Jennifer Lopez
Image via Helga Esteb /

Jennifer Lopez – A heart worthy of a $27 million insurance policy

by Georgia Van Cuylenburg

My favorite celebrity philanthropists are the ones I don’t know about. The ones that are obviously driven to do the philanthropic work they do because of their heartfelt connection to a cause and a desire to make a difference that goes far beyond their desire to have their picture taken at a red carpet fundraising event.

I wouldn’t have even considered researching the philanthropic contributions of our January Soul Angel if it wasn’t for a passing comment that was made during my most recent visit to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. I remarked on the lovely Parents Room in the NICCU and one of the wonderful Foundation staff responded matter of factly, “Oh yeah Jennifer Lopez paid for it.” Hold the pager! Jennifer Lopez?! The minute I signed off my cuddling shift (that is not a joke – I am the luckiest volunteer in the world), I started looking into Jennifer Lopez and her charitable donation to one of my favorite places in the world.

What I came to find, after scrolling through all the paparazzi snaps and dating gossip, were endless accounts of her generous support for the hospital, not just financially but with her time and advocacy as well.

After happily discovering all of this, I was not surprised that in October 2009 CHLA chose to honor Jennifer at their inaugural “Noche de Niños,” a benefit for the hospital. Before the event she spoke to the media and proudly explained, “Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is a remarkable place. This top pediatric facility treats and cares for some of the sickest children, not just from California but from all over the world. These kids need our support and I feel blessed to be able to help.”

When she accepted the award for recognition of her humanitarian efforts, Jennifer spoke about the questions that came up for her when her daughter was sick and they took her to the hospital for the first time. “What if I couldn’t afford a doctor? What if I couldn’t receive the medicines or the procedures? As a mother, as a parent, what would I do? Well the thought was overwhelming. And realizing that there are so many mothers and families that experience this everyday it became even more evident to me that I had to join forces with CHLA and do something about it.”

She certainly did do something about it! She started the Lopez Family Foundation with her sister. The Foundation works to expand the number of telemedicine clinics, both domestically and abroad, increasing access to top quality pediatric care for the most serious cases. Telemedicine is a remarkable new healthcare delivery system that uses telecommunications technology to conduct medical diagnoses, consultations, treatments, transfers of data, education of physicians and much more. Basically the technology allows patients located all over the world to receive access to care by the physicians at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Lopez explains, “I experienced the beauty of new motherhood right around the same time as my sister, Lynda. For both of us, the importance of bringing a greater sense of security and well-being to under-served and under-privileged communities truly hit home during that time. We grew up in a neighborhood that was not privileged, with an awareness of what many must go without. The number of children that grow up without access to quality health care, doctors, and health care facilities, is unacceptable. Also unacceptable is the small number of parents who have access to be adequately and completely informed about critical child-and health-care topics.”

In October 2010, the Foundation launched their first telemedicine center in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at the San Jorge Children’s Hospital. In June 2012, they launched a second telemedicine program in Panama. Together with CHLA they are working with three major pediatric centers in Panama. Jennifer has visited all of the sites and donated new equipment and resources to the hospitals they are serving. At a ceremony to celebrate her visit she declared, “As a mother, children are the most important thing for me.”

In 2014 Jennifer was one of the co chairs of the Global Moms Relay, a digital dialogue between moms to inspire action to help improve the lives of mothers and children everywhere. Each day a celebrity or community leader shared a personal story of how a mother has changed his or her life, and then “passed the baton” to the next contributor. The model was ‘You share, they give: each time readers shared one of these posts via social media, Johnson & Johnson donated $1 (per action) to help improve the health and well-being of moms and kids worldwide through MAMA, Shot@Life, and GirlUp.

Jennifer has also been vocal about her support for marriage equality, has given millions of dollars for HIV/AIDS research and is active on behalf of bullying and youth anti-violence causes. Currently Lopez serves as executive producer of ABC Family’s hit TV series The Fosters, a one-hour drama about a multi-ethnic family mix of foster and biological kids being raised by two moms. Lopez was on the receiving end of a boycott campaign from One Million Moms, a project of the radically anti-LGBT group American Family Association. When she received the 2013 Ally for Equality Award from the Human Right’s Campaign (HRC), their president Chad Griffin said, “Even facing pressure from anti-LGBT groups, Jennifer stands her ground as a strident equality supporter.

Throughout her career, Jennifer Lopez has always stood for fairness, justice and equality.”

Now that I have learned all about the incredible philanthropic work that Jennifer Lopez has done and continues to do, I wish more people knew about it too and didn’t just recognize her for her great body… of work in entertainment. Who knows, maybe if we all started tweeting and instagramming pictures of her beautiful generosity, then her heart would be insured for $27 million too!

Thank you JLo for being an incredible role model for all young women, especially young mothers. You are truly making a difference in the lives of so many women, men, little ones and their families and for that reason you are more than worthy of the title of Hollywood Journal‘s January Soul Angel.

Georgia Van Cuylenburg

About Georgia Van Cuylenburg

Georgia is a comedian, writer and actress who started her production company to create work that makes people laugh and makes a difference. Through her entertainment and philanthropic work she is committed to sharing her personal trials to help others, and to having children around the world believe in their magic. Follow Georgia on Twitter @georgiavanc and YouTube

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