Jenna Dewan is more than just an actress. The Step Up star is using her fame to bring awareness to the work of the Ronald McDonald House Charities as many look for causes to support on Giving Tuesday, an international effort to drive support to charities. The organization, which founded its first house in 1974 in Philadelphia, provides a variety of services to families impacted by children with severe illnesses. The organization provides the families a home away from home through comfort, support, and resources to families as they travel miles away from their home base for the medical care their child needs.
Dewan, a mother of two, was inspired to get involved through her own journey to motherhood. Pop Culture spoke with Dewan on how the partnership came to be and why she encourages all to donate their time and services to the organization. Scroll through to read our Q-and-A with the Rookie and Superman & Lois actress, which has been edited for clarity.
PC: We heard that you were part of this amazing new partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities. How did you get involved with it?
JD: I have known of Ronald McDonald House Charities for a really, really long time and the incredible work that they do. What really hit me is the idea that as a mom, I know what it's like to worry about the health of my children, and I can't imagine when having a sick child to have to worry about providing comfort and housing and care while receiving treatment. The fact that they provide that to families close to the hospital than where these children are receiving treatment, and at no cost and is such a loving and fully embracing kind place, this really spoke to me and mattered beyond.
What exactly does your role with the charity entail?
Well, it's basically helping to bring awareness to the charity now more than ever. The economic impact of coronavirus has been difficult for the charity and the families affected and they need support now more than ever. I am helping in donations, helping to bring awareness, and just helping an incredible charity.
Have you been able to visit any of the houses on your own since you've embarked on this partnership with them, or any of the families? Have you met them?
I haven't. The new protocols in our world have stopped that from happening, although I really, really want to. My fiance, Steve [Kazee], had been there in the past and done some work with them, so he had always told me about it. I really hope, one day, to be able to get there because, to me, it sounds absolutely amazing.
In what ways are you encouraging others to get involved? In what ways can they help? I know, personally, a lot of people think that the only way that they can get involved is through monetary donations, but they have an amazing volunteer program.
That is really important. I think most people think the only way to help is through financial means, but there's bringing awareness, there is just word of mouth, there is volunteering, there is sponsoring even a dollar a month. I mean, anything really helps this charity, so anything you can do.
If you could name a few reasons why you think that, obviously aside from sick children benefiting in their families, why do you think that this is such a good charity for people to donate their time and monetary efforts to?
Well it's an incredible charity that has been around for years upon years, and they have raised a lot of money, but they've also really helped a lot of families. I think that to have that ability to help around 90% of the top children's hospitals worldwide and to know that that is a really long-standing charity that does incredible work, there's a certain amount of support that is needed now more than ever. To me, I can't imagine anything better than helping families with a sick child and helping them have housing, and being able to relieve them of any worries they could have during that time.
You spoke a little bit about the financial impact that has obviously been as a result of the past year and a half, two years of being in a global pandemic. In what ways has Ronald McDonald House been affected by that?
Everybody's been affected. I think, of course, donations are needed because as our economy has gone through a lot of changes, they haven't been raising this amount of money that they would need to help as many kids as they can help. So bringing out the awareness, making sure people understand what an incredible charity this is and doing what we can do after such an insane two years to give back and to help others is very important to me.
For more information about Ronald McDonald House Charities, you can head over to the organization's official site.