It’s undeniable that Sean Penn has made highly admirable contributions to film. He’s evolved into one of the greatest actors of his generation with his propensity for selecting meaningful projects, his skillful transformation into the characters he portrays and consistent moving and powerful performances. He’s one of the few actors who have remained authentic to his craft by not seeking fame, but rather engaging in intellectual storytelling that entertains.
Although the two-time Oscar winning actor is revered for his outstanding achievements in Hollywood, its his selfless work in political activism and generous spirit that has gained attention the last few years. Penn has tirelessly demonstrated his dedication to giving back in numerous ways and his J/P Haitian Relief Organization is just one avenue of helping others.
For the last seven years, the star has called upon his famous friends to help support the non-profit, which aims to rebuild communities in Haiti and this year almost $4 million was raised. Penn continues his passionate work for Haiti and disaster relief in the US and Caribbean– and Hollywood is standing with him to shine a light and raise much needed funds.
This year’s event honored Leonardo DiCaprio for his continuous leadership on combatting climate change.
“The biggest challenge now is to make sure that everyone understands what’s at stake,” DiCaprio said during his speech onstage at the gala. “But how can we do this when we have a president who, just this week, proposed a massive increase in offshore drilling?,” he continued. “Their denial of so much of the scientific proof and evidence belongs in ‘the Earth is flat’ chapter of human history.”
The gala was co-hosted Penn, Bryan Lourd and Alexandra & Sean Parker and sponsored by Lynne & Marc Benioff. Those in attendance included James Taylor (surprise performer), Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Casey Affleck, Jason Segel, Mark Burnett, Spike Jonze, Lena Dunham and Brad Pitt who bid $120,000 to watch an episode of “Game of Thrones” with Clarke — but he was outbid by another partygoer who ended the auction at $160,000.
Guest presenters included Haitian-American actress Garcelle Beauvais (Spider-Man: Homecoming) and Tom Steyer.
Additional guests included David Spade (Grown Ups), Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother), Spike Jonze (Director), Lena Dunham (Girls), Beck (Singer-Songwriter), Rachel Zoe (Stylist), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Former Governor of California), Willem Dafoe (Murder on the Orient Express), Tobey Maguire (The Boss Baby), Mark Burnett (Producer), Susan Sarandon (Feud), Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), Colbie Caillat (Singer-Songwriter), Zachary Quinto (Star Trek Beyond), Miles Macmillan (Model), Connie Britton (Nashville), Patricia Arquette (Permanent), K’Naan (Poet), Kit Harington (Game of Thrones), Floriana Lima (Supergirl), Ricky Martin (Singer-Songwriter), plus a live auction.
About J/P HRO
Since the 2010 earthquake, J/P HRO has become a key humanitarian actor in Haiti and now plays a remarkable role in community development on three major fronts in the Delmas 32 neighborhood: preventive health, education, and community building. Through its community clinic, the organization is involved in the daily prevention and treatment of diabetes, HIV-AIDS, and provides maternal and child health services as well as dental care, treating over 11,000 patients in 2017. The J/P HRO-run School of Hope provides free education to 200 students from marginalized backgrounds: 66 of whom are disabled. J/P HRO has become a national leader in inclusive education, providing and advocating for quality education for all children including those with special needs. As a result, J/P HRO was recognized as a 2017 recipient of the Haitian Government’s Accessibility Prize. J/P HRO also continues to provide life changing emergency response programming: in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew which devastated the South of the country, we have repaired over 4000 houses, allowing over 20,000 people to return safely to their homes. Finally we are taking lessons learned from our community level programming to tackle systemic challenges such as deforestation and environmental degradation. Under our Haiti Take Root initiative, we are partnering with the World Bank on a $27 million program that will help thousands of Haitian farmers increase their incomes, improve the environment, and strengthen their resilience to climate change.