Why create this blog?

Why did I create this blog???

I’ve created it in order to collect articles and video that exclusively chronicles and celebrates Michael's charitable work...with NO annoying advertising flashing in the periphery! I’ll also be including articles and video on how he has inspired others that have asked themselves “what more can I give?” Michael Jackson is a remarkable individual and has affected the lives of millions directly and indirectly through his music, dance, video, and his vision. The most significant part of that vision was his simple need to do his part to make this a better world. Hopefully Michael inspires you to do the same! Thank you. - Sandy

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Oprah interview: Lisa Marie In Her Own Words

Lisa and Michael during genuinely happier times.

This article addresses my thoughts on Lisa Marie Presley's recent interview with Oprah. So forgive me for wandering off the primary topic of this blog which is to celebrating Michael's humanitarian work.

Oprah's interview with Lisa Marie (Presley) Lockwood, October 21, 2010

I've just finished seeing LMP's interview with Oprah, reading various posts and various comments about the interview. All of which I empathize with although don't always agree with. (I couldn't see it during the week due to other obligations.) This was an interview I ended up having mixed feelings about and at times even letting out a big "UGH!," and "NO Lisa! Please don't say that!" At other times I was moved to tears when she said something touching and endearing about Michael.

Something that I can be faulted for is wanting very much to believe the best in people. (This is an area I very much feel I have a common connection with Michael.) This is true with my attitude toward LMP. I believe that she has matured and does have a better understanding of her own feelings and actions regarding Michael, and may even understand him better as she says. As truthbtold2all said, "I'm just not convinced that she's a bad person with an agenda," and that "I do not feel or see much negative coming from her in this interview. I see a lot of love for Michael. I like her, appreciate her perspective." I very much agree with this assessment.

Also, I wanted to try and see her through Michael's eyes. A bit of a reach I know, since I'm not a man, so here goes. Lisa was the one person that I think Michael ever really opened up to and allowed himself to be completely vulnerable with. IMO, I don't think he ever had that kind of relationship again. LMP also acknowledged that she felt that she was the only women he had that kind of relationship with. He did very much love her, I have no doubt, and in 2005 seemed to want to know if she still loved him. I also think it is clear that he was reaching out for emotional support and a shoulder to cry on. Nothing wrong with that. I don't fault him for this. The issue addressed in the trial was the same type of issue she gave him moral support on many years yearlier, unfortunately she wasn't in a place where she could be emotionally available to him in 2005 and she more or less said as much. UGH. I feel she does regret this. (The timing of the 2005 phone call is not given, but considering the gravity of the trial, the phone call could have taken place at anytime during that year.) Anyway, her mention of this phone call left a lump in my throat which I'm sure is nothing compared to how this memory must affect her.

As I watched her interview, with the large vase of sunflowers just behind and between she and O, I felt that I was watching a personal, one-on-one therapy session, minus the tears and tissues. IMO, she is clearly still trying to process her feelings and was relying on Oprah to help her to do that. Hence the leading questions. The thing that I've noticed (we've all noticed) about LMP over the years is that she is very good at using certain tools or masks to protect herself emotionally. Aloofness, "attitude," coolness, distance, indifference, etc. We all have defense mechanisms so this is not meant as a criticism. In past interviews, that aloofness and coolness were on full display especially when she was being asked dumb questions. (Diane Sawyer and Oprah were some of the worst!!) Those masks, if you will, were set aside to some degree for this interview. MABELA,5050 had commented that the indifference seems to still be there. Perhaps. However, I saw nervousness along with a conscious effort to be relaxed, which ended up looking un-relaxed with her fidgeting. I do the same thing during job interviews!! Yikes!! She's never been comfortable in this setting and I feel the apparent "indifference" on her part had more to do with interview anxiety. At the end she states that this is the only interview she will do regarding Michael and it seemed like this was something that she felt she had to get out of the way in order to move on. Very understandable.

Oprah has obviously gone to great lengths to build a relationship with LMP with activities, such as a hiking trip, to at least appear to be a safe and trustworthy person for her to talk too. (I'm seeing Oprah as more of a wolf in sheep’s clothing who lulled LMP into a false sense of security!) For the most part I was alright with the interview until the topic of the child abuse allegations and alleged drug use came up. At that point I was VERY uncomfortable and perhaps became too focused on those issues. (I've had to view the interview again so I can focus on the other things Lisa talked about.) I can't get over this obsession Oprah has with those 2 issues regarding Michael, especially the first issue. I'm still convinced it has to do with deep seated resentments that she harbors due to unpleasant things that happened in her childhood (I have compassion for her regarding this) that of course had nothing to do with Michael Jackson but everything to do with her view of him (I have no compassion for her regarding this). She lasers right into those subjects like a hawk perusing its prey. She just won't let go! Oprah, let it go!! Accept the fact that this man is innocent of what you so want him to be guilty of. Again, this is my personal perception of her attitude toward Michael.

