Remarks to Big Brothers Big Sisters Reception

*** As Prepared for Delivery ***

Thank you Lynne, and thank you, Karen for this lovely recognition. I am so proud to be a supporter of the wonderful difference that Big Brothers Big Sisters makes in the lives of children.

I need tell no one here the great benefits that Big Brothers Big Sisters brings to adults and children alike across America. This is, after all, a reception for alumni. But I think it's safe to say that Littles who have Bigs in their lives are more likely to be able to tackle a job like Capitol Hill staffer or Member of Congress when they grow up. I don't know if being a Big gives you insight into the troubles our children face, or if having that insight and willingness to help draws adults to be Bigs. Probably a little of both. But having insight and willingness to help is certainly a plus for those of us who serve America here in Washington, D.C.

Those qualities are also evident among those who serve in more out of the way places. I would like to point out Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska CEO, Taber Rehbaum. She is here from Fairbanks, Alaska this evening.

Taber matches Bigs with Littles across Alaska, a state that is just about as large as all of the Lower 48 states combined. She helps make sure kids have mentors in large towns like Fairbanks and Anchorage, in small towns above the Arctic Circle like Bethel, and in little fishing villages in Southeast Alaska like Yakutat.

It is a pleasure to acknowledge her commitment to Alaska's Littles, and her passion for making sure that our children receive the support and encouragement they need to succeed from their Bigs.

But Taber will tell you, there is always more to do. Taber's new challenge is to expand Big Brothers Big Sisters into the tiny villages across Interior Alaska. These are places you cannot drive to because there are no roads, where temperatures can get down to 60 below or more, and where hopelessness and suicide are all too common. I am privileged to be able to help Taber with her effort.

Our children must not feel that they are alone. They must not feel that no one in the world cares about them. They must not feel invisible, or that they don't matter. Thanks to people like Taber, we're making progress toward ensuring that every Little who needs one gets a Big.

Again, thank you for everything you do and have done, and for this kind acknowledgement of my support.