Monday, April 27, 2009

General Hospital's Resident "Bad Boy" Does Good for Habitat GLA

(ALTERNATE TITLE: Brandon Barash has a HUGE heart! But you probably
already knew that...)
Humanity of Greater Los Angeles, I have had the privilege of connecting
many talented artists and celebrities with Habitat families and with our
mission of providing safe and decent housing for all. One of our newest
supporters is none other than General Hospital's Brandon Barash, (aka:
Johnny Zacchara, mobster and Port Charles' #1 heartbreaker. But please
note from the start: offscreen, Brandon is one of the most genuinely
kind people I have had the honor of working with, and not at all like
the "tortured" character he plays on GH.)

(Flashback: Los Angeles, October 2008) Brandon first got involved with
Hollywood for Habitat last fall, when he attended the Building a Greater
Los Angeles Gala. That night, he had the chance to meet some of the
families we serve, as well as, hear about the work we do and he told me 
"I am so inspired and moved by what the Habitat families said and I want to do
all I can to make a difference, any chance I have"...

So (obviously!) when we asked him if he would contribute an item to our
Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity Online Auction, which would raise
funds to further our mission, he said "YES! I'll give you anything you
need..." Little did he know that what we needed was actually
HIM...hence, the "Win Lunch with Brandon Barash," auction was born...and
it was one of the top sellers in the auction, thanks to his incredible
fans! (A side note to that kindness thing I mentioned earlier: Brandon
also donated an autographed hardhat for our recent "Celebrity Hardhat
Auction"...and then was kind enough to take the time to replace it when
it was accidentally damaged in transit.) Actually, while we're on the
subject of kindness, we should probably thank a couple of other kind
people that also took the time to send "replacement" hats. So, THANK
YOU Zac Efron (you'll all have to wait until our next auction to see
what Zac did to his "replacement" hat, it’s absolutely AMAZING! A work of
art!) and THANK YOU Carrie Underwood (always extremely generous, Carrie
turned her "replacement" hat around in record time...less than a day,
and right before she was leaving the country!) Clearly, Brandon is in
GREAT company in Habitat auctions! And so were the lucky winners of
lunch with him...

(Cut to: Los Feliz, CA, present day:) Auction winner Shelley has flown
in from Arkansas to Los Angeles to have lunch with Brandon. Shelley is
a longtime fan of Brandon and General Hospital, who met her good friend
(and +1 for the day) Angelina through their mutual admiration for
Brandon and the show. They stay in touch by phone and email, and
meetings at various GH and Brandon related events across the US, and
they have developed a great friendship as a result. How cool is that?
(Note: we think its pretty cool!) They also run a website for Brandon,

Shelley and Angelina arrived at the restaurant with many surprises in
hand for Brandon...a bag of personalized fortune cookies, photos from
previous meetings and more...but Brandon arrived with a surprise of his
own...castmate Lisa LoCicero (GH's "Olivia")!...The girls were clearly
thrilled! Brandon and Lisa are an absolute joy to be around (so are
Shelley and Angelina!), and everyone had a great time throughout the
very yummy lunch. "Lisa is a brilliant actress and awesome to work
with," said Brandon...but he wasn't done with the surprises just yet...

As the lunch concluded, he asked the girls what their plans were for the
afternoon, and then extended the invitation for the girls to join him as
his guests on the set of GH for a little while! So we said goodbye to
Lisa (who went home to her family), and off we went...


(CUT TO: General Hospital set, undisclosed location) The girls had both
been to the set before, but Shelley hadn't seen actual filming take
place...until today! Apparently because there was recently an __________
(insert your fave plot device here: explosion/fire/mob war/crisis/other
misc dramatic disaster), they have a brand new set at General Hospital.
(Note to GH fans: yes, it’s very pretty! And also very clean!) Brandon
told us that they recently started shooting the show in HD. He also
shared how much respect he has for his fellow actors and how much he
enjoys his interaction with his fans...

