the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the First Lady at Congressional Service Event

Marie Reed Community Learning Center
Washington, D.C.

2:55 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Look, there’s not much more I need to say.  Rachel, Dayo both did just an outstanding job in laying out the organizations that are working with us today, the schools.  These are valuable initiatives.  We’ve already done a great job highlighting them, but it’s just wonderful to have the opportunity to get my colleagues, my friends, my peers at the Congressional Club, the spouses, here seeing what’s going on, being able to bring the press and the media to highlight the good work that's being done.  So I want to thank you all for the work that you did to pull this together in a fairly short period of time. 

We have a relationship, but creating a mural and organizing a group of well-intentioned but not necessarily artistic people -- (laughter) -- to do -- to entrust us with your walls is -- it’s a huge risk to take.  And we’re honored to be a part of it.

I want to thank Rachel and Rocco for their leadership, their commitment.  They’ve been -- both been true assets to this nation and to the White House.  They’ve provided us with the backbone we need to open up the White House to make it a place for all folks to celebrate culture and arts and all forms of important expression.  We have a lot more to do, but you all have been just terrific.

So Lynsey and Ed, you guys are doing some phenomenal work.  It was wonderful to have you at the White House for the Coming Up Taller Awards, and all my kids who were there, as well.  It’s good for me to get out here and see what you’re doing.

But we’re very excited to be here.  We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my folks -- my fellow folks at the Congressional Club, all the spouses.  We had an opportunity to spend a wonderful lunch yesterday.  It was just a truly special afternoon and it’s so good that everyone has made a commitment to step out of our tea dresses and away from the crystal and to roll up our sleeves and be ready to paint and to get a little dirty.

It’s important, so important, not just to me but to the community to have us out here; for our kids to see that we not only care about them, which we do -- we are so proud of you all and we want the world to see you all and understand your potential, to see grade point averages go from 2.0 to 3-point-who-knows-what.  We are so proud and we want to keep lifting you up and showing other kids that these opportunities are available.

But you all also do us a big favor, too.  You give us a real good excuse to get out in beautiful weather, to kind of be silly with you all, and we get to know one another a lot better through these projects and these initiatives. 

All of the congressional spouses are committed in some way to service.  Many of them are doing something important in some way, shape or form in their own states, in their own districts.  The fact that they’re willing to take even more time out to come to the District and to learn more about what’s going on and to roll up their sleeves is just a testament to their courage, to their commitment and to their belief in you all, these community organizations and schools and students, and a belief in the, you know, just the beauty of this country and all that we have to offer.

These walls were blank.  I saw the pictures.  You all have been working really hard.  It looks beautiful.  And I think the end result is that every wall, I understand, including the retaining walls, are going to be just full of color. 

And this project is not only important for the school, but it’s also important for the community, and so many of these organizations have worked to beautify this area; to be a part of the reinvigoration of a neighborhood that needs the support of us all.  And this is just another project that's going to add a little brightness to a community that is growing and developing every single day.

So thank you all for taking the time.  I’m ready to get my paintbrush and get started.  And I'll make sure I get around to everybody to say hello before I go, but I got to work first.  (Laughter.)  So thank you all.  Thanks again.  (Applause.)

3:00 P.M. EDT