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Tufts E-News: Will Bush's Plan Work

Tufts E-News: Will Bush's Plan WorkTufts Expert, Former Points Of Light Foundation Director Says Proposal May Damage Faith Organizations, Government. Cleveland, Ohio.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.09.01] Brian O'Connell, the former director of the Points Of Light Foundation, has already advised three Presidents -- Reagan, Bush and Clinton -- on volunteerism. And now the Tufts professor and trustee emeritus is informally offering his insights to the newest President.

In an effort to jumpstart volunteerism around the nation, George W. Bush recently introduced his plan to assist faith-based volunteerism using tax dollars. But the plan probably won't work, says O'Connell, author of "Civil Society."

"If we thrust upon them the major public social services, not only will they fail, but also we will make them into service-providing institutions when their largest value to society has been advocacy and the empowering of individuals," O'Connell told Cleveland's Plain Dealer.

In a talk to Cleveland's volunteer and community groups, O'Connell called on public schools to teach the differences between civic duty and volunteerism.

"O'Connell said that while 50 percent of all Americans are involved in volunteer activities, only 35 percent of registered voters cast ballots," reported the Plain Dealer. "He said schools may need to reintroduce 'civics' classes so that students understand that volunteerism does not replace involvement in government."

Despite the need for continued improvement, the Tufts professor said that the status of volunteerism in today's society represents significant progress.

"Actually, the past is not nearly as good as remembered, and the present is far better than perceived," O'Connell said.

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