Couple Under Investigation for Defrauding Homeless Man

Couple Under Investigation for Defrauding Homeless Man

Sep 06

Last year, Kate McClure was in an unfortunate situation: out of gas and stranded on the side of the freeway outside of Philadelphia. She was spotted by John Bobbitt Jr., a homeless man who was a regular to that stretch of road. He only had 20 dollars, but he spent it to get her a can and a few gallons of gas, which got her home. McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, said they were determined to pay back his kindness. They gave him warm clothes and $100, but didn’t stop there. They began a GoFundMe on his behalf. Bypassing all expectations, it raised more than $400,000 from 14,000 donors. Bobbitt compared it to winning the lottery. But this is where this warm tale turns cold. A year later, the money is gone, and where it’s gone is unclear. Bobbitt claims he was only ever given $75,000 and less than a third of that in cash. The attorney for McClure and D’Amico claims he was given over half of the raised funds. During the time the GoFundMe was active, the couple promised donors they would use the funds to buy Bobbitt a house and set up two trusts to maintain him and turn the massive windfall into an income. Instead, a tip led Action News of Philadelphia to discover that the two had gone on expensive vacations, helicopter rides, and massive shopping sprees. Suspicious activity, as both McClure and D’Amico’s incomes together would barely stretch to be called middle class. No house for Bobbitt materialized, nor trust. The couple bought him a used camper van, but as he pursued the rest of the money raised in his name, they evicted him, and he is once again homeless. In an interview with the Inquirer, D’Amico said he would continue controlling the money until Bobbitt is drug-free, which was never a part of the fundraising disclosure, and is at odds with the lawyer’s statements that there is no money left. GoFundMe is participating in the courts’ investigation, and if the couple is found to have exploited Bobbitt and all 14,000 donors, has stated they intend to reimburse all donors up to $1,000 a head. They have also provided Bobbitt with $25,000 to help with living...

JJ Watt Provides One-Year Update on Hurricane Harvey Fundraiser

JJ Watt Provides One-Year Update on Hurricane Harvey Fundraiser

Sep 01

On August 26, 2017, Hurricane Harvey blew through Houston and the surrounding areas to become the most costly hurricane in American history, both in lives and livelihoods. It killed 88 people and caused nearly $200 billion worth of property and economic damage. In the aftermath, J.J. Watt, a player on the Houston Texans team, saw the intense need in his adopted hometown immediately. By September 1, 2017, he had put up a fundraiser on the site Youcaring (now absorbed by GoFundMe) with an initial goal of $200,000 dollars. “Hurricane Harvey has taken a catastrophic toll on our great city, while leaving many stranded and in need of assistance. We must come together and collectively help rebuild the aspects of our community members lives that were damaged or lost. Any donation that you can spare, no matter how large or small, is greatly appreciated. We will come out of this stronger than ever. We are Texans,” wrote Watt in the fundraiser’s initial pitch, which was accompanied by a video of the athlete making a heartfelt plea. Within three weeks, more than 200,000 individual donors had amassed a donation of over $37 million. On August 27, 2018, one year after Harvey, Watt, who had promised transparency to his donors, posted an update detailing the reach of the donated funds. Managed by Watt’s charity foundation, the Justin J. Watt Foundation, the money grew over the next year to more than $4.1 million, and was put to use rebuilding more than 600 homes and supporting Houston Food Bank and Feeding America, who together served over 26 million meals to those displaced and put in need by the hurricane. It also supported the rebuilding of 420 childcare centers to serve over 16,000 children, and got medicine to more than 10,000 patients in need. The fund is not exhausted, either. The Foundation intends to continue building homes and assisting Houstonians with medical and food needs as long as they can, alongside nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity and the Boys and Girls...

Lottery Winner Starts Her Own Charity with Winnings

Lottery Winner Starts Her Own Charity with Winnings

Jul 13

Rachel Lapierre won the lottery in 2013—a one in seven million stroke of luck, netting her C$1,000 a week for the rest of her life. At the time, she was a nurse, a former Miss Quebec, and already a person dedicated to helping those around her. At 20, she ran a modeling school to help young women build careers under their own control in the fashion industry. Later, as a nurse, she worked in emergency departments and was a part of overseas humanitarian organizations. Lapierre was 56 when her numbers popped up on the Canadian National Lottery. “I figured that if I won, I would go ahead with this project of founding a charity,” she told le Journal de Montreal in 2013. And she’s done just that. Using her winnings to organize teams of volunteers under a charity called Le Book Humanitaire, she has worked in eight countries and counting. Beginning in her hometown of Montreal, providing food and clothes to the homeless, she has also traveled abroad, building things like street clinics in India, Haiti, and Senegal. “Money is money,” said Lapierre in an interview with the Mirror about her passion project. “When you’re born, you don’t have anything. And when you go, you go with nothing but your memories. You go with what you did here in life. “We just try to promote good deeds. Good deeds can be so many things. It can be a bike, it can be food, it can be transport to go to the hospital.” Lapierre’s winnings are supplemented by a number of partner companies to fund the charity, including Les Ateliers, Lunettes Dépôt, and international shipping company Transport Charrette. Lapierre’s whole life is a story about making sure that her successes elevated others with her. If one can be said to deserve to win the lotto, surely she did. And she continues to make sure that her rising tide lifts all...

