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Celebrities Volunteering and Giving Back – Johnny Depp

Celebrities Volunteering and Giving Back – Johnny Depp

Once again, Tim Burton has successfully exploited Johnny Depp for his recent film, Dark Shadows—a horror comedy-drama based on 1960s gothic horror opera. Of course, as a fan who is constantly thanking god for Johnny Depp’s existence, I rushed to the theatre on its release date. Despite the typical withered and pallid look of vampire that Tim Burton likes to put on him, Johnny Depp looked like the most beautiful and glorious corpse on this earth. I could not help but run wild with my imagination. How wonderful this world must be to be wedded to Johnny Depp? Oh how lucky Lori Allison is! Is it just me that thinks he is possibly the most beautiful human being in this world? You may think I’m judging a book by its cover. Well, yes I am and I’ll tell you why.

1. Jack Sparrow and his surprise visit to children.

When Depp’s 8-year-old daughter, Lily-Rose was hospitalized, Depp and Vanessa Paradis put their lives to hold. They had to bring production of his movie Sweeney Todd to a standstill. Lily’s E.coli poisoning led to the failure of her kidneys. “To say it was the darkest moment, that’s nothing,” Johnny Depp spoke to a reporter from Entertainment Weekly, “It doesn’t come close to describing it. Words are so small.” When his daughter finally recovered, Depp decided to devote his time and money to do good works for children’s hospital.

The Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Lily had her surgery, specializes in the most life threatening conditions, regularly treating 150,000 patients a year. Unfortunately, it is not receiving enough funding from the government and the children at the hospital would rely on public donations for their on-going treatment. Depp donated a pledge of $1.96 million for the redevelopment of two-thirds of the hospital site. Following his donation, he visited the hospital himself and spent a day in a Pirates of the Caribbean’s Captain Jack Sparrow’s costume to read bedtime stories to the young patients. For a father who understands the hardship that a family goes through for a child’s suffering, Depp understood the importance of supporting the young patients both financially and emotionally. Even after his donation, he would drop in unannounced, always dressed as a pirate.

2. Johnny Depp’s gift for children in need of support

In 2005, Barry and Sarah Westwood’s son, Mark—a huge fan of Johnny Depp, was diagnosed with a tumor. He underwent three operations to remove the malignant growth, which were futile. He mostly spent his time in the Alder Hey Hospital, the biggest and the busiest children’s hospital in Europe. Spending all day at the hospital to take care of their son, Mark’s parents befriended a couple was also had a son with cancer. After watching a movie Pirates of the Caribbean, which Mark was fanatical about, Barry and Sarah discovered that their new friends were acquaintance of Johnny Depp. A few days later, Mark received a personal video message from Johnny Depp. Delighted by an unexpected surprise, Mark had one of best moments of his life. On January 2007, Mark passed away. After his death, Barry added “Mark did so many special things during his life and we have a lot of people to thank.” By sending a cheerful message to one who really needed it, Johnny Depp bettered Mark’s life.

Johnny Depp is also an active member of ‘sophies gift’, which helps the children in coma by using celebrity’s personal video to patients. Andrew Wilkinson, the father of a child in coma, initiated this project and started recording as many different voices as possible to make sure that coma patients will improve. “When someone is in a coma, it’s important to find that key to unlocking them out of the coma,” said Alison Wilkinson. “It could be a smell, a sound, or a voice. In Sophie’s case, we knew she was a huge fan of Johnny so we thought that if she heard his voice it may wake her. We realized what a great idea it would be to have a bank of celebrity voices reading out specific commands that the doctors have issued.” The couple showed their appreciation for Johnny Depp. “We were over the moon when Johnny Depp agreed to record a tape, and now more stars are signing up, it’s fantastic. Now that Sophie is showing signs of responding to certain voices it’s the critical time to get her listening to as many different voices as possible” Johnny Depp supporting this couple until the initiation of a project, in which several of the top celebrities are now members of.

3. Johnny Depp’s Angels

While Johnny Depp engages in volunteer activities to better the children, his angels are also working hard. Johnny’s Angels—a charity organization, which is conducted by a small group of dedicated women to raise funds and awareness for children’s hospice, regularly hold fund raising events and participates in various activities. (http://www.johnnysangels.org/)

The organization seeks to best benefit Johnny Depp and it has been successful with their sales of fan items, fund raising and other various events. Their most recent fundraising was right after the release of Dark Shadow, where they raised $4400. Johnny Depp himself is also aware of the good works of this organization and has written them several letter and made a donation to CHPCC in its name.