After watching a few minutes of filming (Note to the "powers that be" at
GH: we'll never tell what we saw! Note to GH fans: sorry, no "spoilers"
here!), the girls and Brandon headed outside to take some photos (see
below)...the girls also got yet ANOTHER surprise when Brandon introduced
them to cast members Nathan, Tony and Natalia in the parking lot. All
were extremely gracious and kind...

When I asked Shelley why she bid in the auction when she had already met
Brandon so many times, she told me, "At the events we are all so
busy that we don't get to spend a lot of one on one time with
Brandon...I thought it would be a good chance to sit down and talk,
calmly. And then when I saw where the money was going I was like WOW! I
really hope I win! Habitat does wonderful work." Angelina added,
"Because Shelley doesn't live here, we don't get to spend a lot of time
together, so this was a good reason for her to come to LA for a few
days." Brandon added "I wouldn't trade this experience for anything, 
these ladies are the is just as much a treat for me to be able to
spend the day with them."

Shelley and Angelina told me that they were very impressed with Brandon
from the first minute they met because they had sent him a bunch of
personalized fortune cookies and he actually took the time to reach out
to them and say THANK YOU. "Just to have someone who appreciates his
fans is AWESOME!" said Shelley. "Not many people take the time to do
that," said Angelina...Brandon said "It was so kind of THEM, I had to
find out who they were." And so it began..."He doesn't treat us like
fans, he treats us like friends," said Angelina. "Of course, because you
are!," Brandon responded...

I asked Brandon what he enjoys most about interacting with his fans and
he said "It really resonates with me, what the girls said over lunch,
that they feel united by the show, and have made friends because of
it - the fact that the show brings people together is incredible."

As the day came to an end, I asked Shelley if the experience was worth
the trip (she had to miss work and take two planes to get here, in
addition to her winning bid!) "ABSOLUTELY YES! Being able to go to set
and having Lisa come to lunch with Brandon was priceless! 
It was surprise after surprise and all good ones! And I learned so much about 
Habitat. We won't come down for a while...this is a day we will NEVER forget." 
(Note to Shelley: We're so glad you're smiling! Come build with us soon. 
Bring Angelina! And maybe Brandon would like to join you? Lisa too?)

Isn't it fun that you can help support Habitat for Humanity families in
need by simply bidding on auctions to meet your favorite stars? (Note:
we think so!)...Brandon fans and GH fans please follow @habitatAli and
@habitweets on Twitter for more info on upcoming auctions, contests and
events...we may even have a few surprises of our own to share with you
soon. We promise to tell you more, but won't tell you
when....because what would a good daytime drama experience be without
the requisite cliffhanger ending? Stay tuned...

END CREDITS (and THANKS!): On behalf of all of us at Habitat, HUGE
THANKS to BRANDON and SHELLEY, for making today possible. HUGE THANKS
also to Angelina, Lisa, and our behind the scenes angel, Mia. Today
showed that a little bit of kindness goes a long way, and life is full
of great surprises! It was a pleasure to bring you all together, for a
great cause (if we do say so ourselves!), and your continued support of
Habitat is VERY much appreciated! We hope that all of our auction
winners continue to go home as happy as these lovely ladies...

PHOTO CREDIT: All photos provided exclusively for Habitat's use by
WRITING CREDIT: Blog posted courtesy of Ali w/ Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity


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Check out more of our posts:

Have You Registered for our 2nd Annual "The House that General Hospital Fans Built" event?!

Cast Members of General Hospital Thank You!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Calling All Music Lovers, Trekkies and Art Connoisseurs; Feed Your Passion and Help Others in Need!

We are thrilled to be part of The charitybuzz Mother's Day Auction that will be running through May 6th. A few of our supporters have donated one-of-a-kind items to be auctioned off with all of the proceeds going towards building more affordable housing in Los Angeles for deserving families. There is really something for everyone, so treat your mom, dad, brother, wife, or yourself (we won't tell) because these are really gifts that keep on giving. Not only will you be investing in something that you, or your family, will have forever, but you will also be investing in a home that another family will have forever. Now, that's something to make your mother proud!

