The Volunteer First Lady

February 1, 1989

The Washington Post
By Donnie Radcliffe

Barbara Bush went looking for some of those "thousand points of light" her husband has been talking about, and found them yesterday working in a run-down' building on 14th Street NW where a sign outside reads "Martha's Table" and one inside reads:

"Love is a basket with five loaves and two fishes. It's never enough til you give it away.

It was her first visit to a soup kitchen since her husband became piesident, but she made it ciear thal it won't be her last.

"Anybody who needs help and I can help,then I'11 try to help," she said of her effort to call attention to the hungry as she stood making salami and cheese sandwiches with a half dozen volunteers.

Martha's Table, a non-profit group founded about 8 uears ago, operates a children's center and prepares food for the homeless to be dispensed by McKenna's Wagon, the mobile soup kitchen whose daiiy rounds on Washington streets include one stop across from the White House.

Yesterday's outing launched what Mrs. Bush's staff says will be a continuing campaign to highlight community efforts to solve some of the nation's more pressing social problems. Sbe said she won't focus only on the homeless and needy, though.

"No more than on people who can't read," she told reporters, packed five deep inside the facility. For years her chief cause has been stamping out illiteracy.

She said she hoped the public will realiie that the more volunteers there are to help solve such problems " the better off we'll be."

I'm hoping Americans will look at the range of volunteers and see how imporant they are," she said, an obvious reference to her companions, who were Sister Carmelita Roche, Grace Hart, Paula Tiedemann, Iris Francois and two youths, Justin Parke and Peter Wallace, both 13.

"You can forget the government cutbacks," she said when asked about them, dismissing any further discussion.

After the sandwich line, she took some cookies she had brought from the White House kitchen and dropped in on the children's center...

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