October 15, 2009
Oscar-winning actor and Plan!t Now founder Morgan Freeman has been honored with an Oceana service award for his work with P!N in support of maritime environments.
Oceana recognized the service work of Morgan and actress Glenn Close at the second annual SeaChange Summer Party. The star-studded benefit in Laguna Beach raised almost $900,000 for ocean conservation through ticket sales and proceeds from auction items.
“We are thrilled that Ms. Close and Mr. Freeman will be this year’s honorees,” said Valarie Whiting, Oceana Board Member and SeaChange co-chair with Ted Danson. Whiting said the significant funding generated will help Oceana continue its work restoring and protecting the world’s oceans.
Harrison Ford and John Picard, last year’s honrees, made an appearance at the gathering, which Orange Coast Magazine rates among the top five “must-attend” events in Orange County. The guest list also included actors Jeff Goldblum and Kate Walsh, among others.
Morgan founded Plan!t Now, a disaster preparedness and recovery nonprofit, in 2007 after Hurricane Ivan devastated the tiny island of Grenada. Plan!t Now focuses on preparedness through education, research and indirect relief in the form of scholarships, grants and micro loans. Plan!t Now and Morgan recruited country music superstar Kenny Chesney to join the board, and both pledged to support storm-affected people in the U.S., the Caribbean and Central America.
Today, Plan!t Now has partnerships with organizations nationwide and worldwide. In cooperation with organizations including the American Red Cross, Hard Rock International and Warner Brothers Pictures, the organization has funded and supported programs that include the building of an I.T. lab in Granada, major relief for Katrina victims and many others.
This year, thanks to a continued partnership with the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Plan!t Now will distribute $100,000 to undergraduate students affected by severe storms and students pursuing degrees in research in hazard science studies.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Morgan Freeman is one of the most respected figures in modern cinema. His first Oscar nomination was for his role in Street Smart (1987) and, in 1989, he earned a second nomination in Driving Miss Daisy. Morgan garnered his third Oscar nomination in 1994 for his uplifting role in The Shawshank Redemption, and in 2004, he received his fourth nomination, and won Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby. In addition to his film work, his commanding and mellifluous voice has also led Morgan to be cast to narrate and host dozens of first-rate television specials and movies, including March of the Penguins.
Oceana and Marine Conservation
In a public service announcement produced with the Sierra Club, Morgan explains that the severity of storms has grave consequences for coastlines and maritime environments, as well as people:
“We are all students in the school of big storms,” he says. “Scientists say a changing climate may mean more frequent and violent storms, and we need to act before the next big storm hits. Together, we can do it. Disaster happens when preparation doesn’t.”
Oceana campaigns to protect and restore the world’s oceans. Its teams of marine scientists, economists, lawyers and advocates win specific and concrete policy changes to reduce pollution and to prevent the irreversible collapse of fish populations, marine mammals and other sea life. Global in scope and dedicated to conservation, Oceana has campaigners based in North America, Europe and South and Central America. More than 300,000 members and e-activists in over 150 countries have already joined Oceana. For more information, please visit www.oceana.org.
Release by Will Halicks, Plan!t Now.
Photos courtesy of _______________.