New Orleans, LA. I spoke this week with Sallie Ann Glassman who told me how proud the New Orleans Healing Center (NOHC) is to present an “Evening with Joan Rivers” next month in their facility. “Uncensored. Unscripted. Unpredictable.” How could I imagine anything else? “This is a ‘once in a lifetime’ benefit performance for us and a rare opportunity to see the legendary comedian in such an intimate setting. And the show is already completely sold out!
Sallie Ann is exceptionally interesting as she is an American Vodou priestess. Going back and forth to Haiti regularly for over a decade, I count many Haitian Vodou priests among my friends, but I had never until today spoken to an American one. She told me:
Joan and I bonded over Ghost-busting in her New York apartment. We hit it off right away and she attended my wedding last fall. She offered to do a benefit for our Community Center as my wedding gift!
After our conversation and googling on-line, I have to admit I am very impressed with the New Orleans Healing Center. It seems unique among community centers in that it was specially created to help, heal, and empower surrounding neighborhoods on a civic, social, economic, environmental, intellectual, and spiritual level. Cool, no?
I learned that at its core it consists of a cooperative grocery, street university, yoga studio, green business incubator, healing arts collective, performance theater, interfaith center, and organic food restaurant. But more importantly, these and other carefully selected community-focused programs, services, and activities are designed to help revitalize and restore neighborhoods and bring them together.
Much more than just a physical building, the New Orleans Healing Center is a pioneering concept that provides both the framework and guidance for individuals and communities to help each other and themselves.
Joan, who is no slacker when it comes to social responsibility, wants to help. She gets it and she acts – and she has the power to act in a big way. She is known as a force of nature and one of the hardest-working celebrities in the world.
An entertainment legend of unparalleled accomplishment and talent, she’s among other things an internationally renowned comedienne, Emmy-winning television talk show host, Tony-nominated actress, best-selling author, playwright, screenwriter, motion picture director, columnist, lecturer, syndicated radio host, jewelry designer and cosmetic company entrepreneur, red carpet fashion laureate, businesswoman — and most importantly, a proud mother and grandmother. Whew!
Joan Rivers is a true pioneer: she has created her own brand of irreverent, unconventional comedy and forged her remarkable rise to stardom in the entertainment world. Enduring humiliation and deprivation for nearly a decade playing tawdry clubs, Borscht Belt hotels, and Greenwich Village cabarets her career skyrocketed in 1968 when she appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. She soon made television history as the first sole guest host ofThe Tonight Show. She once quipped, “I was insanely persistent.”
My own connection to New Orleans is interesting. After the Tsunami in Indonesia in 2004, I created Orphans International Sumatera (OIWW) there on a small campus complete with a health center outfitted by our friends at the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Our doctors there, Muslim women, were phenomenal. After Hurricane Katrina hit the city in 2005, they insisted on coming to repay the favor and they were among the only foreign doctors in New Orleans Fourth Ward.
Joan’s unique gifts of humor, compassion, and tenacity have enabled her to work effortlessly. She serves as a board member on behalf of God’s Love We Deliver, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the National Osteoporosis Foundation. She also dedicates her time to Guide Dogs for the Blind, among others. Joan Rivers embodies class, confidence, and chutzpah in all the right proportions, and her accomplishments are extraordinary. I congratulate her for her support of the New Orleans Healing Center.
New Orleans Healing Center
2372 St. Claude Ave. New Orleans, La 70117Anba Dlo Halloween Festival
Saturday, October 20, 2012, The New Orleans Healing Center
See Stories by Jim Luce on:
The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation (www.lucefoundation.org) is the umbrella organization under which The International University Center Haiti (Uni Haiti) and Orphans International Worldwide (OIWW) are organized.
Originally published in The Daily Kos.