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EXTRA! Jon Bon Jovi

Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley
The Truth Network Radio
November 24, 2019 11:36 am

EXTRA! Jon Bon Jovi

Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley

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November 24, 2019 11:36 am

Tracy Smith's extended interview with Rock star Jon Bon Jovi.

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It's a conversation offering insight beyond the broadcast. On this episode, Jon Bon Jovi. You already know him as a rock star.

He sold more than 130 million records. What you may not know is that the New Jersey-born Jon Bon Jovi is also the man behind the JBJ Soul Kitchen, a non-profit pay-what-you-can restaurant he founded with his wife, Dorothea. It's a project they took on together, a response to the hunger issue. Okay, a salad today. So I'm going to run a special appetizer tonight. One gourmet meal at a time.

Tracy Smith caught up with the Bon Jovis at the restaurant in Red Bank, New Jersey. So how did you share this idea with your husband? She leaned across the couch. And I said, I have this idea. And you said? It was genius. We had formed the foundation and had been building houses. And in 2008, with the financial downturn, tax credits and opportunities were starting to dry up. But we had built hundreds of units of housing at that point. And that's when Dorothea saw this TV show and stream of consciousness said, here's what it should be next. We need to feed the people in those houses. Here's how we're going to do it.

But you had the vision. An important part of this is dignity, that you earn what you eat here. Explain that to me. Everyone can participate in some way. Everyone can feel part of it. And we just try to. You don't have to volunteer.

You don't have to. But people want to. They want to feel like I too can contribute in some way. I have a value.

I have some talent that I can share. And people are, they feel better when they can do that. It gives them dignity. It gives them pride in participation. You almost feel as though you're missing out on something if you don't participate. So we ask you to.

And nobody says no. But you earned your meal. And that certificate could feed your whole family, just coming in and busing the table, working in the gardens, washing a dish. And our whole theory was that if you came in and gave us $2 for your meal, we don't learn your story. As you volunteer with us and you become part of our community, the onion unfolds, as I say. And we learn about what are the barriers that are maybe keeping you from getting your own home or finding a job. So that was always the part of creating a space where people could feel safe to come in and share their journey.

And what did you learn about this community? Well, what we kind of already knew working through the affordable housing is that it's not what people think. Hunger doesn't look like what your mind's eye might imagine. It's the people at your church. It's the kids that go to school with your kids. And I think that was eye-opening for a lot of the community here that said, oh, there's no homeless people here. And they look around the restaurant and I say, I can name five people right now that I know are homeless in this restaurant right now. But they don't look like what you think. It's not the stereotype that you're expecting to see.

No, no, no. These are hardworking people who had a hard time making ends meet. And again, going back to the time when we started this with the economic downturn, those are people that have had jobs for a long period of time.

And now we're put back into joblessness. And that could lead to having to choose between prescription medicine and food and losing your job and or losing your house because people live paycheck to paycheck. So for a lot of this population, it's a choice between paying a bill and feeding my family.

But it's more than, don't say this population, America's population. You know, think about what the entry barrier is for people that are in need. $28,000 for a family of four. To be considered living in poverty, to qualify for any kind of services is like maybe $24,000 or $28,000.

The actual cost of living in our community is $76,000 for a family of four. Right. And you have no services.

Right. And those are people who don't go on vacation and don't, you know, they're just getting by at $76,000 a year. And you found that people aren't looking for a handout. They want to work. They want to earn. The people who come here, our community, I have yet to find someone who, you know, it's not for everybody.

And I think soup kitchens do a fine service and our model is just different. You know, we want people to participate. And we have found that most people like it and they feel, you know, they want to show up and do what they have to do. And they feel it gives them kind of boundaries and responsibilities that maybe people don't expect them to be able to rise to, but they rise to the occasion. A big part of this is community. The tables are big here and you sit people next to strangers.

