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10 Celebrities Who Give Back to the Community

Posted on March 16th, 2011 by Alley Pezanoski-Browne 15 Comments

Courtesy of David Berkowitz, DINOBRA, DVIDSHUB, Jurvetson, stevebott, and Walmart Stores (via Flickr)

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” -Muhammad Ali

Giving back to your community is an important way of expressing humility, kindness, love, and gratitude for all that you’ve been given in your life. Many celebrities who collect big paychecks also give back in a big way.

Here are 10 celebrities who are leading by example, helping communities nationally and internationally:

1. Mary J. Blige
An international R&B superstar, Blige is also an advocate for women. She co-founded the Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now (FFAWN). She also opened the Mary J. Blige Center for Women in Yonkers, New York, and became a mentor at an all-girls public high school in the Bronx, New York, where is also providing college scholarships to the students there.

2. Brad Pitt (and partner Angelina Jolie)
Hollywood superstar Brad Pitt is known for starring in over 30 movies and for having lots of kids, but he is also a philanthropist. Using his knowledge and interest in architecture, Pitt started the Make It Right Foundation, a nonprofit organization that builds green, affordable housing in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. In 2006 alone, he and his partner Angelina Jolie donated more than $8 million to charity.

3. Jennifer Lopez (and husband Marc Anthony)
Triple threat singer/actress/dancer Jennifer Lopez has a long history of giving back. Lopez teamed up with Amnesty International to launch a website that raised awareness about 350 young women who had been killed in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua since 1993. She is an avid supporter of the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and was presented with the Children’s Humanitarian Award in 2004. She and husband Marc Anthony made a large donation to the Children’s Health Fund’s Operation Assist after Hurricane Katrina. Then in 2010, she joined Denzel Washington as the spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Club, becoming their first female spokesperson.

4. Denzel Washington (and wife Pauletta Wahington)
In addition to being the spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Club with Jennifer Lopez, Academy Award-winning Denzel Washington also makes giving a family affair with the Pauletta and Denzel Washington Family Gifted Scholars Program in Neuroscience. He has also donated $1 million to the historically black college, Wiley College.

5. Rosario Dawson
Rosario Dawson has starred in films like He Got Game, Sin City, and Men In Black II. When she’s not working, she gives her time to many philanthropic campaigns. She founded the organization Voto Latino and is a spokesperson for the Lower East Side Girls Club. She has also worked with Oxfam, Amnesty International, Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and she hosted a concert event in support of Global Darfur Awareness Day, with the proceeds going to the International Rescue Committee.

6. Ludacris (and friends Chaka Zulu and William Engram)
Hip hop star/actor Ludacris started his foundation in 2001, with the help of his friend Chaka Zulu and William Engram. Their foundation has donated $500,000 to grassroots organization that help youth, uplift families, and foster economic development in the community.

7. Alonzo Mourning (and wife Tracy Mourning)
Former NBA star Alonzo Mourning and his wife Tracy founded the Alonzo Mourning Charities, which donated over $7 million to non-profits that serve at-risk children and youth, as well as the Overtown Youth Center for underprivileged youth. Tracy Mourning started the Honey Shine Mentoring Program for girls, and the Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High Biscayne Bay Campus was named after the philanthropic couple.

8. Edward Norton
Actor Edward Norton recently launched the website Crowdrise, which is a free, online way for people to create their own fundraising pages. Fundraising pages are shared through social networks, and you can win point and prizes as you give back. Norton came up with the idea for Crowdrise after the using Twitter when he raised $1.2 million by running the New York Marathon for his long-term cause, the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust.

9. Chris Rock (and wife Malaak Compton-Rock)
Actor/writer/director/ comedian Chris Rock has been a quiet donor to his local Salvation Army for many, many years. His wife Malaak Compton-Rock created the organization the Angel Rock Project, and its program Journey for Change empowers youth through global service. She also wrote the book If It Takes a Village, Build One about over 100 ways to live a life of service.

