mouse, and find out what they can do to help.

    The more people this message reaches, the more children will be helped. So far, some of our biggest television, cable and radio networks have committed to air this message during times when it will have the best chance of inspiring the largest number of people. Newsweek, The New York Times and People Magazine will also run the message in their pages. And movie-goers will see it in theatres all over the country, thanks to promotion slide and cinema advertisers. This is a very good start.

    But let me encourage other media organizations around the country to help to make sure this message is heard by as many people as possible -- to help to work with us to encourage the spirit of service in America, to strengthen our families, to improve the lives of our children one at a time.

    Whenever you think about what else we can do, just think of Bradley and Lonzo and multiply it by millions, and imagine the America we can make together. Thank you. God bless you. (Applause.)

    Remarks at the Launch the Coalition for America's Children 03/03/97

    Remarks at the Launch the Coalition for America's Children 03/03/97

    Remarks at the Launch the Coalition for America's Children 03/03/97

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