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Archive for October, 2012

Actors Fund NY Office Here to Help Those Affected by Sandy

October 31, 2012 Comments off

New Yorkers are famously resilient, despite even the most difficult challenges. They always bounce back.

People in entertainment and performing arts are just as tough. We all know it takes guts to survive the ups and downs of this business.

We send a standing ovation to the Broadway community as they re-open for business today. The Actors Fund has been there throughout the past 130 years, to celebrate the “ups,” and help our community during the “downs.”

Case in point: Even though our website and NY Office number continue to be periodically affected by outages caused by Hurricane Sandy, we are open for business, and our staff is here to help during this very difficult time in the Tri-State region.

We’ve been receiving messages from people in need of emergency financial assistance, last-minute work, access to medical care and others who just want to help our community by making donations to assist those hurt most by the storm.

If your home or apartment was damaged in the storm and you don’t know who to contact for help; if you are without work or between gigs and have no steady income; if you are without medical insurance and in need of medical care; or if you simply are at risk with no friends or family to go to for emergency financial help – the entertainment and performing arts community can continue to reach out to us for assistance. That’s why The Actors Fund exists.

We ask you to please spread the word to friends and family who may not have internet access, and let them know The Fund is here to help:

PHONE NUMBERS FOR THE ACTORS FUND:

• New York Office: 212.221.7300 ext. 119
• The Actors Fund Work Program NYC: 212.354.5480
• Chicago & Central Region: 312.372.0989
• Los Angeles & Western Region: 323.933.9244
• Alternately, you can send us a Direct Message on Twitter (@TheActorsFund) or a private message via Facebook (www.facebook.com/TheActorsFund) – all communication (including via DM and Private Message) is confidential. We’re checking our social networks regularly, and will relay your message to our social work staff to help get you the help you need.

Also, The Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic in NYC is open and operational! To find out about eligibility or to make an appointment, call 212.489.1939. 

And STAY TUNED: We’re compiling a list of additional organizations that will be helping everyone throughout the post-Sandy recovery. We’ll post the information soon!

If you’re not in the region and would like to help (or if you’re one of the lucky ones who hasn’t been affected by the storm), please consider a donation, which will help us support people in need as Sandy’s aftermath unfolds – many won’t be able to make ends meet in the coming weeks, while others will need help repairing their homes or paying for medications and food. Until our website is back up and running, you can call any of our main numbers to donate: 212.221.7300 (NYC), 312.372.0989 (Chicago) or 323.933.9244 (LA).

Thank you to our amazing entertainment community, who is always there to support each other – and we thank our incredible donors who make our work possible.

Whether you find yourself alone and in need of help, or when you are back on the boards tonight at 8 pm – remember The Actors Fund is here for you. For everyone.

Now on with the show!

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Categories: Uncategorized

The Actors Fund Helps: Dori

October 24, 2012 Comments off

Dori in front of The Fund’s Palm View residence, a 40-unit apartment complex that provides homes to low-income people with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles. Credit: Scott Appel.

The Actors Fund is there for anyone in the entertainment industry for emergency help. When it comes to special programs, such as the HIV/ AIDS Initiative, donors should know their support really helps people get back into life.”

In 2005, after a brush with death as a result of his illness, Dori (an actor, producer, and politival activist) was in dire need of assistance, and through word of mouth he learned about The Fund. Initially, it was given through emergency financial aid and ongoing counseling, but later, The Fund really started to come through for Dori—especially when it came time to apply for Social Security Disability.

Due to residual effects caused by the virus, Dori had difficulty writing so his counselor at The Fund spent three days filling out the 100-page application as Dori dictated his answers. And he credits the government’s rapid approval—less than three months—to the help he received from that counselor.

“Even some friends…who are in the industry and know about [The Fund] aren’t aware that it’s open to more than just actors,” says Dori. “They also don’t know how specific The Fund gets when you have a catastrophic illness, and the work that it does. So they’re all pretty amazed. And they actually have donated to The Fund because of the help I’ve received—and continue to receive.”