Back to LMP, there were several moments in the interview that made me cringe. (That made all of us cringe I'm sure.) The worst was the "I wasn't in the room" comment which made me almost fall out of my chair. I felt that she was telling me that despite saying she didn't see any wrong behavior, she was also telling me, in the same breath, that she doubted her ex-husband's innocence. UGH!!! I'm sure that wasn't what she meant but I wanted to reach into my laptop and say, "Lisa, please, please, please don't say that...you're feeding the piranha with their favorite food, innuendo and doubt!" For certain individuals, that's the only part of the interview they will pay attention to. They will harp on it endlessly. I felt it was a serious mistake for her to comment on the Gavin issue at all without even a breath taken to acknowledge Michael's acquittal on all counts during his 2005 trial. Although, I have to remind myself that we don't know what was left on the "cutting room floor," so to speak. She may very well have said this in an outtake.

The second biggest cringe moment for me was her certainty when she said she thought Michael was "as high as a kite" in the Bashir trash-u-mentary. I have to remind myself that this is her opinion only, not a statement of fact regarding Michael. The one thing I was glad that she did was say how "nasty" the editing was for that slanderous piece of garbage. I wanted her to trash it even more!

Which brings me to what I wanted to see more from her in the interview that I felt was lacking. Before I do that, I need to add this disclaimer and that is to recognize fully that she is recounting her story and she needs to tell it her way. I do respect that and I mean no disrespect to Lisa. At the end of the day, it's not my place, nor anyone else's, to tell her how to tell her story. My insertion here is just me thinking out loud as you will be able to tell since I use the word "I" lot in the coming paragraphs. Be patient with me!!! Here goes...

I wanted so much for her to defend him more and talk more about his humanitarianism. She saw his concern for others in her marriage as they visited sick children in hospitals together. I've read other interviews with her where she said that she very much enjoyed this. I wanted to hear her share this again. She speaks of how "intoxicating" he was for her "like a drug" and how much she loved simply standing beside him and "taking care of him." (Holy Mother of Jesus, I would have been the same way!!!) Also, this idea that she understands him more now and, although it comes across as very dramatic, realizes now that he DID love her and in fact it DID take his death for that realization to take hold. UGH! As hard as that is to take, I believe her. For me, talking about that realization in a public way, like she was, would have brought tears to my eyes. But then again, she's already done a lot of crying in the past year+. Along with the tears I'm sure there has been a great deal of emotional processing and re-evaluation. I took note of her comment on how patient her current husband has been regarding this issue. I applaud him although I'm sure he is anxious to see this phase in her life pass.



Although she did acknowledge this issue, I wanted to hear her comment more on her own naiveté in regard to trying to "save him" from the issues she saw at the time. I empathized with her concerning her own sense of not having done enough in even just little things like calling Michael up and saying "how are you?" (Preferably without it degrading into an argument which didn't seem to be possible for a long time.) When you're "in the moment," things aren't clear. She was very caught up in her own emotions, and as she said, she was "scattered" in her attention. Although in this regard she was primarily referring to her lack of attentiveness emotionally with her two eldest children, she was clearly that way with Michael too. I respected her for her honesty in acknowledging this.

Concerning other issues that came up; the proposal, the 4 year post-divorce relationship, the infamous public "kiss," the "retaliatory" Debbie Rowe pregnancy, the first husband inexplicably being on vacation with she and Michael(?!?), not knowing what to do with issues Michael expressed concerning his catalog and estate, the casket issue, her new found understanding of Michael. I won't comment on all of these since I'm taking up allot of space already. Forgive me for that!

I had concerns with what Josie had accurately noted and that was why LMP's story changed concerning the "kiss" issue. As has been noted, in the past she was reported to have said she didn't know the "kiss" was going to happen. In the 2010 version of events, she did know. My amateur analysis tells me that her story back then was a way to hurt and isolate Michael due to her own hurt feelings. A childish thing to do if, and only if, my assessment is correct. She should be far enough removed from those feelings so I feel her story now is the most accurate one.

