Michelle Obama speaking at NCVS 09
The launch of the National Conference on Volunteering and Service Monday night brought a huge crowd of people out to hear First Lady Michelle Obama speak, among other familiar faces.
When I arrived, the throngs of people waiting in line to go through security matched the throngs of people already inside the hall, and everyone was waiting for Michelle Obama. Helping the time fly was comic/emcee Wally Collins who made fun of individual audience members between introducing musical acts like Sondre Lerche and the Glide Ensemble. Also in the lead-in to the main event, Shawn Rubin accepted the Eli Segal Award from AmeriCorps Alums, Alan Khazei of Be the Change, Inc., spoke introducing corporate sponsor Shannon Schuyler of PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
The highlight of the night didn’t come at the end, as I would have expected. Michelle Obama took the stage somewhere in the middle of the opening event, and everyone in the crowd cheered and stood if they could. Her words were inspiring of course, but I was more stunned by the simple fact of her presence—the President’s wife chose to spend time with us. She used to run a Public Allies AmeriCorps program—and said to start that she was with her people. What I liked the best about what she said was the reaction she and President Obama received when they each decided to forego lucrative careers for nonprofit jobs—Mrs. Obama at Public Allies and Pres. Obama at various nonprofits like the Developing Communities Project where he was a community organizer. She said, regarding people in our lives who dismiss our career choices: “But what these folks don’t understand is that the story of progress in this nation has always been the story of people who chose — in times of trial and struggle — to serve it.”
Mrs. Obama also announced the launch of the United We Serve summer of service initiative, which will last through Sept. 11th of this year, which will make community service easy to do for anyone, and focus on health care, energy Continue reading
Today, President Obama made the following remarks before signing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.
The transcript was released by the Office of the White House Press Secretary. Re-play the signing and hear the speech for yourself on CSPAN.
Thank you. Please be seated. Thank you. Well, what an extraordinary day. It is good to be here with all of you.
I want to, first of all, thank President Bill Clinton for joining us here today — where’s President Clinton? — (applause) — for his lifetime of service to our country, but also the fact that he created AmeriCorps, and that not only made this day possible, it has directly enlisted more than half a million Americans in service to their country; service that has touched the lives of millions more.
Now, it just so happens that one of those people who have been touched by AmeriCorps was FLOTUS, otherwise known as First Lady of the United States — (laughter) — Michelle Obama, who ran a AmeriCorps-sponsored Continue reading
Update, April 21, 2009: President Obama signs the Serve America Act into law. To take effect October 1, 2009.
U.S. people of all ages who serve and volunteer will join members of the Congress for a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, March 18, at 10:30 am EST.
The House of Representatives will consider H.R. 1388, the GIVE Act, on the floor Wednesday, March 18th. You can watch the voting take place on C-SPAN.
The Congress members and volunteers will urge the House to pass the legislation that aims to “launch a new era of national service to help the nation get through the economic crisis.”
The bill will significantly expand national service (if enacted). Read more (PDF) about the bill. Follow the progress of the bill on Open Congress.
People to appear at the press conference include volunteers and national service participants; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer; U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman House Education and Labor Committee and co-sponsor of legislation; U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), cosponsor of legislation; U.S. Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV); and Capt. Scott Quilty, U.S. program manager, Survivor Corps.
The Senate is expected to consider similar legislation soon.