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Corporate Citizenship: A Means to an End

In response to our post about corporate philanthropy and consumer confidence, we had a reader voice their opinions about corporate philanthropy and if it is actually doing our society any good, or just covering companies overhead costs for their foundations or initiatives. To paraphrase what our reader voiced, was the fact that often times the cause marketing and advertising of the corporate philanthropy that we as consumers see in the media today can be very misleading. His main concern was that we are not holding corporations accountable for how their philanthropic money is being used, and that much of it is going to overhead costs of corporate owned foundations, rather than directly towards the causes that they support. Our reader has a strong point and brings up a big issue in terms of how do we hold corporations accountable for the charitable actions that they are giving to the community, and if it is really solving the issues that the corporations are toting.

In trying to learn more about this issue I came across an article by Mara Einstein, author of Compassion Inc.: How Corporate America Blurs the Line Between What We Buy, Who We Are and Those We HelpOne of the main things that she pointed out was that it is no longer good enough to just attach a “charitable cause to all of our purchases”. What she means by this, is that although there is some merit in donating based on the purchases that a corporation receives for a particular product, it is not generally a sustainable way to do business or to maintain substantial help for the charity that they are donating to. Not only that but with the community as a whole, this is not solving a problem, it is merely putting a band-aid on it and hoping it stays for the long haul.

What these campaigns are lacking, is a few things. The first is that it leaves it up to the corporation to decide what charity or cause it is going to donate to. The issue with this, as described above, is the fact that the general consumer does not where these funds are going and how they are being used. Another problem with this is that it is not always the case that the corporation is picking the charity or cause that is most popular with their consumers. Leaving their needs unresolved. Another issue with this type of social marketing is in the way the product is produced and the level that which the corporation is pressured to improve upon their product or service to make it more sustainable. It is true that the corporation may see an increase in sales due to putting a donation behind their product, but it does not actually solve the causes that it says to be fighting for. What it is actually doing, is throwing money on a fire and hoping that it blankets it enough to stop the fire all together. The issue with this, is that these causes and those that work for the causes aren’t always the most efficient with this money, nor does the money go directly towards preventing the issue. Instead it is used to mask the problem.

There is a better way to do this. As Mara points out in her article management of these companies do not have enough incentive to actually prevent these social scars. Instead they are often incentivized to make the company as profitable as possibly to reach their bonuses. Mara declares that they should also be held to qualitative measures of performance, but quantify them so that it is directly measurable, such as how many people’s lives were directly benefited due to the donations, or how many less outbreaks of malaria there were compared to the previous year, that was directly related to their giving. If they do not meet these goals, they should not be able to receive bonuses. This is a way of finding a means to an end, not just consistent cover up of a problem.

Management also needs to realize that this does not just come from them, but all of their associates as well. Any person can have a great idea that optimizes a particular product or service and makes it better for our communities. CEO’s and presidents need to understand that one of the greatest resources they have in their company is the minds of those that they employ. Not only that but creating programs or incentives for your associates to volunteer and donate their time in an effective manner can go a long way. As I described in earlier articles, time and personal contact can mean the difference between a succeeding non-profit, and a struggling one. However, these companies need to assure that their foundations and employees are in fact doing what suits them best. The Home Depot Foundation should not be volunteering to help do micro financing, nor should Quick Books be trying to build houses or structures. 

Corporations and those that run them need to realize that although money can help particular initiatives, other aspects can go a long way. Examples of this would be donating actual products to a non-profit, like Lowes giving tangible resources like sand bags to aid in disaster relief after a hurricane, or a playground company donating equipment to be built at a near by park in a struggling neighborhood, or HR Block giving their time to help a struggling non-profit complete their taxes, or Target donating school supplies to underprivileged children to help their education.  Money is not always transparent, but the time and resources that we give is, which is good for not only the causes that are receiving these products, but for the companies PR, as consumers are able to see what exactly the money that they purchase with is going to. Unfortunately, as it stands now, tangible supplies like that, are what the top Fortune 500 companies give the least of, which isn’t much when they are only donating .11% of their revenue to such causes each year. At this time what we really need is a whole host, of many strong willed, and devout corporate citizens to make a change in our society.

