For InStyle's December issue, on newsstands and available for digital download now, we spotlight the inspiring celebrities who cast a light on causes that deeply resonate with them in our annual "Shining Stars" feature.
When he's not playing President Fitz on Scandal, Tony Goldwyn is dedicating his time to a cause close to his heart: supporting disaster relief through AmeriCares. Read on to hear why he's passionate about the emergency response and global health organization and how you can get involved.
What prompted you to take action?
"When my wife and I first moved to Connecticut over 15 years ago, we heard about the work that this Stamford-based organization was doing through a neighbor. At the time, I knew nothing about them, but I was blown when I heard about the work they were doing. AmeriCares does absolutely mind-boggling work, but they don't make as much noise about themselves as they should, so I saw an opportunity to help spread the word."
Why do you think it is that such good work sometimes goes unnoticed?
"Unfortunately, it sometimes happens with non-profits; they do incredibly valuable work and have a small group of dedicated donors who support it, but outside of that group very few people are aware. The more I got involved with AmeriCares, the more I became a personal ambassador for the cause. They provide over $500 million in aid for disaster relief and recovery efforts, which is huge."
How is the organization able to put that money into action so effectively?
"Thanks to longstanding relationships with phamaceutical companies and health care providers, AmeriCares leverages every dollar raised and converts it into $20 worth of supplies and aid. It goes to show you how effective a $5 donation can be."
Are there any particular examples that stand out to you that really show the power of AmeriCares at work?
"I think the example that's really worth noting is the very birth of the organization. After the Vietnam War, there were thousands of South Vietnamese people trying to get out of the country. A PanAm airliner carrying a planeload of orphans crashed in the jungle. There were many survivors, but no one could get to them. AmeriCares founder Bob McCauley was, at the time, a newspaper executive living in Connecticut, and he couldn't understand why the U.S. government couldn't get to those kids. So he took out a second mortgage on his house, rented a 747, flew to Vietnam to pick up those stranded children, and got them safely back to America where he set them up with foster families. He just got it done."
How do you see your fans and the younger generation responding?
"Social media is an incredibly powerful platform on which to discuss these important topics. I've noticed that kids who are now in their 20s and early 30s have an incredible drive to give back and serve. I see it in my own children, who are in their 20s, too. It's a big priority for them to find something they can do to engage with a worthy cause. It's an impulse that I can take no credit for."