CLINTON CALLS VOLUNTEERS TO A SUMMIT.
Mustering an elaborate display of bipartisan star power, President Clinton announced plans Friday for a summit on volunteerism ``to mobilize America's citizen power in a united effort to solve our common problems, especially those that threaten our young people.''
Flanked by former President Bush, the man he defeated to gain the White House, Clinton said: ``Citizen service belongs to no party, no ideology. It is an American idea which every American should embrace.''
Underscoring the theme of bipartisanship that Clinton has stressed in the early days of his second term, he was backed by former Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Colin Powell, who had flirted with a bid to run against Clinton.
The summit will be held April 27-29 for 2,000 representatives from 100 U.S. cities. They will gather in Philadelphia to ``re-energize ideals that were born in that city more than two centuries ago,'' said Vice President Al Gore.
The call for the summit demonstrates Clinton's acknowledgment that private efforts are needed in a time of tight government resources.
What will distinguish the event from a three-day seminar is the effort to obtain strict commitments from major corporations and nonprofit organizations to provide goods and services to needy communities and to expand various philanthropic endeavors.
Among the commitments already obtained are:
Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America, headquartered in Philadelphia, has committed to double its mentoring relationships, reaching 200,000 matches by 2001.
LensCrafters will provide 1 million needy people, especially children, with vision care by 2003.
Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. has committed to immunize 1 million children by 2003.
The Greek Orthodox Church in America has pledged to assist one needy child per every 10 families in more than 550 Greek Orthodox churches nationwide.
The NFL Players Association is launching a mentoring program for American Indian teen-agers in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Center for Indian Youth.
Planning for the first Presidents' Summit for America's Future lies at the intersection of various interests.
The White House wanted a vehicle to carry Clinton's inaugural rhetoric about a ``new spirit of bipartisanship.'' Former Sen. Harris Wofford, who has been fighting to retain funding for the Clinton administration's AmeriCorps community-service program, wanted to promote volunteerism. The Points of Light Foundation - a community service group that takes its name from Bush's famous call for ``a thousand points of light'' - wanted to expand efforts begun in the Bush administration.
Clinton, paying particular tribute to the Points of Light Foundation, said he shared Bush's desire that ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things ``grow by the power of their example into millions of points of light.''
Each successive speaker struck the drum of bipartisanship and common purpose during the elaborate East Room ceremony.
Photo: (color) Presidents Bush and Clinton join forces to push volunteerism.