As for the "retaliatory" Debbie Rowe pregnancy, I'm considering two elements to this. First, Michael was genuinely upset that Lisa was dragging her feet on this issue and then being defiant about it especially when there didn't appear to be an issue to begin with. I can't blame him for being upset. Second, Michael is in his mid to late 30's at this point so it is understandable that he would want to start his own family right away. I think it's clear he didn't want to be starting a family in his 40's or later although certainly he wasn't opposed to increasing the size of his family later on. Hence the "if you won't, she will" comment regarding Debbie Rowe. This is such a difficult issue to comment on so I won't go any further with it. The one thing I will say is that despite the complicated beginings, Michael has 3 beautiful and bright children to carry on his legacy.

On another issue, the idea that her ex-husband, Danny Keough, was on vacation with them at any time left me speechless. I'm not understanding that one at all. The only way I can put my head around that is due to the children she and Danny had together. If she felt Michael was so "intoxicating," why continue to associate with her ex other than for the children. But for him to go on vacation with them? Huh?

To expand on this further, as I mentioned, this is a concept that is beyond my comprehension. Michael would have every right to be upset, no, down right livid is more like it! In the recent Oprah interview, Lisa said that Michael disappeared for a couple of weeks in light of this and she "couldn't find him." The conclusion I drew from this intrusion was the ex's possible distrust of Michael around his two young children. The '93 allegations were still fresh in everyone's memory and I would imagine that no matter what Lisa said to the contrary, this guy may have bought into the lies, and not trusted Michael. I wonder if their were any direct conflicts between Michael and the ex during this time? How did Lisa feel about Michael being around her children? In interviews that I've read/listened to with Lisa in the past, she said that Michael doted on her children and that she was totally at ease with them being around Michael.

As for O's question concerning LMP standing by Michael's casket I have to go back to truthbtold2all's comment when she said, "I was glad she skirted Oprah's question about standing next to Michael's casket. That's how I see her answer - she avoided, didn't want to tell the world. A wise and very personal choice in my opinion." That's my opinion too. Although instead of the long awkward pause, I wish she had just stated how personal that moment was and express her desire to keep it to herself. Again, I recognize I am being an armchair-quarterback here and I can't know what she is feeling. What she did say about this issue that stood out for me is that she was the last one standing by his casket and that she didn't want to leave him. I felt that and it brought tears to my eyes.

At the end of the interview, part of me wanted to distance myself from her again but not entirely, especially since her blog post from last year drew me in. I still find that post incredibly moving and it changed the way I viewed Lisa Marie. I do feel that she cares for Michael and that long supressed feelings have been brought to the surface as a result of his death. I believe this has been a difficult year for her. I think that she is still on a journey of re-evaluating her relationship with him and how her own actions affected him, not just the other way around. I do feel that she said perhaps too much on certain very controversial issues. I wish I could ask her about that and if she feels her comments might hurt Michael in Murray's trial and any other trial that emerges. In the end, although I was left speechless with certain parts of the interview, there were other parts that did move me greatly. Some in other places have commented on being suspicious of Lisa during this interview, my final take is that my suspicions still lie primarily with Oprah and NOT Lisa.

Lisa has matured. She is in a different place in her life and is able to reflect on her past relationship in a way that she couldn't before.

Thank you Lisa, for your honesty and insight. Thank you for letting us get to know and perhaps understand Michael, the human being, a little better.

Thank you for your patients with me and my long comment as I am still processing this interview.

Peace and love to all.

Lisa Marie as a very small child. Awwwwwww!!

In a moment of reflection.

Very sweet!!!!! Michael Jackson as a baby.

The Dangerous tour (June 27, 1992, to November 11, 1993)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How Did Michael Jackson Inspire Me? Prt 2

Lisa Harding - Canada (2008)

Dear Michael,

For years now I have has so much respect for the man you are and will always be. Your life has made me want to be the best I can be always. You, my friend, truly are a man of influence. I have made my life complete now by doing this work I do with love in my heart for the world and all its people – So thank you Michael from the bottom of my heart for helping me be all I can be.

Lisa Harding - Canada

Lisa Harding is not new to NGOs, she’s the cheerful and talented Canadian Activist behind Justice for Victims of Violence (JVOV).

Lisa founded JFVOV after her husband was murdered in December 1990. And seven years ago, JVOV was temporarily rested after she had a back surgery. But recently the support group took off again in full force.

JVOV’s activities include but not limited to creating seminars for youth on violent crimes and helping victims and their families.

JVOV’s mission is to get their messages across the world for as Lisa says, violence has no borders.

Lisa Harding is also a talented poet and is currently taking a course in Police Sciences.
Finally, Lisa says “I am asking all of you who read this to please help us. If you are or know someone who has been a victim of violence please contact JVOV.”

