Volunteer Spirit to Get Spark from Top: First Families Lead Three-Day Summit

By Wetzstein, Cheryl | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 25, 1997 | Go to article overview

Volunteer Spirit to Get Spark from Top: First Families Lead Three-Day Summit


Wetzstein, Cheryl, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Under a banner calling for Americans to mentor, nurture, protect, teach and serve one another, the Presidents' Summit for America's Future is set to convene Sunday.

The first order of business: Sweep the streets in the host "city of brotherly love," Philadelphia.

Leading the sweep in some capacity - details are being worked out - will be President Clinton, who, with former President George Bush, announced in January the call for a new commitment to volunteerism, especially to help America's 15 million at-risk youths.

The three-day event is headlined by retired Gen. Colin Powell; former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry G. Cisneros; first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton; Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper; former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn; former President Gerald Ford; former first ladies Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush; and Lynda B. Robb, daughter of President Lyndon Johnson.

The summit will feature Oprah Winfrey and a bevy of entertainers, including John Travolta, Jimmy Smits, Michael Bolton, Tony Bennett, the Oak Ridge Boys, Patti LaBelle, Brooke Shields, Wynton Marsalis and Sinbad.

The foremost "points of light," however, will be the 3,500 representatives of volunteer groups, nonprofit groups, religious groups, local governments and companies who will pledge millions of hours and millions of dollars to a broad range of worthwhile projects.

"There have been periodic commitments to renew civic activity," said David Crosson, a spokesman for the summit.

But this event is unprecedented in its support from the nation's current and former presidents and its focus on at-risk youths, he said.

The idea for the summit is credited to former Michigan Gov. George Romney, who died in 1995 three days after Points of Light Foundation President Bob Goodwin and Corporation for National Service chief Harris Wofford promised him a summit would take place.

"Much of the work of America cannot be done by government; much other work cannot be done by government alone," Mr. Clinton said in January. "The solution must be the American people through voluntary service to others."

"The Philadelphia summit is about getting more people off the sidelines," Mr. Bush said. "It is about citizens pulling together, leading by example and lifting lives. …

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