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Douglas gives local, global issues a hand

Thesp's foundation's focus is on disarmament

Since its inception in 1991, the Michael Douglas Foundation has given to more than 90 charities, some local and entertainment related, and some benefiting causes as far away as Sierra Leone.

Most importantly, says the actor, the foundation enables him “to focus on one of the areas that is important to me, which is disarmament, so I focus most of my energies there.”

One key opportunity for Douglas and his foundation to contribute to the disarmament campaign came in July 1998, when U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan named Douglas a messenger of peace. Yvonne Acosta, from the office of the secretary-general, emphasizes that Douglas has been a very strong and important spokesperson for the U.N.

The foundation also has contributed to a peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone, where Douglas was involved in a documentary about child soldiers for Showtime.

Acosta notes that Douglas, moved by his experiences in the village of Kono, requested that funds donated to the U.N. by the foundation be used specifically for the rehabilitation of an athletic field and to finance the education of one of the social workers he met, Samuel T. Kamanda.

The Ploughshares Fund, an organization with nuclear disarmament on its agenda, has benefited from both the foundation’s largesse and Douglas’ hands-on involvement. In 1999, the fund approached producer and fund supporter Saul Zaentz and asked for an introduction to Douglas. Since that meeting, the foundation has been a consistent contributor, according to executive director Naila Bolus.

Closer to home, the foundation is a major benefactor of such local charities as the Motion Picture & Television Fund. Every year for the past five the Michael Douglas & Friends celebrity golf tournament has donated the entirety of its proceeds to the fund.

Motion Picture & Television Fund Foundation CEO Ken Scherer, says Douglas approached him six years ago and indicated his willingness and desire to get involved and give back. He also had a very specific idea in mind, the golf tourney.

Scherer estimates that the tournament has raised in excess of $2 million for the fund, and stresses how essential the foundation and Douglas’ involvement have been in raising awareness.

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