Below is a poem by Lisa for Children Africa

Children Fighting For Life
Most children do not have to fight for life
There God Given Right, to Live a Happy Life
But So Many Children Living in Africa
Are in the Fight of There Life, Simply for life
Such a Sad Sight to See
Young Faces Filled with Darkness
Where There Should be Light
Living Each Day in a Fight For Life
For the Simple Things, That So Many Children
Take for Granted, And Rightly So
Each and Every Child, Has the God Given Right
To Live a Life With Out Fear!!! Never Should They Shed a Tear
Knowing That There Basic Needs, Will Be A Given
Needs Such as Food, Clothes, Shelter, Health, Family and Friends
Sweet Dreams, of Love, Laughter and Hope
A Life With Unlimited Possibilities
A New and Exciting Adventure Everyday
Discovering New Life with in Themselves
As They Learn to Love, Laugh and Play
Skipping Stones Along The Way
Enjoying There Sounds of Laughter and Play
As They Live each New Day.! In A Fairy Tale Way
Singing and Dancing there Days Away
In There Own Special Way
This Is Each Childs, God Given Right
Will You Please Help Put An End
To Children Who Have To Fight
Every Day Just For Life Never Knowing What
There Tomorrow Will Bring
Let Us Teach Them To Love and Sing
Help Put A Sparkle In There Eyes
And A Smile On There Faces
Then We Can Thank God
And The Whole Human Race
For Making This World A Better Place
For All God’s Children And There Right To
A Safe and Happy Life
Just Help Put A Smile On One Childs Face
Then You Can Call Yourself
A Caring Member of ‘The Human Race’
Don’t Leave It Up To Someone Else
Too Put Hope for a Better Tomorrow
In The Heart of One Childs Life
This Christmas You Can Help Make A Change In One Childs Life
Your Donation Can Save A Childs Life



How Did Michael Jackson Inspire Me? Prt 1

Tinkerbell - UK (2008)

Well, where do I begin…

Coming from a childhood of abuse, I always told myself if Michael can, so can I, and the fact I’ve always been known to help others before myself.

As a young girl, if I saw someone in need I would help them.

But my first big test came in 1998 as I tried to help get people to join the Heal the World Foundation and was given the name Heal the World girl. As well as doing two 24 hour fasts to raise money for World Vision as a charity raise awareness about Africa.

From 1998 - 2001 I helped my church raise money for it charity Hope Worldwise. Helping them raise money to build children’s homes, villages, hospitals and help fund churches in India and China. As well as getting homeless people off the streets of London, by reaching out to them with food and having a good old talk.

As a veggie since the age of 13 years, I don’t like to see animals be hurt or used badly in any form, so I helped to get animal labs closed down and still trying with Huntington.

Between 1998 - 2001 I sponsored my first child living in Uganda via Plan International UK, paying £12 a month so that she could go to school, have clothes to wear and food to eat.. 2001 - Present I sponsored another child from Brazil.

I believe if I help a child poorer then myself, then someone from above will give me with what I need to survive day to day.

As a eco - warrior I think that recycling is very imported to do. Now that I have a family of my own I try to teach why it’s important to save our dying planet.

As Michael keeps saying Heal the World!

I still help out for the Britsh Heart Foundation as much as I can, when I get a day free.
As the saying goes…Heal our planet for our children’s, children and their childrens, children.


The Tinkerbell - UK


One for the ages: Michael Jackson inspired humanity to believe in itself

One for the ages: Michael Jackson inspired humanity to believe in itself
June 29th, 2009 1:21 am
by Marv Dumon
Business and Finance Examiner

The recent and untimely passing of Michael Jackson has brought a profound sorrow and grief to many around the world. To most around the world . . .
His loss is deeply felt, by those he touched, and by those who sought to touch him.

While I aspire to be the best writer, scribe, and thinker that I can possibly be, my expressions on a virtual paper that is a computer screen is likely to fall far, far short of what Michael meant to many people in our global village. In comparison to the greatest entertainer of all time, even my open-minded imagination fails in adequate depiction.
The explanations as to why he was important and ground-breaking in social terms, for civilization, is worthy of lengthy, lengthy scrolls. College classes will be taught about him; songs will offer praise. As fans mourn, either outwardly or in their quiet and private recesses, more will yet discuss the many dimensions of this man-example: the child musical prodigy, the abusive household, the driven and dysfunctional family, the perfectionist, the racial and cultural transcendent, the father, the man, the artist.

The Uber Artist

He was the Uber, Uber Artist.

