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vendredi 2 avril 2010

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*I did post it also on the forum.

À l'attention des membres de Bon Jovi Fans

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By David Ginter

I must confess something up front: I’m not much for pop culture (nor mainstream music) and I don’t follow the lives of any celebrities; with one exception. Jon Bon Jovi is a lot of things — musician, writer, businessman, CEO, sports enthusiast, family man, political stumper, and philanthropist who’s active in his community, among other things. He’s a down to earth guy who has made it big as the front man of a band that carries his name, but beyond the music, is a man that cares deeply for the underprivileged.

Saturn's Hands on Homes Program.He has been the chairman of the Special Olympics fundraising efforts (highlighted by the “A Very Special Christmas” music events), honored for his efforts by various food banks in both New Jersey and New York City, raised money to provide college scholarships for teenagers around the world and partnered with Samsung to further the Four Season’s of Hope, which provides funds for a variety of charities and education programs. He has used his business savvy to forge a multitude of corporate partnerships which help provide anything from school supplies for needy children, jobs programs for the less fortunate, even major appliances for homes that have been built by the Habitat for Humanity — an organization which he is heavily involved in, even to the point of being their founding ambassador for national and international relations. He has used his fame to forge partnerships with the likes of Bill Clinton and a variety of city governments, for affordable housing projects across the nation. He, and his band, partnered with Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network to rebuild an entire neighborhood (and Bon Jovi got a neighborhood street name after them) following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Jon has lent his voice to such high profile events as Live 8, Live Aid, Live Earth, Farm Aid, and 9/11 A Tribute to Heroes. He has also lent his voice to lesser profile events by holding numerous concerts for U.S. troops, countless concerts for charity fundraising efforts, and teaming with Iranian singer Andy Madadian for a version of “Stand By Me” which was meant to go viral during the turmoil Iranians faced during elections of 2009.

The list of good that Jon Bon Jovi is doing could go on for a very long time. Several years ago I happen to have met someone who lives in Jon’s community, and when they discovered that Jon has been a bit of a hero of mine they had stories to spare, which elucidated Jon’s commitment to his community. He would host a fundraiser for a community health clinic (and strategically bring together some influential people to help) on a Sunday night, then be at his kid’s soccer practice the next afternoon. Even though most of his philanthropic efforts are done in relative privacy and cover many areas, his passion has always been in community and homelessness.

The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation started out as an extension of Jon Bon Jovi’s arena football team, the Philadelphia Soul. When he bought the team, Jon had a vision of a team grounded in community and community needs, that could provide a safe and accessible place for families. He hired athletes of higher moral character so that they might be positive role models for kids, and used the team’s profits to fund reconstruction projects in run-down Philadelphia neighborhoods. It was all part of Jon Bon Jovi’s vision of harnessing community efforts to break the cycles of poverty and homelessness. Unfortunately, the AFL announced that the league will be suspending operations indefinitely as of late 2009, but that hasn’t stopped the original mission. In fact, Jon Bon Jovi’s efforts have only intensified.

The JBJ Soul Foundation’s website notes that “the organization’s goal to recognize and maximize the human potential in those affected by poverty and homelessness by offering assistance in establishing programs that provide for permanent, affordable housing while supporting social services and job training programs.” And now, that goal has expanded from Philadelphia and New Jersey (famously, Jon’s home turf) to a national stage.

Jon sees the world through a lens of optimism and in the faces of so many of life’s downtrodden, he sees potential. A segment on NBC’s Making A Difference captures Jon’s efforts to provide opportunities through affordable housing and jobs programs, as Jon gives Brian Williams a tour of the Genesis Apartments in Newark, New Jersey. Now, Jon has taken these efforts on the road.

As his band has undertaken a two-year tour of epic proportions, the frontman is carrying a message of volunteerism. He filmed a 2 minute video promoting “United We Serve”, as well as a similar 60 second spot to run on national advertisements (both of which can be seen by clicking on the link). AmeriCorps members and volunteers from local nonprofits are on hand to talk with concertgoers about how to find or create community service jobs through the program’s Web site. That’s not the only way Jon is taking advantage of his time on the road.

In the cities of Atlanta and Phoenix, the JBJ Soul Foundation are partnering with other affordable housing organizations to build more apartment complexes. The tour also finds Jon visiting numerous shelters for hardcore alcoholics, touring Skid Row in Los Angeles (on his birthday no less) and even squatters’ villages, as he hopes to learn more about the issues surrounding homelessness and what he can do to help. He describes this effort in this short video.

The optimism and everyman themes that color Bon Jovi songs are not just appeals to a wider audience, it’s a way of life for Jon Bon Jovi. When I was 15 years old I discovered the music of Jon Bon Jovi and his band, which, through a long series of complex events, has opened me up to a wealth of profound experiences in my own life. I owe them a lot. At just 15 I looked up to Jon Bon Jovi as a role model; 10 years later, I still look up to him and couldn’t be more proud to be a Bon Jovi fan.

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