(ALTERNATE TITLE: Brandon Barash has a HUGE heart! But you probably
already knew that...)
many talented artists and celebrities with Habitat families and with our mission of providing safe and decent housing for all. One of our newest 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 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 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
(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 best...it 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 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
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!
Labels: brandon barash, carrie underwood, general hospital, habitat for humanity, hollywood for habitat, lisa locicero, zac efron