He, in his own right, was a leader. By following his own voice, calling, sense of destiny, and imagination, he ultimately lead. The masses followed. The sea of humanity in his concerts cried at the sight, sound, and awe-inspiring performance. They thundered rhythm, movements, voice inflections, subtlety that was never seen or heard or will never be seen or heard ever, by anything or anyone on this earth. It was not just a once-in-a-lifetime uniqueness. It will never be seen again, except for the poor substitute of re-runs and replays.

In the past 2 or 3 generations, from the past 30 years, perhaps only 5 other super-individuals rose to heights and moved people in similar ways that Michael Jackson did.

Pope John Paul II
Ronald Reagan
Michael Jordan
Nelson Mandela
Manny Pacquiao
(#1 boxer Filipino)

One offered spiritual freedom, religious inspiration, and defied a Communist empire - that most oppressive of systems that de-humanized people. After receiving a bullet in an assassination attempt, he forgave his would-be assassin.

One lead and inspired the United States, a superpower in a great Cold War and economic struggle. He refreshed the minds of many by advocating principles and values that were right, powerful, true, and timeless.

One exerted his physical and mental abilities to the utmost on the hardwood floor, with zeal that made him the greatest basketball player of all time. Championship after championship, MVP after MVP, he was the athlete that rose to unhampered heroism, giving hope to kids, young adults, and sports fans.

One spent several decades in a South African jail, and upon release, became the president of his people, who defeated decades of apartheid and racial injustice - a global leader. His was the greatest test of patience and purpose.

And one spent his early childhood in desperate poverty, who in impossible circumstances, became the greatest prize fighter in the world and one of the best boxers of all time. His national following is as heightened with fervor and intensity as any who has ever climbed the peak of heroics and idolatry.

Michael Jackson

With Michael Jackson, his electricity on stage defined phenomenal. He made everyone believe in the impossible, that magic was indeed part of the common standard.

He united the world by making people forget about the Cold War, nuclear weapons, of national boundaries. People were just people - fellow human beings - through his music, discovering something about themselves; exploring something about the expressions of the ether and universe.

His music gyrated our soul - and our being. His spirit transcended genres. It was undefinable, and un-utterable.


Michael Jackson: Triumph and Tragedy

Michael Jackson: Triumph and Tragedy
Thursday, July 9, 2009
By Linda Grasse, Santa Ynez
Santa Barbara Independent.

We all feel such a sense of loss and sorrow at the passing of such a gifted and talented artist. He blazed his own trail in dance and music with his talent withstanding the test of time. Michael just made you want to sing and dance, which was perhaps his greatest gift to us. His career and accumulated body of work are the most documented, photographed, filmed and recorded in history. In that regard he will, like Elvis before him, and Marilyn Monroe, continue to entertain us and bring joy into our world each time we watch his videos or listen to his music. He is a cultural icon. We owe him an immeasurable debt of gratitude for the joy and laughter he has brought into our lives.

His life's work as a philanthropist is exemplary and includes support for over 30 charitable organizations including the Make-a-Wish Foundation, USA for Africa, the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, Heal the World Foundation, Wishes Granted Organization, Boys & Girls Clubs, the DARE program, YMCA, NAACP, United Negro College Fund, and the Michael Jackson UNCF Endowed Scholarship Fund.

On behalf of these and other charities he helped raise over $300 million. In addition he has donated over $50 million of his personal fortune over the years, but even more importantly spent generously of his time visiting cancer patients and burn victims at hospitals around the world. If he learned of a child in pain or suffering whom he could help, he did. While visiting a hospital in Budapest he met a 4-year-old boy desperately needing a liver transplant. This child had been abandoned by his mother and had lived in the hospital his entire life. Touched by his plight, Michael and his wife, Lisa Marie, visited the boy for hours and then pledged funds from Heal the World Foundation to cover all expenses related to the boy's transplant.

In 1985 he co-wrote the song We are the World with Lionel Richie and helped organize an amazing collaboration of 44 artists to record the song and create the video to raise funds to feed starving children in Africa. The hit single Heal the World and later the Heal the World Tour were such successful fundraising events that it is estimated these projects alone raised in excess of $100 million for the charity USA for Africa. He was involved with Hands across America, a human chain of 7 million people extending across the continental United States. In 2000, the Guinness Book of World Records listed him as the pop star supporting the most charities. He was only 42 years old.

Michael's professional accomplishments are well documented. His philanthropic works were something for which he kept a relatively low profile. He did it from his heart because he was a kind and loving person who genuinely loved children.

He wrote Gone Too Soon for Ryan White, a pediatric AIDS patient suffering not just from a new and frightening disease but society's fear and ignorance of it. Ryan contracted the disease through tainted blood transfusions; Michael welcomed him to his home at Neverland after Ryan was banned from school.

