THE ELECTION of Edwin D. Etherington to the presidency of the National Center for Voluntary Action assures vigorous leadership for a vital endeavor. He brings to his new responsibility an admirable blend of energy, experience, and sensitivity, especially to the concerns of our young and disadvantaged.
In 1968 1 pledged that in this Administration there would be "a new measure of reliance on voluntary efforts, and a new level of official public recognition of their immense contribution to the betterment of life in America."
In November 1969, after consulting with the Cabinet and seeking the advice of citizens representing some 250 voluntary organizations, I announced the formation of the National Center for Voluntary Action as part of the broader national program.
The National Center was conceived as a private, nonprofit, nonpolitical organization to work in a "creative partnership" with both the Federal Government and private volunteer agencies in encouraging a resurgence of voluntarism in America. Its efforts were to complement those programs already sponsored by the Federal Government such as the Peace Corps and VISTA.
Today, with Henry Ford II acting as chairman and 120 volunteers from all walks of life serving on its board, the National Center for Voluntary Action has become an active force in stimulating new volunteer programs across the country. The Center's clearinghouse, sorely needed for many years, has now gathered 4,000 descriptions of actual volunteer efforts so that other communities, groups, or individuals can find out what has been tried and what solutions have been discovered by volunteers in the past. A national volunteer awards program has also been established to recognize outstanding individuals, and a large-scale communications program is underway.
I know that since the resignation of Charles B. Wilkinson on September 1, 1970, the Center has conducted a long and careful search for its new president. I congratulate the Center on its selection of Mr. Etherington, and I con. gratulate Mr. Etherington on his selection. He can count on the enthusiastic cooperation of this Administration and on my own deep and continuing personal interest.