John Legend at Hopelink Luncheon


John Legend Private Meet and Greet. Bellevue, Washington.


Dear World,

Monday October 18th I attended Hopelink’s 15th Annual Reaching Out Benefit Luncheon with a special keynote speaker: the award-winning musician, humanitarian and philanthropist, John Legend.

Thanks to my friend Linda, my friends and I were able to meet John Legend prior to the luncheon attended by well over 1,000 people. I have to say that this was one of the most seamless and enjoyable programs I have ever attended in my life! The presenters had concise speeches and reasonable points to make and the flow was just perfect.

Quincy Jones had pre-taped an introduction to the Hopelink luncheon and was proud to introduce John Legend. The sponsors were Comcast, Costco, TriFilm, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Boeing, Dart Transportation, Expedia, and others. The video produced to thank the sponsors highlighted what contributions each company made to Hopelink on a personal level, from food donations to travel accommodations. There was a brief thanks to the luncheon sponsors and to the leadership at Hopelink.

This organization completely floored me when I found out that 92% of what is donated to Hopelink ACTUALLY goes to helping those in need; many non-profits soak up to 50% of the donations for administration purposes. That shows great allocation of donations given to this cause. They also did something which I would have thought would be unheard of in a crowd of this caliber (we are talking Bellevue, WA here…Neiman Marcus is 10 paces away and Bill Gates lives 5 miles away!): we were asked to stand if we had experienced homelessness, then if we had known a family member who had experienced homelessness, finally if we had known anyone who had experienced homelessness…at that point the entire auditorium was standing!

“Wake Up! is the rallying cry of today’s luncheon,” proclaimed the Director of Hopelink (which also happens to be the name of John Legend’s current album). She pointed out the recent piece the Seattle Times had done about invisible families in Washington and how homelessness affects all of us, from the very young to the very old.

A representative from the Gates Foundation spoke about why the Foundation supported and believed in Hopelink. I also found out that John Legend was promoting a film, Waiting For Superman, with Bill Gates who has travelled with Legend to promote the film, which made its debut at the Sundance Film Festivalthis past January.

Then Linda Benson, Vice President of Hopelink came to the podium and gave a very moving speech. She spoke of the world recently being “galvanized by a powerful and personal vision….and how the rescued Chilean miners brought the world together.” Her hope was that the galvanization felt by the world for these miners would translate into a comparable heartfelt desire to help their neighbors in need.

The lights were dimmed and a very poignant video was shown introducing us to some of the families Hopelink has helped and how it was making an enormously positive difference in their lives.

After the video, she brought to the stage and introduced the audience to the special families  who were featured in the video. A standing ovation for these brave families erupted from the audience.  Then, John Legend took to the stage to greet all of the families.

Mr. Legend then began a wonderfully moving speech. He asked us what brought the people of Seattle together? “Was it technology, coffee, a shared resilience to the rain? (lots of laughter) Why are we all together? Because we’re neighbors!” He asked us to “turn down the noise and clutter of our lives and listen to our friends.”

He went on to describe his Show Me Campaign, a way to stop the cycle of poverty through proven solutions. He said we all can make changes in other’s lives. We can’t not act. Mr. Legend told all of us how he was supremely impressed with breadth and depth and impact by Hopelink.

He then recounted some more of the stories from Hopelink recipients and reminded all of us: that times are tough and homelessness has happened to good people; that it is these times when we cannot turn our back on these people.

He sang his song Shine for the audience, which was written for his film Waiting For Superman. He followed up with the song If You’re Out There.

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After his performance I had to break away and use the restroom. Upon my return, I literally screamed out, “OH SHIT” our table was on fire because one of the candles had lit the centerpiece on fire…and no one at the table had noticed. They were all so glued to the speaker at the podium that the table was literally going up in smoke! I never thought I’d be a philanthropist AND a fire fighter all in the same day!

Quincy Jones then came back on-screen for a farewell and call to act and give to Hopelink. I did and you should too!

As a side note, I didn’t attend this program because I was a huge John Legend fan. I had actually not even heard his music until that morning when we drove over and listened to some of his songs (don’t tell anyone I said that!). And, I actually brought some of my own celebrity friends to the luncheon: Art Peterson from Deadliest Catch and Lenny Price, a fantastically humble and talented musician who also took most of these photographs! Thanks for joining me guys!




~ by winnieswineworld on October 21, 2010.

One Response to “John Legend at Hopelink Luncheon”

  1. […] John Legend at Hopelink Luncheon В« Winnie's Wine World Blog Oct 21, 2010 … Bellevue, Washington. Dear World,. Monday October 18th I attended Hopelink's 15th Annual Reaching … […]

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