Michelle Obama Promotes Green Building, Community Service on National Mall

March 18, 2009

The First Lady went green on St. Patrick’s Day, and not just with her choice of footwear or her order to dye the White House fountain green. Joining the members of YouthBuild, a non-profit organization that teaches low-income youths construction skills while they work toward their GED or high school diploma, Michelle Obama helped build an affordable, energy efficient home for a Texas mother whose mobile home was damaged last year by Hurricane Dolly. YouthBuild is celebrating their 30th anniversary by inviting current students and graduates of the program to show off green building techniques of all types on the National Mall.

Mrs. Obama took the opportunity to speak on the importance of both community service and building green:

“The work you’ve done here is quite impressive, and the evolution of your work to include green building, something that we’re talking more and more about as a nation, energy-saving practices, and environmental awareness, it demonstrates how YouthBuild has endured as a leading non-profit organization, keeping up with the times, making sure that the training and education that you get is current.”

“However, for me, it’s your core principle that I am so impressed with, of providing opportunities for amazing young people — amazing young people — giving folks a second, and third, and fourth chance, particularly low-income youth. Sometimes we overlook them, we think that they can’t be, they can’t do. And it’s places like YouthBuild that help you to find yourselves and to be reborn in so many ways, and to help rebuild communities all across this country, but to also complete high school and to graduate, and to do some really special things.”

Mrs. Obama reminded those attending that it was work with programs like YouthBuild that started her husband down the road toward the Presidency. “Through this work he came to realize he wasn’t just helping other people. As you’ve learned, through service he found a community that embraced him — and I know you all understand that. You find people who love you and believe in you. That’s what he found.” To read her full remarks, click here.

YouthBuild, which is shifting its contruction focus toward green building, will receive $50 million from the American Recovery and Reconstruction Act. For more information on YouthBuild, click here.