LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Former President Bill Clinton paid a visit to the Clinton Presidential Library Wednesday evening, his first Arkansas appearance since the start of the pandemic.

The 42nd President of the United States spoke at a gala thrown for volunteers of the Clinton Center, an event that had been canceled in previous years due to the pandemic. He spoke for just over 16 minutes and started by acknowledging his absence from Arkansas. 

“This is the longest I have been without being in Little Rock,” Clinton said, “and I have missed it.”

He thanked volunteers of the Center and Foundation for their hard work during a challenging year, saying, “I’m really glad that in spite of all of it, we seem to have retained our ability to have a positive impact on this community.”

Clinton also reminded listeners to come together for the sake of progress, putting aside political and ideological differences in order to work towards a common goal.

“If you’re working together and you’re getting everybody together and you’ve got a common goal, you have a halfway decent chance of getting there,” Clinton said. 

For volunteers, it was a special addition to an already meaningful night. The gala was the first time many have seen each other in almost two years, a coming together of what Clinton Foundation spokesperson Rebecca Tennille calls “a family”. 

“It’s always nice to hear from President Clinton,” she said, “and always nice to hear a thank you.”

President Clinton ended the night with a promise to the volunteers, saying, “unless something unforeseen happens, I will never be close to this long away from home again.”