We at FuzeUs hope to solve that with our website and applications, but will need the help of others to make sure that we are holding true to our word and properly serving the community that we set out to benefit.

Celebrities Volunteering and Giving Back – Angelina Jolie

Celebrities Volunteering and Giving Back – Angelina Jolie

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Angelina Jolie

In the movie, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Smith reluctantly reveals to her husband Mr. Smith that she lied about being in the Peace Corp. Visibly annoyed, Mr. Smith flares up and shouts, “I really liked that about you!” Off screen, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt seem to be the happiest couple in Hollywood although Angelina is not working for Peace Corp. In fact, she is doing so much more in reality. Aside from adopting a daughter from Ethiopia and giving birth to another in Namibia, both Brad and Angelina have spent some serious time and money on causes in Africa.

1. What inspired Angelina Jolie

When Angelina Jolie was in Cambodia to film “Tom Raider” she wasn’t just off raiding tombs and spending time with her little boy Maddox. Her interest in humanitarian affairs piqued during her stay in Cambodia. In an attempt to gather information on international trouble spot, Angelina contacted the United Nations High Commissioner. They set up a meeting and she decided to visit refugee camps around the world—an 18-day mission to Sierra Leone and Tanzania. Faced with the gruesome scene she witnessed, she said, “I was shocked by what I saw” In the end, she covered all costs related to her missions and shared the same rudimentary working and living conditions as UNHCR field staff on all of her visit.

2. As a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador

On 2001, Jolie was appointed as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador at UNHCR headquarter in Geneva. Reflecting on her time spent with humanitarian field workers on her mission, she spoke, “We cannot close ourselves off to information and ignore the fact that millions of people are out there suffering. Honestly, I want to help. I don’t believe I feel differently from other people. I think we all want justice and equality, a chance for a life with meaning. All of us would like to believe that if we were in a bad situation, someone would help us.”

Ever since, Jolie has interrupted her busy schedule to be on field missions around the world. She represented UNHCR and the High Commissioner at the diplomatic level and engaged with others on global displacement issues. Not only did she facilitate solutions for people in need of help, she actively participated in the mission to visit refugees in more than 30 countries. She even volunteered to visit areas that are at war. Here is a list of some places she visited.

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  • 2004 – Darfur region of Sudan during the Darfur conflict
  • 2007 – Chad during its civil war
  • 2007, 2009 – Iraq during the Second Gulf War
  • 2008, 2011 – Afghanistan during the ongoing war
  • 2011 – Lybia during the Libyan revolution

3. What is she up to now?

After more than a decade of working as a Goodwill Ambassador, Jolie was promoted to the rank of Special Envoy of high Commissioner Antonio Guterres on April 17, 2012. As her new position, she represents the organization at the diplomatic level and will facilitate long-term solutions for large-scale crisis. “This is an exceptional position reflecting an exceptional role she has played for us,” said a UNHCR spokesman.

Jolie also uses her public profile to promote humanitarian causes through the mass media. Her book, Notes from My Travels, which was published with her film Beyond Borders is only a fraction of her works. Overtime, Jolie became more and more involved in her promotion of humanitarian causes, especially on a political level. She was an invited speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos and also met with members of Congress to spread her thoughts.

In addition, she established several charitable organizations. In 2003, she founded the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which dedicates to community development and environmental conservation in Cambodia’s northwestern province. After three years, she partnered with the global Health committee to establish the Maddox Chivan Children’s Center–a daycare facility for children affected by HIV. That same year, she and Pitt founded the Jolie-Pitt Foundation to aid humanitarian causes worldwide. In 2008, she collaborated with Microsoft Coporation to establish Kids in Need of Defense, a pro bono movement of law firms, corporate law departments, NGOs and volunteers committed to providing legal counsel to unaccompanied immigrant children in the U.S. Finally, in 2010, she established the Jolie Legal Fellows Programme, which recruits lawyers to support governmental child protection efforts in Haiti.

It’s hard for me to doubt Jolie’s genuineness when it comes to volunteering and promoting humanitarian causes. What do you think? Are you inspired? Or are you still doubtful?

Please share your thoughts about her work with us.