Like most celebs Jane Fonda gets a lot of requests to help charities. At Sunday’s Rape Foundation annual brunch at Ron Burkle’s Beverly Hills estate, Fonda, host of the event, said for years she had resisted appeals to join the org. “Like a lot of you I have so many causes,” she said. “I thought I can’t take on anymore.”
But that was before she toured the Rape Foundation Center and Stuart House and was so moved by its work she decided she had to join in the effort. “I’d never been at a place that figured it out from beginning to end, from intake to therapy.”
For Fonda there was also a personal connection. Going through her mother’s medical records Fonda found out that her mother had been sexually abused as a child. (Her mother committed suicide when Fonda was just 12.)
Her work with her own charity, the Georgia Center for Adolescent Power and Potential, showed her how many teens had been victims of sexual abuse.
“I have a lot on my plate, but I’ll support this to the end of my days,” Fonda ended on a rousing note that had attendees on their feet, including Sam Waterston and Viola Davis.
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Fonda was introduced by Lily Tomlin who said she was going to “give just the facts, put on your Ray-Bans and stand back amazed” at Fonda’s life.
She reeled off the accomplishments of her “friend and go-to guru” who “gets so much because she gives so much.”
Later Gail Abarbanel, founder of the Rape Foundation, introduced a few of the faces that have been helped by the center and Stuart House. This was clearly a regular feature of the brunch, now in its 40th year. One was the mother of a girl who had been not only sexually abused but then became a news fixture in Steubenville, Ohio, because members of its football team were involved.
“I advocate human compassion because without it we are nothing,” she said.
Another speaker was the victim of campus rape, who fought back and made sure that the perpetrator was expelled. The third was a college junior who had been rescued from her home and an abusive father.
At the end Eric McCormack and MC David Schwimmer exhorted the crowd to contribute for a bigger Stuart House. “I usually go after the billionaires while the rest of you sneak out,” McCormack said. But this time he wanted everyone to give something, from the billionaires who pitched in $100,000 to smaller folks who were asked to give anything even “$5 or $10.” In all $750,000 was raised.