Why? So you learn other people's stories. You know, if chances are, and I'll be a bad example, but the example, if I were to go to a restaurant, they're going to seat me at a table. And then, you know, I won't have the opportunity to have met Mr. Smith, who may be coming in here as a guest. But in this situation, when Mr. Smith and I meet, you find that your mind was conditioned in a way that it needn't be. Mr. Smith had a great job at one point. He has an education at one point.

He had a family at one point. So you're talking and you're realizing all these commonalities and you'll be surprised by how many times people have met and worked together as a result. You know, I used to do this.

Really? Well, I do this. And then they get together and things happen. And we've witnessed it for years. We call it the field of dreams effect. We call it the field of dreams effect.

The field of dreams effect. What do you mean? You build it and they will come and eventually, you know, inevitably someone will be sitting at dinner and I'm having a problem with my bank. I work at the bank and right over dinner, some situation gets worked out. And that happens more times than I could tell you. Did you find that people were resistant to that at first? Some people, some people.

It's like I said, it's not for everybody. And I can always tell when the wife has dragged the husband because he's not too happy and he's sitting there. But then by the end, everyone's hugging, they're outside, they're exchanging phone numbers and they've made unbelievable friendships. There was a sense here in the community that there wasn't a need for this. There were those who we invited down. They were all friends of ours and we had to have a celebrity chef once come and cook them a special meal that they may not have gotten around here in the area just to get them in and explain the model to them. And several of them were quite honest about the needs or their understanding of the needs in the community. And when we told them the facts, several of them just wanted to throw money at us. So we don't need your money. What we needed was you to come and support the restaurant.

So it took a while to have the model become comfortable for everyone and anyone here in the community. And now 10 years in, it is 50-50. Those who pay money and those who volunteer, the message is spread. You're here. The message is spread. What Dorothea created was unique and is now hers and it's ours and it belongs to everybody, of course.

But it was created right here and we always believed it would be. If the community supported a model like this, that we believed it was sustainable because people can affect change directly. You give money at Thanksgiving and at Christmas to a number of charities and you feel good doing it.

But you sometimes don't know where the money went. If you want to affect change, leave a donation at the Soul Kitchen. You just fed that guy. That guy right over there.

Next to you. And that's the kind of example that we've set for a decade now. The next place is Rutgers University. Why a college campus? Well, we learned that through one of the local community colleges here. They had come to us and they were saying that they were experiencing a lot of student hunger and they were finding that kids, they started a pantry and it was very well received. And we were contacted by a food service provider who works on 18 college campuses and they came to us and they said, you know, would you be interested in doing a Soul Kitchen model on a college campus? And we said, absolutely.

Yeah. Well, we were also aware of the need, food insecurities at colleges. I'll give you a little anecdotal story. Like I said, once upon a time, we had to bring in locals and explain this model to them. And it took a lot of enticing, you know, with a celebrity chef and explaining that model. Ten years later, you realize there is a need and there are people that will come and support it. Who knew 10 years on we would have a situation where kids at colleges are food insecure? So again, educating those who are shocked and, you know, dismayed by this and then are having this model that's proven to go on this college campus and hopefully all 18 of these college campuses will help that need.

So that model is replicable nationwide. But when you send your kids off to school, you don't think about after tuition, books, living, what's left for food, you know, and so few are on meal plans to begin with. And then that's another reason why they're eating ramen noodles. We all think it's the rite of passage to sit and study hard and eat the ramen noodles.

How about if it's the only thing you can afford? When we were building houses, they were like, oh, good job. When we built the kitchens, people were like, this made people's head spins. You know, they were so surprised, excited, wanted to give, you know, money or participate. Then when we went back and said, kids at college, your kids that you're paying all that tuition for at colleges are hungry. Their jaws have dropped. You know, they can't even believe it. And we've seen it.

You know, we had two kids going through college, one about to go next year. And so we've seen this. We know this.

We know the story. And their, you know, friends, you know, they would be saying that, oh, you know, that kid is hungry during the day. So your kids, new kids, new other students at college who were struggling with food insecurity. What motivates you guys to do this? Well, I think, you know, there's the saying to whom much is given, much is expected. And I think that we realize we're grateful for the lives that we have. And we don't take it for granted. And I think we also came from humble roots. And we know what it's like to work hard.

