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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Remarks by Secretary Eric K. Shinseki

2011 Combined Federal Campaign Recognition Ceremony
Washington, DC
May 7, 2012

Good morning, everyone. Let me thank both Celeste Tillery for gracing us with the national anthem and the Reverend Perdita Johnson-Abercrombie for invoking today's blessing.

General Counsel Will Gunn , thanks to you and your team, we have achieved an admirable outcome to our 2011 CFC campaign.

CFC Chair Steve Redmon, Campaign Managers John Lawson And Ann-Marie Duncan, Coordinator Trish Jackson—in fact, let me invite every member of the CFC committee and its support staff to stand or raise a hand so we can say thank you properly.

Let me further acknowledge our special guest, Jim Lazar, Executive Director of the CFC National Capitol Area; Undersecretary Steve Muro, Inspector General George Opfer, other VA leaders and colleagues, Veterans, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

My role here today is pretty simple. I'm here to say thank you to all of you and VA for its generosity in setting a new donation record, and to congratulate those who made our 2011 Combined Federal Campaign such a resounding success.

Half a century ago, President John F. Kennedy issued an executive order authorizing a combined campaign to solicit charitable contributions from federal employees. Piloted initially, in 1964, in just six cities, the first "Combined Federal Campaign" was a huge success, and when payroll deductions were added in 1971, giving rose from just under $13 million in 1964, to nearly $83 million in 1979.

Today, CFC continues to be the largest and most successful workplace fundraising model in the entire world, raising almost $300 million for some 25,000 charities each year. In the 2011 CFC campaign, VACO alone contributed over $979,000. Our goal was $850,000, and we surpassed that by 15%.

I am very proud of VA's performance and the leadership of Will Gunn and Steve Redmon, and the diligence of VA's CFC committee, support staff, and contact people in each office.

We know that these are difficult times for people financially. Every dollar contributed came from a family's rainy day plan. These results roar about the depth of our caring for those less fortunate in our communities.

The American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote: "The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service." [Kavanagh, 1849] He reminds that we are not remembered for what we intended with our lives, but for the differences we made in the lives of others. It extends those simple lessons about doing unto others — and of being our brethren's keepers. And at the heart of it all, charity reigns.

I am privileged to be serving in a department where the conscience is so big and the heart is even bigger still. I'm proud of each one of you for finding a way to serve those who are challenged in our community and our Nation. I'm also greatly honored to have this opportunity to recognize each and every member of the campaign committee, the support staff, and each office contact. God bless you all for your hard work and generosity.

Thank you.