Governor Gregoire addresses the Junior League of Seattle

March 1, 2008

*As Written*

Good evening, and thank you Heather for the kind introduction.

I am pleased to be here tonight among so many people with whom I share the same values – we want every Washington child to grow up with the opportunity to be successful, first in school and then in a career.

Unfortunately, not all of our children are born into a situation that affords them such an opportunity. It is our responsibility as a community to aid those who need help.

This is where the Junior League of Seattle steps in. Your many programs help develop and deploy volunteers into the community to provide the assistance our children, and especially our girls and young women, need to become successful.

Among your many outstanding programs, there are a couple that especially caught my eye. Your Lifebooks program that you conduct in partnership with our state’s Department of Social and Health Services is a wonderful service for our state’s foster children. The program helps create unique scrapbooks for and about foster care children, detailing and memorializing their unique backgrounds prior to being adopted into a new family.

I also applaud your Healthy Futures Art Project, which helps kids with special needs express themselves through art, build self-esteem, and develop healthy relationships with adults.

These two projects exemplify the outstanding work done by the Junior League. You find ways to get volunteers involved where their time can make the most difference.

The importance of volunteering is something my husband Mike and I have always recognized. In fact, Mike wanted to join the ranks of VISTA volunteers after college, but the US Army made him an offer he couldn’t refuse!

Among all states, Washington has the third-highest number of volunteer service hours per capita, the fourth highest volunteer rate for young adults, and the seventh-highest volunteer rate for older adults in the nation.

The benefits of volunteering are enormous for individuals, communities and our society as a whole.

We've all heard about the "loss of community values" and "family values". Those values are ingrained in each of us through our individual and collective service to our communities.

Our very democracy depends on an engaged citizenry—on people like you. It’s simply not enough to pay taxes and vote. Now more than ever, we need their most precious commodity—their time.

It’s not just communities that benefits – the individual volunteer benefits as well. One of the healthiest choices one can make is to volunteer. Research demonstrates that volunteers feel healthier, they actually are healthier with increased energy, lower blood pressure, less depression and better eating and sleeping habits.

Volunteerism is something we must continue to foster among our citizens.

It’s important that volunteerism and civic engagement start with early education that extends from the classroom to the community.

Another area of growth lies in capturing the experience and energy of the 77 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964—the baby boomers. Over 79,000 people will turn 60 this year. National studies show that more than half the people this age want to be involved in activities that directly improve the quality of life in their communities. Civic engagement among boomers—a highly educated, skilled, and talented generation – will be critical to solving the social problems facing our nation.

Thank you for everything you do to make life better for all Washingtonians. Your dedication to helping others is a shining example for everyone in our state to follow. Congratulations!