Kanye West Drama Results in the Renaming of Beloved Charity

Kanye West Drama Results in the Renaming of Beloved Charity

Jun 08

Kanye West and Che Smith grew up together in Chicago during the 80s and early 90s. Smith, who would become the rapper known as Rhymefest, was very close with West’s mother, Dr. Donda West. After she passed away in 2007, the two songwriters teamed up to begin a charity in her honor, known as Donda’s House. In 2013, the program launched with Smith and his wife, Donnie Smith at the head, connecting with schools to offer education in sound design to students. After the program’s launch, West had very little involvement outside of fundraising, which many attribute to a dislike between West’s wife, TV celebrity Kim Kardashian, and Che Smith, who is the program’s creative director. On May 25th, Donda’s House released a news statement condemning West’s current political platform, calling for a boycott of the artist himself, and dissolving their ties to him. West himself did not respond but Kardashian did, in a passionate series of tweets threatening to take the charity away from Smith. He responded by asserting that this was the first interest she had ever shown in the organization. “I wouldn’t characterize our relationship right now. I’d be lying if I said things weren’t sensitive and tender,” said Smith of West and his wife. A few hours after the exchange on Twitter, the charity released a statement removing Dr. Donda West’s name from the organization. Donda’s House became Art of Culture, Inc (although their website, at least as of this writing, remains www.dondashouseinc.org). “Our community actually selected the new name. And we did a review of programs and decided we’re going to continue our old programs, and also add some new ones contributed by the community,” said Donnie Smith, executive director, in reference to the 500+ artists that Art of Culture has helped mentor since its...

Dolly Parton Gives $1 Mil to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital

Dolly Parton Gives $1 Mil to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital

May 21

“Twenty-six years ago is when Hannah was diagnosed with leukemia and for five years we didn’t know if we’d be keeping her or not,” said Dolly Parton on Thursday, May 17th, in an auditorium at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. “But Hannah now stands here as our chemo hero. She shows that miracles do happen with good care, great doctors, and great nurses.” The legendary country singer was referring to Hannah Dennison, her niece. For Hannah’s 30th birthday, she and her aunt visited the hospital that saved her life as a child. In front of an audience of doctors, nurses, patients and families, Parton donated $1 million to the hospital. “They took such good care of her and just looking at the little faces of the kids going through this and the parents who suffer so much as well; it’s just touching and moving,” said Parton. “If you’re in a position where you can do something, you should do something.” That is Parton’s general philosophy in life. The country singer has been a big name in American philanthropy for her entire career. Her charitable foundation, Dollywood, provides free books to more than three quarters of a million children and hundreds of libraries, supports hospitals and wildlife conservation, and backs charity drives to help the victims of natural disasters. Parton decided she would make this donation to mark a landmark in her niece’s life a year ago, when she visited Vanderbilt to release her children’s album, I Believe in You. The album was targeted at children who face heavy challenges in life, such as illness and bullying… children like Hannah. As a demonstration of gratitude for the donation, Vanderbilt dedicated their rooftop butterfly garden to Hannah Dennison.. “Now that we have Hannah’s butterfly garden, we may come up and do little shows now and then and bring some joy to the kids,” said Parton, raising her...

Touched By the Santa Fe Shooting, JJ Watt Offers to Pay for Funerals

Touched By the Santa Fe Shooting, JJ Watt Offers to Pay for Funerals

May 20

On Friday, May 18th, a teenage boy armed with his father’s guns killed 10 people and wounded an additional 10 at Santa Fe High School, located about 30 miles outside of Houston. Coming less than two weeks before the end of the school year, the shooting put a terrible cap on a very difficult year for the school’s 1,400 students. In September, Hurricane Harvey flooded the town and caused dozens of evacuations. In February, there was a shooting scare caused by a prank. And now this. J.J. Watt, 28, was drafted by the Houston Texans in 2011, and ever since then has been a force for charity in the local area. His charitable organization, the Justin J. Watt Foundation, provides after-school athletic activities for students and holds an annual Charity Classic softball game in Sugar Land, Texas. He raised over $37 million for the community’s recovery after Hurricane Harvey, over a hundred times his initial goal of $200,000. After the shooting, Watt tweeted a short, heartfelt reaction: “Absolutely horrific,” he said. A day later, on May 19th, the Texans confirmed that Watt would be paying for the funerals of all 10 shooting victims. “On behalf of the Texans organization, we are saddened by the tragic events at Santa Fe High School this morning and extend our thoughts and heartfelt condolences to the victims, their families, and all those affected. We are grateful for the brave first responders, law enforcement officials, and medical personnel. The Texans family will continue to pray for our neighbors,” said the team in a released statement. After the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, Watt invited a number of affected families to the team’s field to hang out, loading them up with signed merchandise. He’s also hosted events for children orphaned in car crashes and visited children’s hospitals dressed as Batman. While he hasn’t any children of his own, it’s clear that children and their struggles loom large in his...