If you’re a Jersey guy or girl, Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen are the two go-to guys for music in the Garden State. Both have never forgotten their roots and both have had enormous long-term success in a business known for chewing up and spitting out more newcomers and one-hit wonders than you can imagine. While I love the music of both, I particularly admire the charitable work that Jon Bon Jovi is and has been doing for a very long time and with very little self-promotion or self-congratulation.
Jon Bon Jovi and his bandmates (Richie Sambora, Tico Torres and David Bryan) have been performing for 30 years and are releasing their twelfth album (and the first in four years) entitled What About Now in late March. And the songs on that album are sung in the voices of ordinary people who are struggling financially due to America’s economic crisis over the last few years.
But Jon Bon Jovi is not just a guy who sings about the troubles of others. He’s someone who steps up to the plate and does a lot of good for a lot of people. In 2006, the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation was formed to “combat issues that force families and individuals into economic despair”. And to that end, the Bon Jovi foundation has accomplished quite a lot.
In 2011, Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea Bongiovi, started the non-profit JBJ Soul Foundation Soup Kitchen in Red Bank, New Jersey. The restaurant dishes up healthy, delicious, and organic meals to anyone who enters, serving from a menu that has no prices listed. If you can afford to pay, you do and if you can’t, an hour of volunteering pays for your meal. Bon Jovi told the Associated Press during an interview when the restaurant opened that when he learned 1 in 6 people in America goes to bed hungry, he thought the restaurant was the next important thing his foundation should do.
During the winter of 2011, the foundation sponsored a blanket donation campaign to be provided to their community partners that work with homeless outreach programs.
After Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, Bon Jovi participated in both the NBC-sponsored benefit concert on November 2 to benefit the American Red Cross and in the 12/12/12 concert held in Madison Square Garden to benefit the Robin Hood Relief Fund which (as of this writing) has already provided over $50 million in grants from the money raised during the concert.
In November 2012, his foundation partnered with Project H.O.M.E. in Philadelphia and celebrated the groundbreaking for JBJ Soul Homes, a mixed-use development which will include 55 apartments for people who have been homeless and for low-income adults and children.
Although Bon Jovi has long supported Democrats, he’s also proven a supporter of New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie, particularly after watching Christie’s bi-partisan work with President Obama to deal with the tremendous damage and destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy. And since 2010, the singer has served (at the request of the President) on the White House Council for Community Solutions, focusing on helping young people in need find jobs.
In this day of disposable pop stars and singers behaving badly (Kanye West, I’m talking to you), give a silent thanks for Jon Bon Jovi who gives back and who lives the lyrics of one of his most famous songs – “It’s my life. It’s now or never. I ain’t gonna live forever. I just want to live while I’m alive”. A good example for us all.