As time went on and feeling somewhat stronger, Dori was ready to get back into life. He decided he wanted to use his experience to help raise awareness, especially as his case as a straight male infected by a woman is not perceived as a usual one. With this in mind, The Fund encouraged him to take advantage of the Willard Swire Scholarship, which provides financial support to qualified Actors Fund clients making a transition to a new career. This opportunity “was a blessing,” and enabled him to take a certificate program in International Studies with an emphasis on Middle Eastern Politics at UCLA.

As a result, Dori found a position and worked for two years as Director of Development/Media for the Safe Haven Project, a global non-profit dedicated to HIV-positive youth. He created a promotional film for the organization, and worked at its site in Ghana.

“This is where The Actors Fund was really instrumental in helping me get back into living,” he explains. “I decided I really needed to do something with my experience, and dovetail that with my 30 years in the entertainment industry. The Actors Fund helped me go back to school, and acquire the knowledge I needed. I wanted to work in Africa, and I knew it was important to understand the Muslim culture, because 70% of Africa is Muslim. And this really helped me get back into life and living again…it’s a simple as that.”

His counselor at the time, Linda Zimmerman (who Dori credits with helping him “navigate through the murky waters”), presented the idea of moving into The Palm View. He became a resident in March. Now happily settled in, he’s currently using his skills in a variety of other projects, including a documentary based on children with HIV, and becoming a motivational speaker.

Donate today so The Actors Fund can continue to help entertainment professionals like Dori!

Categories: Uncategorized

Stokes In Concert – To Support The Fund & Lincoln Center!

October 18, 2012 Comments off

Stokes during his 2007 Carnegie Hall benefit for The Fund. Photo by Anita & Steve Shevett.

On October 31, Brian Stokes Mitchell (our fabulously talented, Tony Award-winning Chairman of the Board) takes the Alice Tully Hall stage for a gala evening to benefit The Actors Fund and Lincoln Center. Stokes will host this very special evening, which features cocktails and dinner, as well as his performance of songs from his brand-new album of classics, Simply Broadway, which will have just hit the shelves the day before (it’s currently available for preorder on iTunes and CDBaby). Check out the video below, in which Stokes shares a little more about the recording.

This performance kicks off Stokes’ five-city charitable concert tour, for which he has selected five non-profit venues across the country where he’ll perform in concert, and at least 50% of the proceeds will be shared between The Actors Fund and each theatre. Each show is designed to promote cooperation and giving, and emphasizes the importance of the arts in the lives of people everywhere. Stokes intends for this series to encourage people in all occupations and professions to partner in this manner to help sustain the national philanthropic spirit.

A longtime champion of promoting a better community through the arts, Stokes received  the 2012 Outstanding Contributions to the Arts Award from Americans for the Arts on October 15. Congrats, Stokes!

Tickets for the October 31 Lincoln Center are $250 for the cocktail hour plus performance, and $125 for the performance only (just use code AF50). For tickets and more information, please visit the Alice Tully Hall Box Office at Broadway at 65th Street, call CenterCharge at 212.721.6500 or visit lincolncenter.orgDates and locations for the remainder of Stokes’ benefit tour will be announced shortly! To stay up-to-date on all things Stokes, follow him on Twitter, and like him on Facebook!

Housing Opportunity in a New Environment

October 11, 2012 Comments off

The Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation (AFHDC) is a subsidiary of The Actors Fund that offers a vital service to the entertainment community by working to develop high quality, affordable, supportive and senior housing. The staff knows how important it is to stay on top of important industry news, so recently AFHDC’s Project Analyst Rebecca Sauer attended a conference, and shares her thoughts with the community in this week’s blog.

Housing Opportunity in a New Environment

AFHDC’s Rebecca Sauer

The Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation (AFHDC) knows it’s vital to keep up with trends in housing, so in September I joined policy analysts, academics, government employees, and other real estate developers for a conference at The New School: “After the Crisis: Housing Policy and Finance in the US and UK.” There were countless discussions, but the one I found most fascinating was about opportunity and particularly how, in the current economic environment, housing is connected to opportunities that might improve one’s life circumstances. The discussion largely centered on homeownership vs. renting. As AFHDC’s current focus is on rental housing, I don’t typically consider the concept of homeownership in my daily professional life – but this reminded me that the relationship between the two types of housing is close and significant.

