Service and values were the key topics on the mind of first lady Melania Trump on Wednesday as she received the annual Woman of Distinction award from Palm Beach Atlantic University.
The award honors “women who cherish community and family and want to preserve these ideals for others.”
“As the first lady of the United States, it is a great honor to serve the people of this incredible country,” Trump said during the awards luncheon in Florida, according to The Hill.
“When we teach our children to cherish our values and care for each other, they are better prepared to carry on Americans’ legacy of compassion, service and patriotism,” she said as she spoke about her “Be Best” initiative, which focuses on well-being, online safety and opioid abuse.
“Be Best can mean performing a simple act of kindness, providing care for someone in need, or teaching a life-enriching lesson,” Trump said, according to Time. “It is my hope that by promoting Be Best values, we will give a voice to the concerns and struggles of our children, and help them overcome the challenges they face.”
Talking about the third pillar of her initiative, she said, “Opioids have affected the lives of more than 2 million children in the United States. I’ve seen firsthand how opioid abuse affects families who struggling with addiction. I have traveled to children’s hospitals and treatment facilities who support those affected by opioids.”
“It takes compassion and care from families, communities, places of worship and schools, all coming together to give our children the very best future.” – @FLOTUS, speaking to women at annual Women of Distinction luncheon hosted by @PBAUniversity. #BeBest
— Stephanie Grisham (@PressSec) February 19, 2020
Tickets for the event sold out shortly after the first lady was announced as this year’s honoree, a university representative told Newsweek. Proceeds from the event benefit a PBAU scholarship for female students.
“Raising emotionally healthy children starts with teaching them how to make responsible decisions,” Trump said, according to CNN. “It is our job as adults to pass along wisdom and build children’s confidence, so they have the best opportunity to succeed in life.”
Touching a personal chord, the first lady thanked her parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, who were present.
“I’d like to thank two special guests who are joining me here today — my mother and father,” she said. “Thank you both for your support and love throughout my life. I will always be grateful for all that you have done for our family over the years.”
Trump noted that raising children has become an even greater challenge in the age of social media.
“Technology has become a daily part of our children’s lives in both positive and negative ways,” she said. “We live in an age where too many people allow the number of retweets or likes to define their self-worth.
— ABC News (@ABC) February 20, 2020
“I am convinced now more than ever that teaching healthy online behavior is crucial to securing a safer future for our children.”
The first lady praised students for their volunteer efforts.
“I especially want to recognize the scholarship recipients and students who join us here today — you and your classmates have spent over three million hours serving people across this state,” Trump said.
“America’s first lady has sounded the call for action,” Bill Fleming, the college’s president, said, according to the Palm Beach Post. “She serves as a role model with brilliance, elegance and grace.”
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 19, 2020
“Our first lady is an exquisite human being, a magnificent wife and life partner, a superb mother and an outstanding first lady, who represents us brilliantly in the United States and worldwide,” Eileen Burns, co-chairwoman of the event, said when the award was first announced, according to the Post.
“Melania is a perfect example of a Woman of Distinction and we are most proud to honor her,” Burns said.