First Lady, at luncheon, urges community service

WASHINGTON – Michele Obama, “American Idol” finalist Blake Lewis and I had lunch together Thursday, along with 1,700 others during the annual First Lady’s Luncheon.
Mrs. Obama, who spoke briefly before the baked halibut and citrus entree, used her bully pulpit to challenge luncheon-goers to national and community service, especially during these difficult economic times.
“We’re all in this together,” she said. “Community service is an integral part of empowering our nation to be stronger.”
She urged participation May 9 in a nationwide food drive by letter carriers, who ask Americans to leave canned goods beside their mailboxes.
And she thanked the scores of congressional spouses who helped her box food packets Wednesday for thousands of District of Columbia school children to take home.
“Each one of us has something to contribute,” she added in urging the crowd to get more involved with helping their hometowns, states and nation.
It was a festive midday event at the Hilton Washington’s International Ballroom, with hundreds of green and black toile-clothed tables touting an environmental theme for the home state of luncheon chair, Julie Reichert, wife of U.S. Rep. David Reichert of Washington state.
The menu also reflected the state’s bounty with Washington wine and cherry ice cream for dessert.
My table was packed with relatives of Rep. Charlie Melancon of Louisiana, whose wife, the former Peachy Clark, and her four sisters hail from Clarksdale. Peachy has been a longtime friend and was kind enough to invite me and my daughter, Margaret, to the gala event.
Diversity in music also was there, from pop tunes by The Marine Band to more “hip” fare from former “Idol” runner-up Lewis.
When it was all over three hours later, luncheon participants left with toile tote bags filled with environmental tips, a packet of basil seeds and a dessert plate recreated from the White House china used during the George Washington administration.
Storied Congressional Club cook books also will be coming home to Mississippi.
And the new White House pet? Mrs. Obama said Bo, the Portuguese water dog, “is the best puppy in the world” and she even enjoys arising at 5:30 a.m. to take him for a walk.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal