Special Assistant to the President, Erik Hotmire (center), a native of Convoy, stands in the Oval Office to brief President Bush about the USA Freedom Corps.
Special Assistant to the President, Erik Hotmire (center), a native of Convoy, stands in the Oval Office to brief President Bush about the USA Freedom Corps.
During his State of the Union address in January 2002, President George W. Bush put forward the following call, "My call is for all Americans to commit at least two years — 4,000 hours over the rest of your lifetime — to the service of your neighbors and your nation."

And so was born the USA Freedom Corps.

Freedom Corp encompasses the Peace Corps, Americorp, Senior Corp and Citizen's Corp and works with thousands of organizations across the nation. According to Hotmire, Special Assistant to the President and Communications Director of USA Freedom Corps, the effort has been successful. The Department of Labor instituted a study that revealed that 63.8 million people volunteered in 2003, four million more than in 2002.

Hotmire, the son of Philip and Juanita Hotmire, grew up on a farm just five miles north of Van Wert. His mom runs the preschool at a local church and his father taught at Paulding Middle School.

As a teenager, Hotmire worked at the local radio station on a part time basis and remained in that position until he graduated from Indiana's Taylor University with a major in political science. He also worked at WPTA TV and MAGIC 95 radio station in Fort Wayne, Ind. While there, he met a number of people in government. One of those people was Senator Dan Coats, (R-Indiana), who offered Hotmire a job. Hotmire accepted and worked with Sen. Coats for two years in Washington D.C. before moving on to work for other senators. Eventually, he landed a job in the White House.

His job at the White House came about because of the reputation he developed during his eight years of work with senators. When the Freedom Corp position opened up, his colleagues suggested Hotmire for the job. Hotmire went to the White House for his final interview, which turned out to be with Andrew Card, the President's Chief of Staff.

Hotmire said it became apparent that he had the job because, "Andy would say things like, 'when you start work here.'" A 12-14-hour day is usual for Hotmire and his day begins with a meeting with other members of the President's communications team, including Press Secretary Scott McClellan and Communications Director Dan Bartlett. As a member of that team, Hotmire travels around the country promoting volunteerism and the Freedom Corps. He also prepares information the president can use in speeches and works with the National Advertising Council to promote the Freedom Corp and volunteerism.

While Hotmire doesn't see the President every day, he does see and report to him frequently about the Freedom Corp. He said Bush is a good guy and is endeared by his staff. "It's my high honor to get to know the president and serve him. The president is a strong leader, smart, and I have the utmost confidence in his abilities."

Hotmire stated that Bush has surrounded himself with amazing people like Colin Powell, Condolezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld. Hotmire takes his job as a public servant seriously. "I encourage Americans to answer the call the service," he said. He also credits his success because of some of the values he learned in Van Wert. "Growing up in Van Wert County in a community that really values hard work and doing the job right the first time, that honors faith and family, has served me well." He went on to note, "So many people have served me well; my parents, church members, the teachers at Crestview."

Hotmire expects the November elections to be a tight race. "John Kerry has a record of honorable service and will be a tough opponent," he said, "but we feel President Bush is a strong leader."

Regardless of what happens in November, he's sure he will continue with public service. "Public service is such a high calling, where you can make a difference. It's an honor to take the values I learned in Van Wert and affect things in Washington in some small way."