SO there are just some celebrities who do it right. They are political in ways that cross party aisles. They use their amplified voices to get the world to listen. They throw their celebu-weight behind causes that truly change the world. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are two at the highest level of this category. The buddies have long been advocates for a world of fairness and peace, and grew into philanthropic and activist powerhouses with their charitable organizations. Affleck’s Eastern Congo Initiative is a true leader in elevating awareness and action in this devastated region of Africa, and Damon’s water.org puts millions of eyeballs on the issue of world water access and inequality (not to mention quality). Of course these organizations are not one-man-bands, and are run day-to-day by incredible teams of tireless staff and volunteers, but the fact that they are passion projects for a couple of famous dudes gets a great level of attention, recognition, and, ideally, our action.
Omaze is hosting a charity fundraiser, where for a ten buck donation, you can enter to win an evening in Hollywood hanging out with Damon and Affleck…or Affleck and Damon…
Your flight plus one guest’s, as well as hotel, are covered, and together with Ben and Matt you’ll attend a fancy schmancy Hollywood event, and hang out. Proceeds go to support their two organizations, so everybody wins. Check out their goofy, fun video after the jump, and if you want to learn more about pitching in and getting more deeply involved with their outstanding organizations, click and go: Eastern Congo Initiative and water.org Continue reading
Today, March 22, is World Water Day, via the United Nations, giving international focus to freshwater needs of people around the world, and the importance to life and food security, of getting water into every community. Over a billion of us don’t have adequate drinking water for survival, much less hygiene. In many communities, women or children must walk many miles/hours just to procure water for each day’s use (which means that time is NOT being spent caring for families, working to support the family, or going to school). Dehydration and contaminated water kill some of us hour by hour, 365 days a year.
Gulp down a big glass, because you can, and celebrate that fact (and enjoy it as well, since most of us don’t hydrate enough for optimum health) and then get involved. Support Water.org or Water People or one of the many outstanding organizations trying to bring access to this most basic and fundamental human need. After oxygen, we need water most. If there is not enough for all, that means there is not enough. Period. We can spread the wet wealth, as long as we are dedicated to the cause of prioritizing survival for everyone in our global family.
Justin Bieber, the star currently sitting quite comfortably in one of the more highly placed thrones of the Mount Olympus of fame, has shown the wisdom that can come from 18 years of life. On his birthday Thursday, when he reached that somewhat arbitrary cultural landmark that says you are an adult, Bieber requested of his millions of international fans that they donate eighteen dollars to his charity of choice, water.org, to help address the water crisis that affects a billion people in the world. Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related illness, so Bieber Fever, a cute and catchy suggestion of an illness, can be cured (or elevated, if that is the desire) with good, clean water. Last year, with the same request from the birthday boy, fans raised $47,148 that went 100% to the water charity. This year is on track to beat that number, soundly. That is the prescription for a happy birthday for a pop star and a gift that keeps on giving. And don’t think you’ve missed the boat since his March 1 birthdate has passed–he won’t be the slightest bit upset if your gift is late…just as long as you give.
It’s that time of year when every form of publication and broadcast is doing round up pieces…the best of…the top ten…of the year gone by, or predictions for the year beginning. DoSomething.org has, on their Celebs Gone Good pages, an article that points up the charitable work of the famous among us—it’s a list I love. It is the Top 20 celebrities and their charitable work throughout 2010. The usual suspects are here: Ellen (in addition to her commitment to ending hunger, shining a spotlight on bullying and the amazing work of The Trevor Project), Oprah ($40 million to charities), Matt Damon (water.org), Alicia Keys (Keep a Child Alive)…and a few that really stepped up, perhaps for the first time, in the past year—Lady Gaga (Hands Up for Marriage Equality), Justin Bieber (Pencils of Promise), Sophia Bush (advocacy and awareness of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster), Nick Jonas (Change for the Children Foundation and his tireless work for diabetes treatment and awareness)…
And you! Celebrate the great work you did in 2010, and plan to ramp it up even more in 2011–our commitments to the world grow because we grow…and we grow because of our commitments.
I’ve just returned home from Boston–a city in which I’d never spent any time, and would genuinely like to spend more time there to get to know it better. Because of Good Will Hunting, Boston always puts me in mind of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck–they were so young then, and now are such leaders in philanthropic causes. Damon is, of course, the crown prince of clean water charitable work with his water.org particularly present this week, during World Water Week.
Also this week, on March 22, Affleck has launched the Eastern Congo Initiative, “the first U.S. based advocacy and grant-making initiative wholly focused on working with and for the people of eastern Congo.”
ECI is working to create economic and social development projects that benefit the communities of the region, focusing specifically on: sexual violence victim support; assimilating child soldiers back into their communities; community-level peace programs; increasing access to health care and education; and promoting economic opportunity.
Returning from the Congo, Ben said, “The situation in eastern Congo has been neglected for far too long — it is one of the worst humanitarian tragedies in the world. I brought together this unique collection of partners in order to bring their experience in humanitarian relief and sustainable development to bear as we focus like never before on local solutions to challenges in this region. Right now, the attention paid to this crisis doesn’t match the needs of those affected by it. We will raise that attention level, and work with the extraordinary Congolese people who are making a positive difference in their own communities.”
Lend your help and voice: www.easterncongo.org
CLINTON GLOBAL INITIATIVE-DAY ONE
Last night, Tuesday, was the opening plenary session and welcome for the Clinton Global Initiative fifth annual meeting. There were a thousand members of the press wedged into the basement of the New York Sheraton hotel, and a thousand special guests upstairs in the Metropolitan Ballroom…and at least a thousand more security and secret service.
After metal detectors and security wands and pat downs, I was finally admitted to the bowels of the building. The technology is impressive with several Wi-Fi channels and the conference even has it’s own closed messaging system, so Barbra Streisand can tell Brad Pitt his haircut looks great and it’ll stay between them.
The CGI is an annual gathering of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and charitable orgs, business leaders, and world leaders (the rooms are lousy with presidents and prime ministers) who gather to make specific commitments to projects to better the world. This was the birthplace, in past years, of projects like Matt Damon’s water program (www.water.org, expanding this year to Haiti), the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Initiative, and so many more. In the five years since beginning there have been 1,400 commitments made (participants are required to make commitments to existing projects or commit to creating new projects), valued at $46 billion dollars, and impacting the lives of 200 million people in 150 countries. This year’s meeting will give birth to 30 more of these programs.