After Michael suffered serious burns from an accident while working on a Pepsi commercial, he donated his $1.5 million insurance settlement to a burn center for children. In 1984 he visited children in the unit for burn victims at Brotman-Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles and also donated funds for a 19-bed unit at Mount Sinai New York Medical Center for leukemia and cancer research. He welcomed sick and dying children to his own home at Neverland Ranch, a fairy-tale land as depicted in the story Peter Pan. A 14-year-old boy suffering from cystic fibrosis was invited to Michael's home as the boy's dying wish. Michael spent time with terminally ill children backstage while on tour, and visited a 12-year-old who was terribly burned by his father in an act of revenge against his former wife. His willingness to help these children was heartwarming.

He created the Michael Jackson UNCF Endowed Scholarship Fund in 1985, a fund for students majoring in performance art and communication, providing money each year to students attending a UNCF member college or university. In February 1986 he heard that one of his biggest fans, a 14-year-old girl, had just undergone open heart surgery, so he called her and invited her to Neverland for dinner and a movie when she was feeling better. She was able to visit on March 8 of that year. The value of her smiles and laughter: priceless. It was simply another act of kindness by this generous man.

He supported the work of the NAACP particularly as it related to prejudice against black artists and donated many personal items for charitable auctions to raise funds for the education of children in developing countries. The proceeds from sales of the record Man in the Mirror were donated to Camp Ronald McDonald, a camp for children who suffer from cancer. In 1988 he presented a $600,000 check to the United Negro College Fund and donated tickets for three concerts in Atlanta, Georgia to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Somehow that year he found the time and energy to visit the Bambini-Gesu Children's Hospital in Rome to sign autographs and give candy to the children and donated 100,000 pounds to the hospital. He visited terminally ill children at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. While visiting a unit for less critical patients he stayed longer than usual and told the children a story. On his 30th birthday he performed a concert in Leeds, England for the charity Give for Life, to help fund the immunization of children, and presented the charity with a check for 65,000 pounds.

In 1989 he made a compassionate visit to Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California, where a few weeks earlier a 25-year-old madman had fired at the school's playground, killing 5 children and wounding 39 others. A horrible, senseless act of violence followed by a genuine act of kindness. He also invited 200 underprivileged children from the St. Vincent Institute for handicapped children and Big Brothers/Big Sisters to the Circus Vargas in Santa Barbara and then to his home in the Santa Ynez Valley to see his private zoo. Later that year he worked with the Wishes Granted organization to help a 4-year-old boy suffering from leukemia fulfill his wish of meeting Michael, and invited the little boy to a performance of Canadian acrobats.

In support of the Childhelp organization, Michael invited 82 abused and neglected children to Neverland for a barbeque, games, and a movie in 1990. He did the same for Project Dream Street, L.A. to help children with life threatening illnesses. He also hosted an event for 130 children in the YMCA's summer program of Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.

Always sensitive to social issues of poverty, hunger, and homelessness he paid a visit in 1991 to the Youth Sports & Art Foundation in Los Angeles which supports families of gang members dealing with drug-abuse. He talked to the children and presented them with a wide-screen TV and a financial gift. In December his office, MJJ Productions, provided 200 turkey dinners to needy families in Los Angeles.

He spent 11 days in Africa in February, 1992 traveling over 30,000 miles to visit hospitals, orphanages, schools, churches, and institutions for mentally handicapped children. Later that year he held a press conference at New York Radio City Music Hall to announce that he was planning a new world tour to raise funds for his Heal the World Foundation. This Foundation would support the fight against AIDS, Juvenile Diabetes, Camp Ronald McDonald, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

He quietly and compassionately defrayed the funeral expenses for Ramon Sanchez, who was killed during the Los Angeles riots, and the following year announced that he would donate $1.25 million for children who had suffered as a result of the riots.

He made large donations to the poor and needy in Munich, Germany and donated tour earnings of 400,000 pounds to charities in Dublin, Ireland. He visited children at the Sophia Children's Hospital in Rotterdam, presenting them with a check for 100,000 pounds. To the delight of the children at the Queen Elizabeth Children's Hospital in London, he visited with Mickey and Minnie Mouse from Euro-Disney.

In November, 1992, Michael helped supervise the loading of 43 tons of medication, blankets and winter clothes destined for Sarajevo, a war-ravaged country where children were being targeted by snipers. His charity, Heal the World Foundation, collaborated with AmeriCares to deliver supplies and resources totaling $2.1 million to Sarajevo, to be allocated under the supervision of the United Nations. He held a press conference in Tokyo at the American Embassy and presented a check for $100,000 from Pepsi, his tour sponsor, to Heal the World Foundation.

