Jon Bon Jovi will celebrate his longstanding philanthropic relationship with Samsung Electronics America, Inc. tonight (Nov. 2) with the Samsung Charity Gala at the Skylight Clarkson Square in New York. Bon Jovi, Flo-Rida, Hunter Hayes and DJ Livia are all set to perform at the annual event, which brings together luminaries from across the worlds of entertainment and business to help raise awareness for a variety of important social and charitable programs, with the primary goal of raising funds to help people build brighter futures.
Just before Jon Bon Jovi took the stage at Bette Midler’s annual Hulaween Gala earlier this week, the Divine Miss M took a moment to praise the rocker for his philanthropic work and commitment to fighting poverty through his Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation. Speaking to Variety, Bon Jovi talked about his lengthy partnership with Samsung, which began in 2005. The New Jersey native was one of the “original four guys” to join Samsung’s Four Seasons of Hope, a year-round good will program that centers its efforts on raising awareness and funds for charities. The program has worked with golf’s Arnold Palmer, football’s Boomer Esiason, baseball’s Joe Torre and basketball’s Magic Johnson, among others.
“When I started the team, Samsung were our first actual donor,” he says. “They gave us money all those years ago before we addressed the homelessness and hunger issue, while we were still being Robin Hood, all things to all people.”
In 2006, Bon Jovi stepped up with the establishment of his Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, creating programs providing food and affordable housing for those affected by poverty and homelessness, while supporting social services and job-training programs. Samsung got on board immediately, and “since then it’s been a longstanding relationship,” he says. “When they called, I said yes.”
The Soul Foundation created over 500 units of affordable housing and shelter in 10 states for thousands of homeless or low-income people. In October 2011, the Foundation opened the JBJ Soul Kitchen Community Restaurant in Red Bank, N.J. to address issues of food insecurity. The community kitchen serves nutritious meals in a restaurant atmosphere, providing food for a clientele that includes in-need diners who can work volunteer hours in return. The JBJ Soul Kitchen, which includes a second location in Toms River, also runs the Employment and Empowerment Team (EET) Program, connecting a team of professionals with qualified volunteers.
Bon Jovi maintains that Samsung’s commitment to partner with charities and focus on social responsibility — like Flo-Rida’s “Big Dreams for Kids” and Hayes restoration of a Nashville school for the arts — is integral as it is not always easy to secure funding.
“There are only so many shows I can do to put into it,” he says. “To have a corporate sponsor like that definitely helps.”
As for the JBJ Soul Kitchen, Bon Jovi is happy to report the new Toms River location is “going great,” and his wife Dorothea is often on hand overseeing operations. “The Soul Kitchen has served 75,000 meals between the two restaurants in six years,” says Bon Jovi, who disclosed that there are other plans in the works that will be revealed shortly. “It’s been fantastic.”
With the holiday season approaching, Bon Jovi notes that many people get charitable with the local Food Banks, but stressed that “Hunger is 365 days a year,” he says. “And a lot of people get very charitable around the holiday season, and believe me every food bank is grateful, because this is the time that supplies the money to keep them sustained in May and June when it’s not at the tip of your tongue. This is the time where they fill their coffers to feed people all year ‘round. This is where the money comes from —the holiday season.”
Which is why partnering with Samsung is so important, he says, as the Foundation moves forward with new goals into 2018. As is Bon Jovi the band, which is gearing up for a 2018 tour starting in the spring.
“We are planning to go out in March and we will take it from there,” he says. “I’m healthy and looking forward to it.”