September 11, 2008
Contact:
Anna Christopher, NPR


   

FIRST LADY LAURA BUSH DISCUSSES
IMPORTANCE OF NATIONAL SERVICE,
RETURNING TO “NORMAL LIFE” AFTER THE WHITE HOUSE
ON NPR NEWS ALL THINGS CONSIDERED
TODAY, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11

COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT BELOW;
AUDIO AVAILABLE AT 7PM (ET) AT NPR.org




September 11, 2008; Washington, D.C. – First Lady Laura Bush, who is participating in tomorrow’s Service Nation Summit in New York City, tells NPR’s Robert Siegel that national service “doesn’t have to be a government-sponsored service. And part of the most successful programs that the president has sponsored are the faith-based and community-based service programs, where government partners with people who are already in the field doing great work.” The complete interview with Mrs. Bush is airing tonight on All Things Considered.

In the interview, Mrs. Bush also discusses her thoughts about making a difference at the community level, pointing to a Chicago doctor who set up a program to work with gang members:

MRS. BUSH: Ceasefire Chicago, the group that you’re talking about, is a program started by a man who happens to be a doctor. He’s a public-health doctor. And the more he thought about violence in communities, the more he realized that that’s a public-health problem, and that it needs to be addressed just like any other public health disease.

MR. SIEGEL: But is he working with people who could qualify as being called community organizers?

MRS. BUSH: I don’t know if that’s exactly what you would call them. I don’t know exactly what that is. But I will say he gives former gang members jobs to try to intervene to prevent young people from ruining the rest of their lives because some reason that they’d get into a fight and then end up incarcerated.

When asked about moving out of the White House after eight years, Mrs. Bush says: “…We’ll be back to normal life, which I do look forward to in some ways. Certainly it will be hard to leave this beautiful house and all of the people that we’ve come to know and love so much that work here and work here for every president. A lot of them have worked here for five or six presidents already.”

A complete transcript is below. All excerpts must be credited to NPR News All Things Considered. Television usage must include on-screen credit with NPR logo. The audio of the interview will be made available at www.NPR.org at approximately 7:00 p.m. ET. All Things Considered, NPR's signature afternoon news magazine, is hosted by Melissa Block, Michele Norris, and Robert Siegel and reaches 11.5 million listeners weekly. To find local stations and broadcast times, visit www.NPR.org.



-NPR-




ROBERT SIEGEL: First Lady Laura Bush also attended the dedication of the Pentagon memorial. Shortly afterwards, she sat down with me in the Red Room of the White House to talk about national service. After 9/11, large numbers of Americans came together to help out, as Mrs. Bush noted. And volunteerism has been an important refrain for the Bush administration. Tomorrow, Laura Bush is scheduled to participate in the Service Nation Summit in New York City. It's a non-partisan event, built around what it calls "a bold policy blueprint,” to expand opportunities for Americans to volunteers. I asked Mrs. Bush about the goals of the summit.

FIRST LADY LAURA BUSH: We hope what will come is that people will realize all of the different ways they can serve. And there are so many ways people can serve. A lot of people in the United States serve through their faith congregation, they serve in the United States, they serve abroad. Many, many people volunteer in American public schools. And – there are some new ways to volunteer. One is called pro-bono volunteers. It’s a way for businesses to provide pro-bono help to NGOs that might need administrative help, or accounting help, or to provide it to developing countries.

MR. SIEGEL: Richard Stengel, the editor of Time, which is one of the sponsors of the Summit on Service in New York and who devote, wrote a cover story about service for Time last year proposed, among other things, having a Cabinet secretary, a national secretary of national service and tripling the size of, say, Americorps. Do those sound like good ideas to you?

MRS. BUSH: Well, sure. One of the things President Bush started was a commission on service that actually worked – they’re the ones who started the pro-bono service, But I also think that, you know, we need to – it doesn’t have to be a government-sponsored service. And part of the most successful programs that the president has sponsored are the faith-based and community-based service programs, where government partners with people who are already in the field doing great work and many times work that governments can’t do. For instance, counseling with alcoholics or working with children of prisoners.

MR. SIEGEL: You spoke glowingly the other day of a project in Chicago where people work with former gang members to try to prevent violence. And it reminded me of – well, I’ll say, a cynical comment that a colleague of mine made. Which was, after the convention last week in St. Paul that you attended and that I covered, would somebody who heard the mocking references to community organizers that were made there think that those people are actually serious about encouraging young people to go in and work with gang members in poor Chicago neighborhoods, or is that just something you do when you’re going to church?

MRS. BUSH: Well, this is a really – Ceasefire Chicago, the group that you’re talking about, is a program started by a man who happens to be a doctor. He’s a public-health doctor. And the more he thought about violence in communities, the more he realized that that’s a public-health problem, and that it needs to be addressed just like any other public health disease.

MR. SIEGEL: But is he working with people who could qualify as being called community organizers?

MRS. BUSH: I don’t know if that’s exactly what you would call them. I don’t know exactly what that is. But I will say he gives former gang members jobs to try to intervene to prevent young people from ruining the rest of their lives because some reason that they’d get into a fight and then end up incarcerated.

MR. SIEGEL: One of the most interesting dimensions of national service today is that it’s not just about young people, but there’s a generation, a large generation retiring right now. It’s our generation. It’s the baby-boom generation that’s coming out. And people are interested in what folks in their 60s are going to be doing in their spare time.

MRS. BUSH: Well, there are a lot of great programs already started to address this idea of retirement for older people. And I’m actually looking forward to being able to volunteer a lot when I retire. But there are some great ones: Education Service is the name of one that places older Americans in schools, working with struggling readers, and they have great results.

MR. SIEGEL: Now, apart from looking forward to being able to do some volunteer work in Texas, we’re sitting in the Red Room at the White House. This building has been your home –

MRS. BUSH: That’s right.

MR. SIEGEL: – for going on eight years right now. And I can’t imagine any move out of a house that would be a more dramatic change in one’s life than leaving the White House.

MRS. BUSH: Leaving the White House, absolutely. There’s no doubt about that. But we’ll be back to normal life, which I do look forward to in some ways. Certainly it will be hard to leave this beautiful house and all of the people that we’ve come to know and love so much that work here and work here for every president. A lot of them have worked here for five or six presidents already.

MR. SIEGEL: Normal life – I’m just trying to have a mental checklist of normal life here. You will drive again, for example?

MRS. BUSH: Normal life will be cooking, shopping, actually going to the grocery store, those sort of things.

MR. SIEGEL: There’ll be somebody following taking your picture every hour during that time or –

MRS. BUSH: I doubt it. I think I’m going to get to have a sort of normal life.

MR. SIEGEL: Well, I hope you enjoy – good luck and thank you very much for talking with us.

MRS. BUSH: Thanks a lot. Thank you.

(END)