Sean Penn and friends help Haiti at annual fundraiser
On Saturday night, in a philanthropic departure from the Golden Globes Awards bashes dominating the weekend, Academy Award-winning actor, activist and humanitarian Sean Penn hosted his annual Help Haiti Home gala in Beverly Hills to benefit his J/P Haitian Relief Organisation (HRO).
The “Mystic River” star has been an advocate for the French-speaking Caribbean nation since it was devastated by the deadly 7.0 earthquake that left thousands homeless in 2010.
He co-founded the J/P HRO and became its chairman and CEO, going on to be honoured with the Nobel Laureates’ Peace Prize for his ongoing efforts in the stricken country.
The actor/director, who has raised millions for the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation was also appointed its official ambassador-at-large.
On Saturday, for the fourth year in a row, Penn’s fundraising gala brought out some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Reese Witherspoon, Salma Hayek, Pamela Anderson, Adrien Brody and Ben Stiller, as well as his children Hopper and Dylan Penn, and rumoured fiancée, Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron, who joined him on the red carpet.
Probably the night’s biggest guest, and the recipient of an award for his work in Haiti, was former United States President Bill Clinton, who received a resounding ovation from the crowd.
President Clinton spoke passionately about the organization’s work, Penn’s dedication, and J/P HRO’s proven track record in building empowerment in the country, which is still reeling from the devastating earthquake.
He encouraged the audience to bid generously in the gala’s auction, which included such prizes as a trip to Haiti along with himself and Penn.
Another highlight of the fundraiser was an impromptu performance by Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, who performed “Magic” and “Viva La Vida” solo on an acoustic guitar.
Yet another surprise performance was delivered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who brought the curtain down on the night’s festivities.
In an interview with Access Hollywood, Penn revealed that he and Theron had recently returned from the latest of his frequent trips to Haiti.
“It’s a worthy project,” he said of his non-profit J/P HRO, which helps earthquake survivors in Haiti with relocation, community development and medical care.