We were pleased to see President Obama once again mention the importance of both reading to children and volunteering in his address to Congress last night. He also reiterated his support for the Serve America Act legislation by Senators Orrin Hatch and Edward Kennedy. (Senator Kennedy himself has been involved with Everybody Wins for many years as a Power Lunch reading mentor, and his Everybody Wins service was prominently featured in the video tribute to him at last year's Democratic National Convention.) The Hatch/Kennedy bill will "ask 175,000 more Americans to give a year of service to address specific national challenges...and the legislation will also increase opportunities for individuals to serve at every stage of their life and will support nonprofit organizations and social entrepreneurs with innovative solutions to our most pressing problems."
Here is the excerpt from Obama's speech:
"I know that the price of tuition is higher than ever, which is why if you are willing to volunteer in your neighborhood or give back to your community or serve your country, we will make sure that you can afford a higher education. And to encourage a renewed spirit of national service for this and future generations, I ask this Congress to send me the bipartisan legislation that bears the name of Sen. Orrin Hatch as well as an American who has never stopped asking what he can do for his country -- Sen. Edward Kennedy. These education policies will open the doors of opportunity for our children. But it is up to us to ensure they walk through them.
In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a mother or father who will attend those parent-teacher conferences, or help with homework after dinner, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, and read to their child. I speak to you not just as a President, but as a father when I say that responsibility for our children's education must begin at home."
Please contact your Congressional representative and ask them to support the Serve America Act legislation. And of course, take some time to read to your children or volunteer to read to a child through an Everybody Wins Power Lunch program near you.