Throughout the 1990s Micheal continued to donate his time and energy to supporting children's charities all over the world. He invested millions of dollars building a children's retreat and amusement park with rides and a zoo at Neverland in an effort to "bring people happiness and remind him of the good things in life."

He continued to support the Boys & Girls Clubs and the DARE program amongst dozens of others. He was instrumental in Pepsi-Cola International. donating new ambulances to the Contacts One Independent Living Center for Children in Moscow and the Hospital de Ninos run by Dr. Ricardo Gutierrez in Buenos Aires. Deeply affected by conditions in impoverished nations, he donated part of his History Tour earnings to the renovation of a hospital in Manila and waved his personal fee for a Bombay appearance, donating $1.1 million to a local charity to help educate children living in slums.

Exclusive photographs of his son Prince were published in British magazine OK! and the 1 million pounds paid by the magazine were donated to charity. In 1998, while at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, Michael was introduced to a 5-year-old suffering from cancer. He spent the afternoon with the child and went with him to the "Star Trek: The Experience" attraction. In 1999 he presented Nelson Mandela with a check for 1,000,000 South African rand for the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.

Michael expressed his support for our troops in 2002 when he invited more than 200 Team Vandenberg members who had recently returned from overseas deployments, and their families, to Neverland to show his appreciation for the sacrifices of military personnel in his community. He performed at a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee at the Apollo Theater in Harlem helping to raise nearly $3 million towards voter registration.

How easy to say we want to change the world. He did. And he worked hard to do it. He brought immeasurable joy to children and sought to alleviate the suffering of thousands of people all over the world. It is this fact that makes the end of the life story of this exemplary humanitarian such a tragedy.

Can one even imagine the heartache it would cause such a good person, who loved children so much, to be falsely accused of hurting a child? It is obvious this man loved children in the most honest and decent way. To label him a pedophile, when he worked so tirelessly to help children and bring joy into their lives, is an unbelievable cruelty. Of all the thousands of lives he touched in such a positive way it is appalling to realize that when the rotten few attempted to extort money from him, the police and Santa Barbara County District Attorney office not only did not protect him, but turned on him and charged him with crimes that must have been the ultimate insult and most hurtful imaginable to him crimes against children.

In November 2003, over 60 sheriff's deputies and representatives of the district attorney's office, in 19 vehicles, descended on Neverland to serve a search warrant. The allegations against Michael had been made by the most unsavory of people clearly in an attempt to extort money. These people had approached him and asked for his help. When he helped them they repaid his kindness by virtually destroying his life and reputation. I read on the Internet yesterday that one of his accusers has now recanted his story. If the others have a shred of decency they will do the same. The false charges filed against Michael Jackson are another form of the police brutality so prevalent in California today.

And here lies the tragedy. We are conditioned to believe that in this great country we are "innocent until proven guilty." The truth of the matter is you are considered guilty as soon as you are charged, you are considered guilty as soon as you are arrested, you are considered guilty as soon as you enter the jail, you are considered guilty when you go to trial, and you are guilty until you prove yourself innocent.

In Michael's case, he was innocent, and found not guilty in a court of law of 9 felony charges, yet in the brutal court of public opinion he has somehow been tried and convicted. He experienced the worst character assassination of any celebrity of our generation. He has been ridiculed and scorned. He was made a public spectacle. He was a very private person humiliated by a very public trial. He was called names in the media and by the public and even now as we mourn the loss of this incredible man, the word "molestation" appears in almost every article or story about him. What a disgrace.

For such a sensitive artist and beautiful person with a kind and gentle heart this alone might have been enough to kill him.-Linda Grasse, Santa Ynez


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Janet Reineck’s World Dance Workout

(Dance and a little bit of inspiration from Michael Jackson and Janet Reineck "has found a way to combine her love of dance and world cultures with her calling in humanitarian aid. She calls it World Dance Workout." Although not directly about Michael Jackson, I wanted to include this article about how art, dance in this case, and humanitarian aid can go hand in hand.)

Janet Reineck’s World Dance Workout
Dance Class Sponsors Women in Need Worldwide
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
By Elizabeth Schwyzer (Contact)

Sixteen years ago in Rwanda, there wasn’t much dancing going on. Over the course of 100 days, 800,000 people had been murdered, and half a million women raped. Many of the survivors of the genocide were women, and in July 1994 they struggled to even imagine how they might rebuild their lives.

