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Will & Jada Donate $75,000 To Youth Build

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Jada & Will Smith Donate $75,000 To Youth Build!

San Francisco Chronicle, LEAH GARCHIK: Friday, December 16, 2005

The best times are always in the kitchen, and that was my own favorite moment at Glide Memorial's huge Mo's Kitchen Holiday Festival at the Marriott on Wednesday. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, who'd been in town this fall for the shooting of "Pursuit of Happyness,'' which will star both Will and the couple's son Jaden, were special guests at the event. Upstairs during the cocktail reception, they were surrounded by TV cameras, bodyguards, PR people and aides who were trying to protect them from swarms of enthusiastic fans. There were more than 1,000 people at the event.

But then it was time to go down to dinner, and I got a chance to talk with Smith while he was led through the service elevator and through the kitchen to the banquet hall. Fruits of the conversation: The Smiths have been giving to Glide through their foundation. The movie was shot on Sundays, making it impossible for him to attend services at Glide. But one Sunday, Smith's birthday, the Rev. Cecil Williams "brought the service to me'' on the set, the choir singing in the street. The Smiths' 5-year-old daughter, Willow, insisted on going to Chinatown every day. Smith grew a full Afro and big mustache for the shoot, and shaved it off the "second they said 'Wrap!' ''

But the obvious fruits were less memorable than the scene as he walked through the kitchen. Actor Smith said later that the most important movie he'd ever made was "Ali,'' and that "Pursuit,'' about Chris Gardner, who once stood in line for meals at Glide and nowadays is the head of a major Chicago brokerage firm, is second. The workers in the kitchen seemed to sense his sentiments; they stood on both sides of him, in a kind of ragged receiving line four or five deep, as he walked through, giving him thumbs-up signs, catching his eye, doing subtle little dance moves. No one tried to engage him in conversation, but the attention of every person there was focused on him, and although he'd been protected from the mob at the cocktail party, here he focused on the workers and responded, catching and returning glances as he could, breaking into a phrase of song at one point, saying "I see you'' and "thanks.'' His conversations along that path trumped any journalist's question I could have asked, and it was euphoric to trail along in his parade.

After dinner and near the end of the presentations -- singing by the Glide choir and Oakland's "American Idol'' star LaToya London, and talks by Willie Brown and Williams and Janice Mirikitani, enthusiastically presided over by emcee Renel of KISS FM -- the Smiths took the stage. The honorees of the evening were restaurateur Man Kim, who'd helped rebuild Glide's kitchen; Irene Scully, who'd supported children's programs; and Glide YouthBuild, which prepares young people to serve in construction trades while completing their education.

You could see the YouthBuild kids, snappy in matching brown overalls that looked spanking new, focusing on the movie stars. When the Smiths stepped up to the podium, he joked around for a while, and then Jada Pinkett Smith (without bling and without cleavage, looking respectful and un-Hollywood) took over. "We always have obstacles,'' she said, looking at the kids. "I am the daughter of a mother who was a heroin addict and a father who is still struggling with crack addiction today. ... No matter what is happening in your life, you are here for a reason. You have the power to do anything in this world. Understand that the best weapon is your mind. Educate yourself. I don't care how pretty you are or how well you can sing, you've got to have your mind. So tonight, Will and I will make a donation to YouthBuild.'' They gave $75,000; Gardner, who was at dinner, too, pledged another $25,000 to make it an even $100,000.

The choir took the stage again, and Williams led a rocking version of "We Shall Overcome,'' guests abandoning their tables to dance. Debbie, the super-efficient waitress at our table, cleared it with a smile on her face. Somehow, in a season of many banquets, there seemed little that was routine about this one.

Source: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?...s.entertainment

Dont know if this has been posted before, but I posted it on the official site and thought I would here. :hmm:

Edited by Big Willie
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