Linkin Park, Green Day, Chris Pine and Louis Carreon have all donated items to be auctioned off. See below to find out more and get links. Let the bidding begin...Good luck!

LINKIN PARK:   Linkin Park has donated an autographed Epiphone guitar to be auctioned off by Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity. Here's your chance to become the owner of an awesome guitar and do good for others at the same time. You can bid here and 100% of the proceeds raised benefit Habitat for Humanity families in need.  Please support this worthy cause that is close to the band's heart.  PS:  Check out ALL the pixMike did an amazing one of a kind drawing on the back of the guitar


GREEN DAY:  Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and TrĂ© Cool are ongoing supporters of Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity and have once again donated to an auction to benefit Habitat families.  Bid here on a cool Epiphone guitar and 100% of proceeds benefit Habitat families in need.  While you’re waiting for the new album to arrive, you can make a difference by supporting this cause that is important to the band.

CHRIS PINE:  As part of his consistent support of Habitat for Humanity, Chris Pine has signed a Star Trek poster to be auctioned off by Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity.  Check it out here.  Bid now and100% of the proceeds raised in this auction benefit Habitat for Humanity families.  We hope you will support this worthy cause that is near and dear to Chris' heart. Please participate in the auction and help Habitat for Humanity put more families into homes.

LOUIS CARREON:  An artist who is amazingly talented with a huge heart. You could own one of his signature paintings that combines his trademark use of stenciling, hand painting and spray paint. Once you see the work of this sought after artist you'll want to  Bid here -  100% of proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity families in need. 


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Friday, April 10, 2009

City Yoga Announces Yogathon to Benefit Habitat For Humanity

Welcome Guest Blogger & Yogathon! Coordinator, Stacey Wiren:

Yogathon! was the brainchild of one of the City Yoga teachers back in 2003 as a way to take our practice off the mat and into the world - our community. Habitat for Humanity was the logical choice because it helped out the local community AND we could go and physically work on the project. It wasn't a"write a check and feel good about yourself" thing. We wanted to really help and participate. Yoga stresses action as its mantra. Taking action in your life and in your community. 24 hours of yoga is hard, but fun. Building a house is hard, but fun! The result of both is very healing...

At the last two Yogathons over $80,000 dollars was raised to help build a home for a local Los Angeles family in need. This year's Yogathon will be held this summer, June 27th through June 28th, during which yoga students of all levels will participate in a continuous 24-hour yoga class.

Contact us if you'd like to sponsor our yoga students or better yet, join us!

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Guest Blogger: Pat Genovese of Notre Dame Academy Elementary

My name is Pat Genovese and I am a teacher at Notre Dame Academy Elementary. I am thrilled to be a able to share my experiences from this past week. In the past, my 2nd Grade students have participated in Habitat for Humanity's Act! Speak! Build! Week and it was always an incredible learning experience on many levels.

This year, back in a Kindergarten class, I strongly felt that it was important for my students to understand that our responsibility, as citizens, is to help those in need. We began with the book, Everyone Needs a Safe Place to Live, and focused on the importance of caring and respecting all people in our world. Our word of the week was 'adequate' and we explored what adequate housing signifies. Our poem of the week was titled, 'Home'. The students watched a Habitat video to see examples of substandard housing and the work of volunteers as they built a new home. In cooperative groups, students decorated t-shirts and hung them on a clothesline to communicate the need for adequate housing. They wrote individual poems about the significance of a safe home; made cards for new homeowners, played Habitat Bingo; used coins to purchase Habitat "building supplies"; wrote letters to our president and senators; and made a house with their bodies. Students' advocacy efforts included spreading the word within their families. 

Throughout the week, the kindergartners learned the importance of serving others and acting cooperatively to end poverty housing. They recognized the right to decent housing for all people and realized that even though they are children, they can still make a difference in the world.