That same year, roused by a sense of urgency and a duty to make a difference in the world, anthropologist and world dance scholar Janet Reineck moved from California to Kosovo. While her young son Jeremy attended school, she worked in rural development for Oxfam and learned everything she could about Balkan folk dance. It was a tense time in the region, and in 1997, Reineck and her young son were forced to leave the country before war broke out. They landed in Santa Barbara, where Reineck’s passion for social justice work led her to a job with Direct Relief International. Yet something in her was not fully satisfied that she was improving the lives of people affected by war—especially women. More than a decade later, Reineck has found a way to combine her love of dance and world cultures with her calling in humanitarian aid. She calls it World Dance Workout.

On Monday night last week, I stood with 12 other women and one young man in the spacious front studio of the Santa Barbara Dance Center. Our reflection in the wall-to-wall mirrors revealed a motley crew, ranging from early twenties to late sixties, from slender to full-bodied. Some of us wore tennis shoes; others padded across the polished floorboards in bare feet. In an electric turquoise tank top, her blond hair pulled into a girlish ponytail, 55-year-old Reineck strode to the front of the room, welcomed everyone to World Dance Workout, and called for a round of introductions. “There are some classes where it’s hard to break in if you’re new,” she told the first-timers. “It’s not like that here.”

This class, Reineck went on to explain, was about having fun, working up a sweat, and learning dances from around the world in a safe environment where nobody cared whether you got the moves “right.” This class was about building community, and not just inside the studio. Reineck keeps her fee low—at $10, it’s one of the most affordable dance classes in town—and once she’s paid for the studio rental, she dedicates the rest of her earnings to women in post-war societies. So far, World Dance Workout is sponsoring four women through Women for Women International: Debora Yal Madiu in Sudan, Zakira Mihaljevic in Bosnia, Josephine Nyirantirenganya in Rwanda, and Judith Ifesinachi Eje in Nigeria. Each sponsorship represents a commitment of $27 per month for one year. The recipients receive part of that monthly donation in cash, while the rest goes to services that directly benefit her, from job training to trauma counseling.

Introduction finished, Reineck put on the first track, and Michael’s Jackson’s voice soared from the sound system. “It don’t matter if you’re black or white,” he crooned. At the front of the room, Reineck took a wide stance, bending and straightening her legs and circling her shoulders up and back. Soon, everyone in the room was following suit, swaying side to side with arms swinging, then weaving right and left in a fast-paced grapevine, then bopping up and down like prancing ponies. Next came a salsa number, followed by an Irish step dance (“It’s Riverdance!” Reineck cried), and then an Albanian circle dance that included improvisation. With each new dance came laughter—not self-conscious giggling, but the kind of head-thrown-back laughter that arises from pure pleasure. From the beginners to the most loyal students, everyone was having a blast.

Santa Barbara Dance Center owner David Alvarez sees that enthusiasm. He has been so inspired by Reineck’s vision and by the success of her class that he’s planning to start his own sponsorship through Women for Women, and encourages other instructors to do the same. “The people coming to her class are so excited because they’re doing more than paying for a dance class; they’re changing women’s lives,” he said. “I think it’s wonderful.” Social science researcher Cindy Iliff, who’s been taking Reineck’s class since it started in March, said knowing her $10 is going to a woman in need transforms her experience of working out. “This is so much more than a dance class,” she said. “We’re giving back to women.” Relative newcomer Sheryl Troy echoed Iliff’s sentiment. “There are so many dance classes to choose from in Santa Barbara,” she noted. “This class is not just about moving your body; it’s more global, because there are these women we are supporting in other countries in the world, and that means a lot.”

The day after class, I went online to learn more about Women for Women. On their Web site, I discovered a short film documenting the impact of the nonprofit’s work in post-war Rwanda. At the end of the film there’s footage of Rwandan women gathering in the fields they’ve learned to farm, thanks to the support of Women for Women. In bright patterned dresses and bare feet, they weave through rows of crops, singing and dancing.


Michael Jackson - A True Humanitarian

Calerami January 18, 2008 YouTube.com

"You can find a detailed list of most of Michael Jackson's charity work here


I made this video to show people just how much Michael Jackson has done for others all over the planet. He visits childrens hospitals and orphanages all over the world, spending thousands of dollars on toys for the sick in an effort to show these children that someone out there does, indeed, care. He has donated millions of dollars to charity and has helped raise millions more. He has opened his home to thousands upon thousands of underprivileged and terminally ill children. Michael Jackson is a true humanitarian, and I feel it is time, for us to acknowledge his generosity.

I hope you like it..."