[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1997, Book I)]
[March 3, 1997]
[Pages 228-229]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at the Unveiling Ceremony for the Coalition for America's 
Children Public Service Announcement
March 3, 1997

    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 
    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 Presidents' 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

[[Page 229]]

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 voluntarism.
    The public service announcement, as you saw, gives people a number 
to call, a website 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 website 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 theaters 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.

Note: The President spoke at 12:17 p.m. in the East Room at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to Alex Kroll, chairman, Advertising 
Council; Christine Benero, chair, Coalition for America's Children; 
Lonzo Warren, a 15-year-old high school student from Hyattsville, MD, 
and his mentor, Bradley R. Pine; and Gen. Colin L. Powell, USA (ret.), 
former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.