March 28, 1988

I am pleased and proud to greet and congratulate everyone celebrating this week in tribute to America's volunteers.

Voluntarism is rooted in the world's religions and cultures, and just as those religions and cultures have found haven in America so has the spirit of neighborly compassion that Emerson envisioned when he wrote, "The only gift is a portion of thyself.'' Throughout our history Americans have reached out in service to others, near and far, and thereby strengthened their communities, our country, and the entire world. From the smallest act of kindness to the dedication of a lifetime, volunteers respond in times of joy and tragedy alike. From the smallest child to the most venerable senior citizen, more than half of all Americans give of their time and energy in private sector initiatives -- for each other.

Voluntarism's essence is the willingness to share blessings and the courage to pursue an ideal. Voluntarism's currency is love, and volunteers measure their riches in terms of what they freely give their countrymen and the people of the world. National Volunteer Week is a time to recognize America's volunteers and to challenge ourselves to add powerful new chapters to the story of this cherished national tradition

My heartfelt thanks, and Nancy's, to America's volunteers. You truly give the world a lift. God bless you, and God bless America.

Ronald Reagan