Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Walnut Hills student meets president

By Jennifer Mrozowski jmrozowski@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        President Bush offered his congratulations Monday night to Sarah Hope Reilly. In return, she offered her prayers.

President Bush talks with Walnut Hills High School senior Sarah Hope Reilly on the airport tarmac.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        Minutes before he gave a speech at Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, where he warned Iraq to disarm or face a U.S.-led coalition, President Bush met briefly with the 17-year-old Walnut Hills High School senior on the tarmac of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

        Sarah, who volunteers through her school and at a Camp Washington church, was chosen by an AmeriCorps official to greet the president. AmeriCorps is a national service program that helps people pay for education in exchange for committing a year to volunteer work.

        After the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Mr. Bush issued a national call, urging citizens to devote time to volunteering. Sarah heeded the call, earning her a moment with the president.

        “I looked up and saw him walk out of the plane and thought, "Wow, that's the president and I'm going to get to meet him,' ” Sarah said. “I thanked him for supporting volunteerism, and I told him I'd pray for him to make the right decisions.”

        Sarah is one of about 18 volunteers who tutor neighborhood students one day a week at Washington United Church of Christ in Camp Washington. Lyne Willis, an AmeriCorps volunteer and coordinator of the Homework Club, nominated the teen to greet the president because of her dedication.

        “She is wonderful,” Ms. Willis said. “She's just very dependable and committed to improving communities, to investing in children and to volunteering in general.”

        Before the president landed, Sarah said she was excited about the opportunity to meet the him because she's never met anyone “even remotely famous.”

        But the student, who has been volunteering since she was about 6 years old, also hopes the meeting highlights the value of volunteering.

        “Most people think they can't fit it in their schedules,” she said.

        “I don't think people understand they can give an hour or so of their time a week and it just really helps out. I would definitely encourage everyone to volunteer.”


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