Make a Difference
He's still a major political figure, but does he ever miss the White House? "Yes and no. I was so thrilled when I got reelected because I knew I could only do eight years, that's what our Constitution calls for," he says. "And I always thought it was a waste of time to spend a day of the life you have wishing you could do something you can't do anymore. It's like, what if I'd been a professional basketball player and [it was already] 25 years after my career was over? It's just a waste of time. And I've enjoyed every part of my life and I love what I'm doing now. I'm really happy with it."
President Clinton says he's involved in his wife's campaign for president, but not in an official manner. "If she's writing an important article or giving an important speech, she'll ask me to read it," he says. "And once in a while she'll ask me for some advice on something strategic. But she knows so much more about a lot of this stuff than I do because I'm far removed from it."
If Hillary is elected as the first woman president, what will President Clinton's new title be? "My Scottish friends say I should be called 'first laddie' because it's the closest thing to first lady," he says. "I'm not so worried about what I'm called as what I'm called upon to do."
When President George W. Bush asked his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and President Clinton to join forces, the two former opponents helped raise close to $1 billion for tsunami and Hurricane Katrina relief.
Presdient Clinton is also leading the charge against a new threat to America's young people—childhood obesity. He had battled his own weight as a child and received a wake-up call after a serious heart attack and subsequent quadruple bypass surgery. "I'd always been interested in sports and athletics and I'd been regularly running since 1971," he says. "But when I had this heart attack, I realized it was because of eating habits, in part, this heart problem I had because I had very high cholesterol and blockage, but the blockage grew out of decades of bad eating habits."
President Clinton has since teamed up with the American Heart Association to promote healthier eating habits in children. "If the present trends continue, this generation of young people could be the first to have shorter life expectancies than their parents," he says.
Learn more about the William J. Clinton Foundation at ClintonFoundation.org.
Kendall took $360 of her own money and placed it in an envelope. She asked her mother for a stamp. "I said, 'What are you doing?'" her mom, Ellery, recalls. "She said, 'I'm adopting an AIDS orphan.'"
And she did. All $360 went to Banite, an 8-year-old girl in Mauritania. But as Banite's life got better, Kendall's took a turn for the worse. Born with a rare liver disease, she underwent two liver transplants.
From her hospital bed, Kendall made a selfless request. Instead of flowers and gifts, she asked people to donate to children in Africa. "She's looked at the blessings that she has in her life and even though she also has great challenges, she's chosen to focus on how blessed she is and then turn her attention outward to others who she feels have less than she does," Ellery says.
Kendall founded her own organization, Kids Caring 4 Kids. She's raised more than $100,000—enough to help an entire village of children. Learn more about her organization at KidsCaring4Kids.org.
Just a few hours before taping The Oprah Show, President Clinton spoke during a rally at Kendall's suburban high school. The students thought he was there to honor them for their donations to cancer research and Locks for Love—until he called Kendall on stage.
"I'm going into Chicago to talk more about giving with a friend of mine who wants to meet you, Kendall," he says. "So [your principal] has agreed to give you a little time off today so you can you can go with me to meet Oprah Winfrey and be on her television show."
Kendall has raised $100,000, but she has higher hopes for the future. "My next goal is to raise $1 million for AIDS orphans in Africa," she says.
Little does Kendall know that she's moved a friend traveling with President Clinton—and he's ready to help make her dreams come true. During a commercial break, he whispers an unexpected surprise into President Clinton's ear. "Kendall, the man who came here with me today—who absolutely forbade me to use his name because he wants to be anonymous—wants me to tell you that he is going to give you a half a million dollars."
In 2006, Andre battled a searing back injury to play his final match at the sold-out U.S. Open. It was a defining moment in sports history. His wife, tennis legend Steffi Graf, and their son Jaden, cheered from the sidelines as thousands of fans gave Andre a four-minute standing ovation. Andre says it was an amazing moment. "It was worth every ounce of energy or sweat that I went through. That one moment," he says. "Normally when I play tennis, everything's blurry except the ball. In this case the ball was very blurry that day, I assure you, but it's like I recognized everybody that was there."
In 2001, Andre founded the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, a charter school located in an economically challenged area of Las Vegas, his hometown. The state-of-the-art school is equipped with a medical clinic and fitness center, which Andre says is a way of reminding the kids how to care for themselves.
