Good morning everyone. Thank you for that warm welcome.
Ms. Tillery, what a lovely rendition of our National Anthem. Thank you.
Reverend Johnson-Abercrombie, thank you for that moving invocation. As always, you inspire us.
Congratulations—and many thanks—to all our CFC leaders, loaned executives, managers, and contributors. This is your time to shine and take a well-deserved bow. Well done!
I wish I had a broom with me—it’s a Navy tradition to fly a broom from the yardarm of a returning ship to signify a “clean sweep” at a gunnery range—hitting every target. This morning, there is every reason to fly a broom on the yardarm of VA for the Combined Federal Campaign, because we made a clean sweep of our goal—and exceeded it by a pretty impressive margin. Everyone in this room this morning … and more than twenty-two hundred of your National Capital colleagues … helped blow right through our CFC target of $800,000 on the way to an incredible $991,085! That is a 123% mission success rate! Outstanding!
John, your crew performed admirably; your positive, “we-can-do-it,” leadership inspired their commitment to make it happen, and Secretary Shinseki and I are very proud and appreciative of your achievement.
I’m not surprised that we did so well in exceeding a goal based on selfless service. One of the most affirming things about working at VA is in knowing that our mission is always about service to others—to our Veterans and their families, certainly, but also to our communities and our country. That is in keeping with the CFC theme, “The Compassion of Individuals, the Power of Community.”
One third of VA’s workforce has already served in the military…defending our country and protecting freedom-loving people around the world. For many of our VA Veterans, their service took them in harm’s way, and, though they might bear the wounds of their duty, they returned, to work here at VA, where they continue to give back to their fellow Veterans, their communities, and their country.
I know our Washington area employees give their time, talents, and hearts to so many causes—some small and some large; but all of them are important to those on the receiving end of your compassion. You volunteer in VA medical centers and clinics; in neighborhood food banks; in local schools and churches; and for many other charitable organizations. You reach out to those whose needs can best be met with compassion and selflessness.
Through VA’s CFC contributions, you do even more; you help fight homelessness—one of Secretary Shinseki’s highest priorities; your thoughtfulness underwrites funds for cancer and Alzheimer’s research; you provide earthquake relief; you resupply food kitchens; you open the doors to safe-houses for battered women and their children; you unlock the cages of animal shelters … and you benefit a thousand other worthy organizations—all of them grateful for your gifts.
The great mathematician Archimedes once wrote, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” The Combined Federal Campaign, with all its reach, is the lever; VA headquarters, solid and strong, is the fulcrum; and the power of your compassion, enduring and unshakable, is the force that is moving the world for your chosen charities.
I cannot overstate the value of your giving, the depth of your compassion, the foundation of your commitment to those in need. Your contributions to the CFC reaffirm the words of Booker T. Washington, who said, “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”
By your selfless giving—even in hard times, perhaps when your own personal priorities were being tested as never before—you elevated the state of humanity; you illuminated with your charity the darkness of doubt that surrounded those for whom hope was a fading ember. That is what CFC is—that is who you are: the bright spark of giving that reignites the beacon of hope, individual by individual, community by community. I know we will never let that light dim for those in need. When we begin the next campaign this fall, we will set a new goal, turn up the light a few notches … and, I am certain, we will, once again, move the world.
Congratulations for a very successful campaign, and for giving so much from your hearts.