And we see our friends who work just as hard, but maybe don't get to have amazing lives like, like we have. So that's how I feel. I feel like, you know, I just try to give back whenever you can and what anyone can in whatever way that you can't just be kind to people. I mean, it doesn't have to be, you know, we had the luxury of being able to do something like this, but anybody can, you know, do whatever they can.

Same thing. How about you? What motivates you to do this? Well, I feel blessed, obviously.

We also think that we had a good idea because, you know, there was this. For me, the motivation is just, I don't know, I just feel like that we have the ability to make the world just that much better. And why would it's, the question should be asked, why am I doing this interview? I don't like doing interviews. I can't say, but because we want somebody watching this to do this. That's all.

And I don't mean just the restaurant. I mean, find something that moves you and do it. You know, we don't, we just, we're saying this will make you feel good. Do something that makes you feel good.

That's really what I'm trying to do. I like that people leave here feeling good. That makes you feel good.

Yeah. You guys have been a team for how many years now? Almost 40.

Almost 40. What do you think it is about the two of you that works? There's, you know, it's, that's a whole movie. I think just probably growing up in the same area with the same kind of values and, you know, but nobody's, I mean, you know, everybody's world is round. We just support each other at the end of the day immensely. You know, it's we, it's not me. It's, you know, it's not Dorothy. It's, it's we. And that, that's always been just we.

So yeah, it comes easy. When you look at what Dorothy has done, what do you think? I'm so proud.

I'm ecstatic. You know, this is, this was her idea. She took the, the, the roots that the foundation had and then just exploded them. And, and the reception to this, when we were building houses and this was my own money and some government grants and, you know, I would play private shows and put the money in and we'd have donations maybe from some of the fan base, but it was primarily my money.

I'd get a lot of attaboys, attaboy, attaboy, and go, well, I just put a million dollars in this one and a million attaboy. When we came up with this, anyone and everyone would come up to Dorothy and go, I want to build on it. I want to, I want, and this was that eye popping moment that this is going to be her legacy. This is going to be her, her, what we, what we call the Eunice Shriver moment. You know, when, when Mrs. Shriver, who we both adored started the Special Olympics, you know, and, and her legacy will be felt for generations to come. I tell Dorothy, this is her Eunice moment. It's true.

It's true. She's doing something special. Special. When you say that you're changing lives, can you, can you see it? Yeah.

How do you see it? Just talk about that a little bit. Well, without telling a lot of details, you know, you can have people who come in and maybe aren't feeling so well and, you know, maybe aren't feeling great about their lives and don't want to go on and are safe, feel safe enough to share that story. And then with all our resources, we connect them to other resources and you save someone's life. Yeah.

Jobs, roof over their head, medical care, sense of community because they come back and tell someone about it. Yeah. We've witnessed that many, many times. Yeah. Happens all the time. Does that feel good or do you feel like, oh, there's so much more out there?

So much more out there. That's how I feel. But you have to realize that, you know, touching somebody, there's a ripple effect, you know, and, and they're telling somebody who maybe touched and on and on and on. Again, you know, it goes back to why are we doing this? That's why. Because of that ripple, you know? So knowing that they're touching lives here every day, and then in Tom's River every day, and now going to be at Newark, it'll be rippling bigger and farther and faster.

Yeah, absolutely. I think we are making a difference. Hi, podcast peeps. It's me, Drew Barrymore.

Oh my goodness. I want to tell you about our new show. It's the Drew's News podcast. And in each episode, me and a weekly guest are going to cover all the quirky, fun, inspiring, and informative stories that exist out in the world because, well, I need it.

And maybe you do too. From the newest interior design trend, Barbie Corps, to the right and wrong way to wash your armpits. Also, we're going to get into things that you just kind of won't believe and we're not able to do in daytime television. So watch out. Listen to Drew's News wherever you get your podcasts. It's your good news on the go.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-28 01:59:22 / 2023-01-28 02:06:39 / 7

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