‘Tis the Yuletide season when visions of charitable giving dance in your head. Wondering where to volunteer or send donations? Find inspiration in these local celebrities’ favorite organizations:
Best known as Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Jane Seymour wears many hats. The Emmy and Golden Globe winner is a big and small screen star (look for her in the features, “Just Getting Started” and “The War with Grandpa” and on TV in “Let’s Get Physical.” Also a mother, grandmother, dancer, artist, designer, entrepreneur, lecturer and author, Seymour still finds time to devote to nonprofits, and in 2010, launched her own Open Hearts Foundation.
“We call ourselves an accelerator. We support the extraordinary work of lesser known charities by raising money for them, telling their story and giving them exposure at our annual gala,” says Seymour, a board member who helps choose award recipients.
This year’s beneficiaries were the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, committed to making the disease “easy to diagnose and simple to cure,” Exceptional Minds, an animation/visual effects school for young adults on the autism spectrum, and Global Mobility USA, providing customized wheelchairs for the disabled.
The foundation’s name reflects the philosophy of Seymour’s mother. “She said life always has challenges. Your instinct is to close your heart and keep your struggles to yourself. But if you can accept what happened and open your heart, even if it means sharing with someone going through something similar, love and solutions will come. By helping others, you’ll move forward in your life,” she says.
Seymour believes philanthropy is important because everyone wants a purpose. “It’s wonderful to get in the trenches and be hands-on. If you can’t, get the word out or donate money. Philanthropy is a gift for the giver.”
Nothing like the troubled Brady Black character he portrays on “Days of our Lives,” Eric Martsolf is a family man and genuinely good guy who uses his musical theater talents to help nonprofits.
“Many of the soap opera fan events I participate in are affiliated with charities,” says the Daytime Emmy Award winner. “I respect those good souls who empathize with people in need.”
Most recently, Martsolf entertained at Magical Day of Hope, hosted by the Conejo Valley Guild of Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation/UCLA.
“I became aware of the guild through my mother-in-law, a member of the group,” says Martsolf, a father of 11-year-old twins. “They’re keeping the fight alive to eradicate cancer by raising money for research. It’s disheartening to know this disease still runs rampant. I want to leave my boys a cancer-free world someday.”
The cause is personal. “My wife had an abnormal mammogram resulting in preventive surgery this year. Thankfully her story had a happy ending, but so often for others, that’s not the case,” he says.
Martsolf finds the older you get, the more fulfilling it is to be involved.
“You learn owning high-priced items doesn’t necessarily translate to happiness and is irrelevant in the big picture,” he says. “I understand Santa Claus. It feels good to give back.”
An actress since age 8, Juliette Goglia, now 22, claims nearly 40 credits, including the daughter on “The Michael J. Fox Show” and two films, “Fog City” and “The Way You Look Tonight,” coming out next year. It was her appearances on numerous Disney Channel series that prompted her involvement with Young Storytellers, a nonprofit serving public schools primarily in Los Angeles County.
“Fifth graders write a short play with the guidance of a mentor,” says Goglia, a Westlake High School alum.
The scripts are performed by celebrity actors in the program’s “Biggest Show,” she explains. “The project gives students focus and structure, and once the scripts are brought to life, they realize their goals are attainable.”
Goglia first participated in 2012 and again a few months ago. “What a workout! I ran all over the stage, acting in 10 different scripts, playing the most imaginative and exciting characters,” she says.
Raised by a compassionate and loving family, Goglia grew up helping others and advocates for many causes.
She points out how important Young Storytellers is today when many schools are cutting arts curriculums.
“I love inspiring kids to unleash their creativity and find their voice,” she says. “It’s magical to see their joy when we perform in front of their classmates, and they get the recognition they deserve.”
Emmy Award-winner Joe Spano knows that theater can have a powerful effect on people’s lives. “My parents were children of immigrants and worked hard to achieve what they did. They came to value knowledge of and exposure to the arts as imperative to becoming human,” says Spano, best known for his television roles in “Hill Street Blues” and “NCIS.”
Also a veteran stage actor, Spano became involved with the nonprofit Rubicon Theatre Company in Ventura in 2001. “I found the folks there loving and supportive,” he says. “I love the joint!”
Spano not only performs at fundraisers but also appears in productions—currently “A Christmas Carol” and late next year in “Heisenberg.”
As a board member, he helps “our fearless leader, artistic director Karyl Lynn Burns, in her very difficult job of keeping an arts institute growing and moving forward in a difficult climate for nonprofits.”
Spano encourages people to support the Rubicon. “It’s an equity theater company, unrivaled in the area,” he says.
“We draw our artists from the best in the country. We also have an excellent and effective community outreach and educational mission.” He adds, “We need the arts more than ever! The community would be much poorer without this priceless asset.”
Even without seeing his face, when you hear Patrick Warburton’s distinctive, comedic voice, you know it’s him. He’s a busy actor in both animated and live action films and TV shows, including Puddy on “Seinfeld,” and most recently, “Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events” and the National Car Rental commercials.
Warburton and his wife, Cathy, grew up in conservative Catholic households with parents who frequently volunteered. Continuing the tradition, they looked for a cause involving children.
“About seven years ago, I attended an event that raised funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and in a classic ‘St. Jude Moment,’ we conceived the idea for The Warburton, a celebrity golf tournament,” he says.
Blessed with four healthy children, Warburton thinks there’s no greater cause than finding cures and treatments for children with catastrophic diseases. “St. Jude is the best! Once a patient, always a patient, and no family ever receives a bill,” says Warburton.
The couple has visited the hospital, located in Memphis, Tennessee. “We’ve always been touched by our interactions with the kids—they are such troopers!” he says.
Since its inception in 2011, the tournament, held in Palm Desert, has raised over $7 million and has grown to include music events.
“Philanthropy is essential to the well-being of our planet,” Warburton says. “All of our board members are volunteers. They make us look really good!”