The SAG-AFTRA Foundation has passed the $6 million mark in COVID-19 emergency relief aid that’s been distributed to more than 6,500 of the union’s members and their families in need. That’s according to the latest update from Foundation president Courtney B. Vance, who noted that the financial assistance was made possible “through support from over 1,000 generous donors.”
“While the circumstances are not what anyone would consider positive,” he said in his 20th fireside chat since the pandemic began, “the response and support that so many of you have shown is phenomenal, displaying that we have truly come together as a community to lift up those who’ve needed help. I couldn’t be more appreciative for your contributions and commitment to this cause.”
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Watch his latest fireside chat above.
“I hope this update meets you at a moment of optimism,” he said. “While we’re certainly not out of the COVID woods yet, there has been encouraging news that a vaccine may be on the horizon. As always, I hope you’ll continue to join me in remaining protective and proactive, so that we can assure the health and safety not just for ourselves but for those around us too. It’s important we all help each other through the dark tunnel till we finally reach the light.
“With cases spiking nationwide, and winter fast approaching, I want to remind you all that our Disaster Relief Fund for COVID-19 is here for those who have not yet taken advantage of it,” he said, noting that applications are currently taking a week to process.
“Our Foundation relies entirely on the generosity of donors to continue the vital work we do for our community, and this year has been unlike any other,” he said, urging members to take part on Dec. 1 in Giving Tuesday, the annual global charitable movement.
Other services the Foundation has provided to to more than 51,000 SAG-AFTRA participants, he said, include over 1,200 remote educational panels and learning opportunities; the production of virtual voiceover and on-camera recording sessions; remote casting access and computer software classes; Conversations at Home Q&As, and online workshops on The Business.
The Foundation, he noted, has also engaged more than 140 million children, parents and teachers in remote learning through its award-winning Storyline Online literacy program, which averages 15 million views a month, offering 61 books read by 66 SAG-AFTRA performers, and whose viewership has grown by 20% since 2019.
“As you can see, our programs and services may have been remote, but our work and impact remains as vital as ever,” he said. “If you’re in a position to help support our Foundation, we would be grateful for your help this Giving Tuesday. No donation is too small or too big. Please go to sagaftrafoundation.org/donate and help us continue our vital programs in 2021.”
Vance also noted that Netflix and Ryan Murphy, who is a member of our Entertainment Industry Council, will be hosting a special upcoming event in connection with the premiere of The Prom on Netflix in December. This movie adaptation of the Broadway show stars several members of the Actors’ Council, including Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Kerry Washington, as well as Foundation supporters James Corden, Keegan-Michael Key and Andrew Runnels.
As he always does, Vance signed off his chat with an inspirational message:
“It’s been quite a year, and no doubt we’ve all had our challenges. While there’s so much to be stressed or fearful about, I want to encourage you to find the things to which you are thankful for this holiday. Is that your health? Your home? Your friends? Your family? Your book club, gaming groups, or even some of the classes and help you’ve been able to access here at the Foundation? You see, there’s a lot we can get down about, but so much more that we can be appreciative of. In the words of the late great John Candy from the Thanksgiving classic Planes, Trains and Automobiles when he referred to his crushed car: ‘I know it’s not pretty to look at, but it’ll get you where you want to go.’ Which in a moment of strife such as this one, is the only way for us to really move forward. Positivity breeds productivity, good spirits create ample results, and being thankful for what you have eliminates the need to focus on what you don’t.
“Myself? Well this year, I’m thankful for you. From the many nice comments I’ve received on this YouTube channel to the extraordinary support the Foundation has gotten from donors and volunteers… together we’ve managed to not just keep growing as artists in alliance, but we’ve created a closer community by looking out for one another.
“This holiday, while our plans and company may look different than usual, know you will have a place in our hearts, which for me makes this a holiday worth celebrating for sure. My best wishes to you all for a happy, and healthy, Thanksgiving holiday. May your stomach be kept full and hearts be made happy. I appreciate all you’ve done this past year, and look forward to all the great things that are to come.
“So until next month: Stay healthy. Stay connected. Stay positive. Stay cooking that turkey ’til it’s ready, ad if you’re feeling sick or symptomatic, stay home. Grace and Peace.”