This week, the nation came together to celebrate the life of George H. W. Bush. He served his country as a Navy pilot, a diplomat, vice president and president in his long and distinguished career. But did you know he was also a fan of community engagement?

When Bush accepted his party’s nomination for president in 1988, he talked about “the idea of community – a beautiful word with a big meaning.” He emphasized the role our neighborhoods, clubs and charitable organizations play in bringing Americans together to do good for others.

Bush described our community groups as “a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.” Those words set a theme for Bush’s presidency as he focused attention on volunteerism in America. His administration gave awards to volunteers all over the country for identifying needs and creating solutions to make their communities stronger.

Bush called the American spirit the “greatest natural resource” our country has. If you look at the American spirit of volunteering, you’ll see that he was right.

In 2015, 25 percent of Americans gave a part of their time to volunteering. That’s 62.6 million people who volunteered for 7.9 billion hours, totaling $184 billion worth of service! Couple that with Americans willing to donate to charities and causes and you have a powerful force of people dedicated to making the world a better place.

We’ve always been a nation of problem solvers. We create groups and charities designed to give others a sense of belonging, acceptance and support, and to help those who are in need. President Bush knew that no government program could take the place of dedicated Americans ready to help each other rise above challenges. His legacy of service to the nation and to others should inspire us all to get out into our communities and help each other.

Read more about groups that join together to help their communities!