Actors Fund builds up enormous good will

With 125 years of service under its belt, the Actors Fund has built up enormous good will among industry pros. In 2006, the Fund’s help extended to 8,000 people in 46 states, but those who have been helped by the Fund talk most about the staff’s warmth and positive attitude. Org prexy Brian Stokes Mitchell sums up the philosophy by saying, “The Actors Fund is a human services organization, so our focus has been on caring for the entire human, as opposed to dealing with the disease.”

SOCIAL SERVICES

Programs

  • Entertainment Assist. Program

  • Mental Health

  • HIV/AIDS Initiative

  • Chemical Dependency

  • Senior Services

  • Services for the Disabled

  • Conrad Cantzen Shoe Fund

  • Funerals and Burials

Mitchell Says…

“The AIDS crisis hasn’t ended, obviously. It’s not like polio or something that has been eradicated. People are still living with HIV and AIDS. We have HIV/AIDS counseling because people are having to deal with the trauma of having this disease. What we are doing also is — once people adjust to dealing with the illness and get it under control with the drugs — is get back into their life, get back into the workplace.

“Colleen Dewhurst was really important in making that happen. She was president of Actors’ Equity when that all came to light, and she was also in the Actors Fund human services committee, and she believed that everybody was morally obligated to do everything they could to fight everything. She’s still a huge inspiration to all of us.”

HEALTH CARE

Programs

  • Health Insurance Resource Center

  • Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic

  • Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative

  • The Brent Varner Project (free health care for some HIV patients)

Mitchell Says…

“It’s the only full-time free health clinic for people in the arts in this country. In addition to the incredible staff there, there’s an incredible group of volunteer physicians who provide specialty healthcare for patients if they have something that can’t be dealt with at the clinic. The clinic also helps negotiate rates with hospitals (and) the other healthcare providers to get patients the healthcare they need at a price they can afford.”

HOUSING

Programs

  • Housing Resource Center

  • Aurora (N.Y. residence for low-income artists, seniors and people with AIDS)

  • Palm View (West Hollywood residence for low-income people with HIV/AIDS)

  • Lillian Booth Home (assisted-living and skilled-nursing facility)

  • Schermerhorn House (200-unit “green” housing; under construction in Brooklyn)

Mitchell Says…

“When you have a community that’s strong in the arts, it brings all sorts of attention and different businesses into the community. People love artists, whether it’s visual artists, performing artists; it attracts other kinds of business around them. It gives a neighborhood and a building a kind of prestige. It’s been said that artists are the conscience of a society. I think that’s why people are attracted to artists in general.”

CAREER

Programs

  • Actors Work Program

  • AIDS Training and Education Program

Mitchell Says…

“It’s nearly impossible to make a living in the arts. We help people develop second or parallel careers so they can do something more satisfying than waiting on tables. People in the performing arts have a lot of other skills they don’t realize they can utilize, and part of what the Actors Fund program is there to do is wake their head up to realize there are other things they can do.”

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