10. Usher
The R&B star Usher started the New Look Foundation, which provides career development, service opportunities, mentorship, and grants for youth-led programs. He also created the projects Camp New Look Leadership Academy, Moguls in Training program, and Powered By Service, which is an initiative that gets young people involved in changing their communities.

Bonus Celeb: No list of community-minded celebrities would be complete without mentioning Oprah! Not only is she the first female African-American billionaire, but she sponsors charitable initiatives worldwide with Oprah’s Angel Network and also started the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Africa. She has championed many other campaigns – from promoting literacy to speaking out against child abuse.

It’s important to note that there are many people who devote their lives to their communities, who don’t have the resources or prestige of the celebrities on this list. Please share your stories of everyday community heroes with us!

15 Responses

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  3. Charles says:

    Great article, enjoyed reading it! :)

  4. Deloris says:

    We need help! My step daughter have cancer. She have 2 children who are minors and they are living in a house that keeps their mother sick. We all know that any cancer patience needs the living area sterile so that there is no bacteria that can make them sick. I’m the grandmother by marriage who use to live with her and I kept the house as clean as possible. Now she has no running water, she have to boil water to cook, take a bath, the toilet don’t flush. She have no food to feed her minors, eviction notice I’m sure any day now,code enforcer at her door every other day. I help out as much as i can but I don’t always have for i’m disable. I cry out to God and i’m on my knees with prayer with hope that my daughter and her children makes it one day at a time. Now there is more to my story but I’d rather speak to someone that will help us. My daughter has no income so she survives through the help of others which are few. I’m hoping and praying that my story touch the heart of someone who could help me help her to live and be healthy so that she can take care of her children. She is in and out of the hospital practically every month at least 2x’s a month. All I can do is to pray and hope that she get help soon and able to live in a house she can call hers. her live is shorten because of her having cancer, This cry for help is my last resort. Please God hear our cries. (786-436-6083) please call me if you or you know others that can help us. Desperately waiting on your call to help us. Thank you.

  5. Mary N. Johnson says:

    I am from a small town in Mississippi. The young black men and some women are involve in drug. This people and town is behind when it come to advancing the better life and advancement for all people. I am going back home to aide the spiritual, economical, and the historical change that is long overdue. I will knock on doors to see this happen. Leaving a legacy for the next generation. The start is small, the vision is great and the finish is a legacy that will last for generations

  6. Tanika says:

    GOFUNDME.COM/CARTERSFATHER

    PLEASE TAKE A LOOK AT THIS STORY AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD AND DONATE.
    This is a very touching story and we are looking for more support. Every little boy needs their daddy. On that note, every child needs their parents. Please help spread the word and help make a difference.

  7. Dan says:

    This is a good list. For more, check out top 20 male celeb’s who give back. There’s a couple surprises…
    http://inspiyr.com/most-generous-male-celebritie/

  8. olivia deller says:

    i think it is amazing that people give to the less fortunate

  9. jimmy groh says:

    my name is jimmy groh and im reaching out for help.i lost my job for putting a stop to my old boss and townboard members from dumping raw sewer into the white river,the townboard fired me because it was an embarresment to them when i got this brought into the publics eye,my old boss was for years just dumping raw sewer into the river and when i stood up to them and said i was not going to allow this to happen anymore well they just fired me,now im about to lose everything i have and it is not fair to me and it sure is not fair to my family and my kids should not have to suffer because thier daddy tryed to do the right thing,i have tryed everywhere to get help and no luck, but i know one thing is that i have tryed everywhere and im to the end of my rope.if i dont get some help im gonna lose it all and that wont be good……im asking you because i know you truely care about people. here is the story as seen in the newspaper and on the wthr 13 news. 13 Investigates uncovers a gruesome find: high levels of E.Coli bacteria released directly into a major Indiana waterway.
    Even more disturbing is what appears to be a cover-up, including falsified records in the town where it happened.

    Indiana’s top environmentalists are now calling for a criminal investigation.

    The pictures and what’s in them are enough to make you sick, and what happened in the Owen County town of Spencer is enough to make you mad.