Andrew Jakabovics of Enterprise Community Partners noted that, traditionally, people have been renters until they can become owners, and have rarely gone back. But now, as a result of the millions of foreclosures in America, former homeowners are retreating to rentals, either permanently or until the markets stabilize. In this context, he asked, how can we make homeownership less risky and more accessible?

The discussion also touched on why society cares so much about homeownership. Nicolas Retsinas of Harvard University noted that although buying a home is typically not a great investment for the average American, it allows for greater control of the household budget. (For example, you can refinance your mortgage, but not your rent payment). Eric Belsky, from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, added that homeownership is the only leveraged investment that most Americans can access, so it’s many people’s only opportunity to build wealth.

Clearly, the prospect of homeownership continues to resonate; despite foreclosures, tight credit markets, and falling home prices, one survey reports that close to 90% of Americans still expect to be homeowners. Temple University sociology professor Anne Shlay suggests this is cultural, not economic, and critiques the embedded notion that owners are in some way morally superior to or have more rights than renters. In her eyes, the renting/owning dichotomy is a tool of social exclusion.

Given this background, what do you think housing opportunity looks like for the performing arts community? Do you think artists want to own homes as much as everyone else? Is it time for more policies promoting homeownership, or should we start a new dialogue about renting and society?  (See here for some testimonials from tenants of Actors Fund buildings). Whatever your view, the housing choices we make are some of the most important and complex of our lives. We have to inform ourselves, particularly as options shift with the economy.

Visit the Actors Fund Housing Resource Center for links covering topics such as foreclosure assistance, subsidized rental opportunities, and tenants’ rights in NYC, Chicago and LA. If you’re in New York, you can attend our upcoming seminars on Finding Affordable (Rental) Housing, and in January 2013, learn about how to prepare yourself for homeownership and take advantage of first-time homebuyer programs at the next Homebuyer Readiness Seminar. Another piece of this puzzle is a healthy relationship with your finances, so visit the Actors Fund Financial Wellness Program for information about one-on-one counseling, seminars and group workshops.

And please, let us know what you think!

Rebecca Sauer has devoted her professional activities to the development of inclusive and prosperous urban communities. As a Project Analyst, Rebecca brings to the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation experience in community development and housing policy in Buenos Aires and New York City. Immediately prior to joining the AFHDC, Rebecca worked as the community development officer for operations at Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) New York City. There, her responsibilities comprised management of HUD funding, organizing workshops for community development corporations, and coordinating a housing program for youth aging out of foster care. 

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Remembering Dale Olson

October 4, 2012 Comments off

On Thursday, September 20th, hundreds of people gathered at The Hollywood Museum to pay tribute to publicist and Actors Fund Board of Trustee member, Dale Olson. The beautiful ceremony included remembrances of Dale by Harlan Boll, Maxwell Caulfield, Donelle Dadigan (President of The Hollywood Museum who donated the space), Diane Ladd, Charlotte Rae, David Rambo, Doris Roberts, Marion Ross, Kevin Thomas and Actors Fund Western Region Director Keith McNutt, who spoke about Dale’s commitment and dedication to The Fund.

Directed by John Bowab, the event also featured Patricia Morison, who sang “So in Love,” and Davis Gaines, who performed “Someone to Watch Over Me” – two of Dale’s favorite songs.

The last speaker was Gene Harbin, Olson’s husband and companion for over 30 years, and we especially thank him for helping us pay tribute to this incredibly special man, who we all will miss very much.

We thought we’d share some photos from the event below. For more, check out The Hollywood Reporter’s piece on Dale’s memorial, and read our interview with Dale about some of his work with Rock Hudson.

Mitzi Gaynor

Actors Fund Western Council Vice Chair David Rambo

Diane Ladd

Patricia Morison

Western Council Member John Bowab and Western Region Director Keith McNutt

Dick Guttman wearing his trademark fedora

Maxwell Caufield and Doris Roberts

Charlotte Rae and Marion Ross

Garry Marshall

Western Council Member B. Harlan Boll, Keith McNutt and Eugene Harbin