This is the text written by Jon Bon Jovi off of which he read his remarks. Verbatim transcript may reflect minor differences from final delivered comments.
Thank you, Sister Mary Scullion, Joan Dawson McConnon, Jonathan Reckford, Jill Lajdziak and, of course, President Clinton.
Thank you all for coming. First I’d like to share with you who we are and why we are all here.
In 2003 I became the co-owner of the Arena Football League’s PHILADELPHIA SOUL (along with my partner, Craig Spencer.) From the inception of our franchise, the mission was to use the team as a way to give back to the community. Each season our directive to the staff has been to find the LOCAL CAUSES, the Father Flanagan’s, if you will… help us find the ones who fell through the cracks. Nothing was too big and no one was too small. Our desire was simply to help those in need.
PLEASE UNDERSTAND, our team is not making money – and any money we do make, we give away. But I’m very proud to say that as we head into our fourth season, we have been able to give away more than 2 MILLION DOLLARS to local causes in the name of BON JOVI and THE PHILADELPHIA SOUL.
We may have started small but we thought big. Whether it was a playground for the Northern Home for Children, beds for Covenant House, or starting a helpline for kids… the Soul were always there.
Today we’re proud to announce the creation of the Philadelphia Soul Foundation – the natural extension of the team’s philanthropic work.
In the last year and a half, the Soul and I — along with the band — have become very involved with Habitat for Humanity. Between Houma, Louisiana and here in Philadelphia, we will have given 34 families a place they could call home.
I spend a lot of time here in Philadelphia. One night while I was looking out of my hotel window I saw a homeless man sleeping in front of City Hall.
I wanted to help him.
I wanted to fix that.
I realize the homeless problem is immense. And I realize that no one has all the answers. I needed help. That’s how I came to meet SISTER MARY SCULLION and PROJECT H.O.M.E.
It was Sister Mary who educated me about the need to provide not only shelter to the homeless but education and job training – it was all about breaking the cycle. Sister Mary opened my eyes and taught me to look at all the problems that combine together to form the bigger issue that is homelessness.
For example – job training — you can’t even get a job working as a cashier at the local superstore without basic computer skills. Agencies like Project H.O.M.E. provide that job training that can take someone from a minimum wage job to just a $10.00 per hour job.
And if you don’t think that sounds like much of a difference – think again. $5.00 per hour… $40.00 per day… $200.00 per week.
That’s the difference in the quality and quantity of food you are able to feed your children.
That’s the difference in being able to pay the electric bill or the phone bill because heat, electricity and phone service are not luxuries – they are basic necessities.
Habitat for Humanity’s work speaks for itself – you’ve seen it. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the Tsunami, for example, Habitat was there – rebuilding lives. And that’s just in response to disaster. In Habitat’s 30 year history, they’ve built more than 200,000 homes… and dreams, by offering families a chance to be first-time homeowners.
The program’s successes are undeniable. But if you’re eligible for a Habitat home, you’re already at the top of the statistical heap. What about those who can’t think about making rent or even having a warm place to sleep at night?
That is where Project H.O.M.E. shines. By offering job training, education and social services, Project H.O.M.E. empowers individuals to break the cycle of homelessness. They can put them on the path to home ownership.
How do we bridge the purpose of Habitat with the PROMISE of Project H.O.M.E. ?
Well, this is why we’re here. What you see behind us is a new beginning.
For the first time, Habitat For Humanity has partnered with a local provider.
Together with support from our partners at SATURN, we are reconstructing these 15 row homes.
This will be the new model.
Here we have local service providers, Habitat for Humanity, and corporate America all working together to rebuild communities.
It is my sincere desire to see these people BECOME their community. They become the homeowners and business owners and investors in their own future, reshaping their own neighborhood. We can’t let neighborhood become a thing of the past.
The Arena Football League is about ACCESSIBILITY and AFFORDABILITY
and is PLAYED FOR AND BY PEOPLE WHO HAVE A DREAM.
That is what the SOUL is about.
That’s what this partnership is about.
We want to invite you to join our team.
The greatest social good is assisting individuals to take responsibility for themselves.
Together we can make a difference.
One soul at a time.