Students at the school must abide by a Code of Respect, and everyone must sign a contract. He says the parents commit to reading to their children each night and sign off on every homework assignment. "This school isn't just about education," Andre says. "It's about self-respect, holding your head up high, taking ownership of your life."
Brandon, a 16-year-old sophomore at the school, and his brother are being raised by a single mom, while his father is in jail. "When [Brandon] started here, he was very quiet," his mom says. "Within about a year, he went the complete opposite direction. I've had teachers call me and say, 'What happened to Brandon?' I am eternally grateful to Andre for what he's done."
Andre cannot wait to watch the first graduating class go to college—and he's building a bridge for graduation day. "As they go across, they're going to unveil where it is they're going to college," Andre says. "And for that moment, every child down there is going to look up and say, 'That's the walk I want to take. I have to make that walk.'"
President Clinton says he featured Andre's school in Giving, his new book, because charter schools are an issue he has cared about since he worked to create more of them during his presidency. "In the entire county in which Las Vegas is in Nevada, including all the wealthy areas, his school was the only one that received the highest designation in performance from the State of Nevada—in the poorest neighborhood in the state," he says. "I featured him because I wanted people to know that this could be done."
In addition to its achievements, President Clinton says he wanted to show people the school's rules and Code of Conduct. "I think a lot of people have given up on public schools. They don't think this can happen," he says. "[Andre] has proved that if you have the right rules, the right school culture, you can do it."
People from across the country are challenged to help total strangers so that they can feel the high of giving. Over eight weeks, we follow their every move, and in the end, the biggest giver wins!
Andre and his wife, tennis star Steffi Graf, appear as auctioneers for a charity event as part of Oprah's Big Give. "I really enjoyed people reaching out into the community and involving them," Andre says. "We all have a hundred chances a day to make a difference in somebody's lives, but if we actually proactively seek that, you can do some amazing things!"
Watch ABC this spring to see the surprise ending of Oprah's Big Give.
Even if their business partners are halfway around the world, lenders can check on the progress of the venture via e-mail. "You feel as if they're family, and you root for them," says Ann Brown, who lent money through Kiva. "You know their names and they become like these little celebrities in your life."
Financing a loan through Kiva gave Ann the chance to help a small business owner in the same way a lender once helped her. Twenty years ago, Ann was a struggling artist who wanted to start a handbag business—but she couldn't afford to buy the materials.
Then Ann got the lifeline she desperately needed—a small loan to get started. Now that her business is thriving, Ann says she wanted to give back. She visited Kiva.org, and decided to help Martiza, a mother of two living in Ecuador who wanted to start a business. Once the loan is paid back, Ann says she can look for someone else to help. "It feels wonderful," she says. "It's the ultimate shopping experience!"
Matt says it takes about 1.5 days for the average entrepreneur to receive funding for a project through the website. "We use PayPal, who provides us free payment processing," he says. "People loan through PayPal through Kiva, and we wire that money directly to the field partner that gives it to the entrepreneur." Learn more about Kiva.org.
Jessica says she and Matt were first inspired by seeing entrepreneurs in East Africa doing great things with their families with small amounts of money. "It's their shot. And they just soar. They take it and they run with it," she says. "So to see so many borrowers, to know that that's happening with thousands of individuals because of Kiva, but also to know that other people can be connected and participate in the stories the way that we were."
Now, Nora is a senior at Princeton University—and she's still collecting pennies! "We're at $6 million in pennies," she says. "It's now a yearlong educational program, and it's the children themselves that give all the money away—9,000 grants, 20 million hours of service projects." Learn more about Nora's organization, Common Cents, at CommonCents.org.
If you'd like to help people but you don't know how, President Clinton says the Internet creates an almost unlimited capacity to get involved. Kiva, for example, gives its visitors an easy way to impact the lives of people around the world, right from their living rooms.
"I think that there are both opportunities and potential givers out there everyplace that haven't been tapped," President Clinton says. "One of the things we know is that intelligence, ability and dreams and the willingness to work hard, they're evenly distributed throughout the world and throughout the neighborhoods of America. But systems, opportunity and investment aren't. So insofar as the rest of us can provide that, that's what we ought to do."
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