published Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Chelsea Clinton in Atlanta: More community service needed

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    Chelsea Clinton speaks at the opening plenary session for the "Service Unites" conference sponsored by the Points of Light Foundation on Monday in Atlanta. Clinton called for more opportunities to engage millennials in community service during her speech.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ATLANTA — Chelsea Clinton, who has played an increasingly prominent role in her family’s foundation, used a speech Monday to call for more community service opportunities for a younger generation and said she supports efforts that would allow more college graduates to reduce their student loan debt through volunteering.

Clinton, 34, who serves as vice chairwoman of the Clinton Foundation, spoke to about 5,000 people gathered for the “Service Unites” conference sponsored by the Points of Light Foundation and also participated in a panel discussion on inspiring young people to become more involved.

“It is in all of our interests to ensure that every young person in America who wants to serve is given the opportunity to serve,” said Clinton, who is expecting her first baby in the fall with her husband, Marc Mezvinsky.

Clinton said it was important for young people to expand their view of service and for federal, state and local governments to do everything they can to expand volunteer opportunities rather than let them contract or stagnate.

“We often do think of service as only the ways in which the mayor is serving, in which my parents have served. Maybe we think of military service. But service clearly has an almost limitless definition determined by how each individual can make a difference in their community,” Clinton said.

While she spoke of her parents’ service, she mentioned nothing about her mother, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and her possible run for president.

She did take a moment to honor 41st President George H. W. Bush, who started the Points of Light Foundation, which has grown to one of the largest volunteering and service organizations.

“I have long been an admirer of President Bush partly because he, like my father, didn’t rest on his laurels after he left the White House. He very much believed that he still had something to contribute to our country,” Clinton said.

She also spoke on the growing crisis of student loan debt, praising President Barack Obama for a plan that offers student loan forgiveness for those working in public schools and said there should be a broader conversation about expanding that to other service opportunities.

She added volunteering could also be a way to reduce unemployment among recent college graduates, noting companies are seeing the value of service on a resume.

“They know that says the applicant is likely to be resilient, to be a leader, to have good team-working skills, all fundamentals to success in many different corporate environments,” Clinton said.

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