Public Papers

Remarks to the Points of Light Foundation


I know you've had a full day, but let me belatedly give you a very warm welcome to the White House and say that it's a pleasure to come over here to join this briefing of the Points of Light Foundation. I'm pleased to serve as honorary chairman. And of course, the directors, many here today -- and I am indebted to each and every one of you who are taking these leadership roles.

Let me just begin by a few words of thanks and praise. Those gathered here today and the many other media executives all across the country whom you represent have done so much for so many years to shine the bright floodlight of recognition on those in our communities reaching out to help those in need. And if, as they say, a nation is what it honors, in many places in America you've helped make us understand that our nation is one that admires those who serve the needs of others.

By recognizing and honoring these otherwise unsung heroes and heroines who each day in a quiet and selfless way confront drug abuse and illiteracy, hunger, and homelessness, and do what they can to defeat them, you are showing all of America that every social problem is being solved somewhere and that every one of us can play a role in solving the problems. Everyone can be a Point of Light.

The Points of Light that I understand you have heard from today are part of real and gripping stories in America that really are making life better. They're taking on difficult problems and conquering them. And I'm even more convinced today than I have ever been that Points of Light are a critical answer to America's social problems. This approach isn't a dodge for responsibility of any level of government. It's something much, much, more fundamental, it seems to me, than any level of government.

With the new surge of patriotism and the resurgence of national pride that has just captivated America, and then our age-old ``can do'' spirit, it seems to me that the country is ready as never before in recent memory to rise to the challenge of meeting the needs of those around us here at home. And this is where you all come in. Now is the time to carry this Points of Light message into every home in America and to persuade every American that any definition of a successful life must include serving others.

Far more than any one speech or brochure, the media can educate and persuade and inspire. And your antidrug campaign, for example, is changing a whole generation's attitudes about drugs. We've got a long way to go, but the change is there. And I think it's exciting, and I hope it's contagious.

The Saatchi and Saatchi PSA's that you've seen, that Barbara and I looked at last night, I'm convinced begin to move the whole Nation to find in serving others the meaning and fulfillment in life that all of us are seeking. I want to thank the Saatchi team that I met with earlier, thank the Advertising Council for many long hours of dedication and devotion to producing some of the finest ads and some of the most moving ads that I believe I've ever seen.

By changing attitudes about the appeal of service and showing examples of small ways in which each of us can make a big difference, these ads can help. They can help achieve our shared mission for the Nation: to make direct and consequential community service directed at serious social problems central to the life and work of every American.

And so, I'm asking you to find ways to give these messages the prominence they deserve. And in addition, because you are each a vital link to and among the citizens within your communities, I hope you'll redouble your efforts to find and celebrate the Points of Light where you are. With your help, every American can be called to do something good and feel something real.

Thank you for coming to the White House, for all the good you've already done, and for the good work I know you'll do in the days ahead. I am totally committed to this concept and I want to assure Ray Chambers, Dick Munro, everybody -- Gregg -- that I will do my level best to help in every way possible.

Thank you all very, very much for being with us today. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 3:54 p.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building. In his remarks, he referred to Raymond G. Chambers and J. Richard Munro, cochairmen of the Points of Light Foundation, and C. Gregg Petersmeyer, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of National Service. He also referred to public service announcements produced by Saatchi and Saatchi, a New York advertising firm.