Obama to Bush 41: We are a 'gentler nation' because of you
Couple receives 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award
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.
Copyright 2013 by CNN NewSource. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.