    “It’s everywhere, everywhere you go down there where it discharges. You can’t clean that up,” said Jimmy Groh, a former Spencer Wastewater treatment facility worker, as he pointed out an overflow of sludge.

    Groh then clicked on another image.

    “This is actually, raw, raw sewage coming from the town, and this is the final water going out, and you can’t hardly tell the difference,” he Groh said showing two water samples.

    But containers of murky water contain raw sewage even though one sample reportedly went through the cleaning process at the Spencer waste water treatment plant.

    13 Investigates has learned that for years, polluted water just like the murky sample flowed into White River, and right along with it, E.Coli, a nasty bacteria.

    What’s worse, the wastewater is coming directly from the water treatment plant that’s supposed to stop it.

    How could this happen?

    For years the water treatment plant sent bogus pollution records to the state.

    “The documents were falsified,” revealed Groh, who blew the whistle on the improper discharge.

    “Wow! I was just…I couldn’t believe that,” said Groh, who’s collected dozens of disturbing examples of potential water pollution from the plant.

    He says he was fired from his maintenance job at the Spencer Water Treatment facility after he took the pictures of the sludge flowing into the river, and showed them separately to both the Spencer Town Board President and an inspector with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

    “This is the discharge, where it comes from at the sewer plant. It comes down underground across the field to right here and this is where it discharges out to the river,” explained Groh.

    The edges of the canal where the water flows are now lined with black slimy sludge. Groh’s pictures were the state’s first clue that something was terribly wrong. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management went to the site to investigate and pulled hundreds of records.

    “It raised concerns. Anytime you see pictures that were showing environmental damage or potential environmental damage, we take it seriously,” said Bruno Pigott, the Assistant Commissioner at the Department of Environmental Management.

    Falsified reports

    Pigott confirms something sinister had been taking place at the Spencer Water Treatment facility for at least three years.

    He showed 13 Investigates a stack of test results that reveal a history of falsified records. The records were sent to the state by the Spencer water treatment plant to fudge the levels of E.Coli released into the river by the plant.

    “We have found enormous discrepancies,” added Pigott.

    Samples of processed wastewater from Spencer were sent to the Dillman laboratories in Bloomington. The certified test results were sent back to Spencer. But before those results were sent to state offices in Indianapolis, they were altered, most of the time drastically reduced.

    The real numbers show E.Coli levels routinely ten times higher than what was reported from Spencer.

    During the time in question, lab results show Spencer’s E.Coli levels were often over the limits and in some cases, off the charts.

    “A lot of the time I would see the paper come back from Dillman and it would say “TNC.” What the heck is “TNC?” “TNC” means too numerous to count,” Groh told 13 Investigates.

    So who was responsible for falsifying the numbers sent to the state, to cover up conditions like this?

    IDEM blames Shelley Edwards.

    Edwards won awards for years of working as a “weather spotter” while working as Spencer’s wastewater treatment plant Superintendent for 25 years.

    “He may tell you that he did not falsify the data, but we have three years of data…and his signature. It’s easy to say someone was falsifying data. He’s the one that signed off on it being accurate,” said Pigott.

    That data now has ramifications that go well beyond the town of Spencer.

    “The water program throughout the nation depends on the information submitted…to determine if water quality is being protected or not. If we can’t rely on it, how can the citizens of the State of Indiana rely on the fact that this water that’s being discharged from this facility is clean and safe?” added Pigott as he talked about the seriousness of the situation.

    13 Investigates went in search of Shelley Edwards, to his home and his job, before finally reaching him by phone. After identifying himself as Edwards, he told 13 Investigates:

    “Actually I didn’t falsify any records. There was some altered records that nobody was able to prove who did what and that’s all I can tell you at this time,” he said, denying he had done anything wrong.

    A town newspaper article says Edwards resigned from his post and mentions nothing of falsified records.

    “I am the one who signs off on it, I am the responsible charge,” Edwards acknowledged, but said, “The numbers that we seen, it wasn’t hurting anything. Otherwise IDEM would have punished me for it and they didn’t,” he said.

