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Matt Bomer and his husband Simon Halls received the Ambassador of Children Award at the Norma Jean Gala held at the W Hotel in Hollywood on Thursday night. The duo were honored for their contributions to Hollygrove, an after-school program designed to help and provide services for children coming from disadvantaged backgrounds and traumatic family experiences.
“They create a safe space for them to creatively express what they’re going through and what they’re feeling. They do a lot of art projects together with their parents so it’s a great way to incorporate the whole family and to get them working together and communicating together and get them outside of whatever stressful circumstances they may be in,” Bomer told The Hollywood Reporter.
Busy Phillips, a longtime volunteer with Hollygrove, told a very moving story about a young girl who she had worked with through the program.
“There’s one particular little girl that I’ve seen over the last three years of volunteering there, and this is a girl that has had physically traumatic abuse in her life, and I’ve seen her just come out of her shell in the last three years and I was there last month and she was talking to me and really outgoing. You can actually see the change in these kids,” Phillips said.
Hollygrove was originally created as an orphanage in 1880 and once provided a home for a young Marilyn Monroe. Today the organization serves over 1,200 families and foster children in the great Los Angeles area.
Actress Carson Meyer served as a member of the events Host Committee, and she told THR why the organization worked well for children who were struggling in more traditional programs.
“You walk into Hollygrove and you just feel this immediate warmth, where everybody is kind of one and comes together, and you don’t see a divide,” she said.
After enjoying cocktails and crab cakes on the patio, guests were led to the ballroom, where they were treated to dinner and a lively auction. There were many luxurious items to bid on, but the most coveted prize was an opportunity to meet President Barack Obama and after several rounds of spirited bidding, the photo-op was purchased for $15,000. The 6th annual Norma Jean gala raised over $380,000 to support the organization.
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