    Edwards says he quit to protect his health amid the scrutiny. But IDEM says he was stripped of his credentials for failing to consider the health of the environment by reporting false results.

    “Decertification of his license means that man can never be a wastewater treatment plant operator. He cannot sign information that is submitted to us,” Pigott said emphatically.

    “Why weren’t there environmental charges filed against this person?” questioned 13 Investigates.

    That’s when Pigott revealed charges are under consideration.

    “We also referred this matter up to our criminal division for investigation,” he said.

    IDEM says the criminal investigation is pending.

    Jimmy Groh wants a full prosecution for what he sees as a crime against his family, community and environment.

    “I’m ticked I lost my job, and I’m not going to lie about that,” Groh admitted, “But I’m really disgusted about this,” he said pointing to pictures of contamination. “The river’s going to be worthless if everybody does this,” he said.

    Over the last three years, the state has taken action against six other wastewater superintendents for falsifying data. Some of them prosecuted by the EPA for violating the clean water act.

    Neither the town president nor the town attorney would go on camera. i can also give you a link to the news video if you want to watch the news report, here it is.”http://www.wthr.com/story/19113049/investigation-shows-spencer-waste-treatment-plant-falsified-reports” so please let me know what you think, im an Marine corps vet and father of 3 and i am a 100% american and a believer in the truth and in honesty.I have worked all my life to get everything we have and now because i stood up and said no to these people doing this to our rivers i am about to lose everything.I know that you of all people understand what it is like to need help and for someone to step up and help you means the world, All i done was tryed to protect our rivers and the people of my community and the wildlife,i should not have to suffer so bad and have my family suffer so bad because of bad people like this and trying to do the right thing. Thanks for takeing the time to read this. jimmy groh 812-219-1017

  10. Nathan says:

    please donate to my cause!

  11. We are a street intervention team and all that our 501(c)3 LAST CHANCE INTERVENTION needs is a large sponsor for our “Scoot for Sobriety” Hello My name is Jules and we need help desperately. We just need a few resources. I can be reached on my cell at 928-458-0536.
    http://www.lastchanceintervention.com

  12. chris says:

    I am in the worst spot ever. I need helping am in need of a home I have found one big enough for my family as well as my sisters kids. I need to take them in but can not until I have a big enough place. I have found one less than 200,000.00 I don’t need a billion dollar home just one big enough to keep all the kids off the street( my sisters) I also need a new SUV to carry as many kids as I can. I have been divorced and had to start over twice. I am at the end of my rope its harder for me to start over because I have continuous that makes it harder to do things again. Plus I have a son that I have to worry about because he is type 1 diabetic. I just need these things and I will take care of everything else.

  13. umelikhaya lewalala says:

    I am poor South african grade 12 student living in Magaliesburg,Gauteng.My parents will not be able to pay for my studies next year as I need to go to a university next year.I really need someone who will help me and pay for my studies.Because education is the only weapon that I have to fight poverty and recruit my family from this poverty trap.I will be glad and I really believe that you will help me.

    THANK YOU.

    • vannessa says:

      this helped me out with my college essay i learned tht brad pitt isnt only hot he helps out many people from the world and many different communitys!!!!!!!! love you brad pitt i am a big fan of u!!

  14. Dear Celebs,

    my name is Brett, I own and run a drug and alcohol rehab. my mission in life is to help as many suffering addicts as possible. I have a project that I wanna start. I wanna take desperate drug addicts off the street and offer them rehabilitation in order to give them back there life. where I live there is so many addicts that are desperate for help. unfortunately rehab costs money and the guys I wanna help cant afford rehab. how can I get funding to help these addict get there life back? it costs me about 2000 dollars to treat a addict. is there anyway celebrities who give help me raise money to help these addicts off the street. my rehab is fully legitimate, we are registered with all the relevant departments in South Africa. please help me so I can help the people that cant help themselves?? please could somebody advise me on how to raise money to help these people? if required I can build profiles on the individuals and I can provide motivation for each addict individually? what ever is required to help these people, I will do whatever I can. Kind Regards and much respect.
    Brett

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