Mary Gustafson, McKnight's Staff Writer
Mary Gustafson, McKnight’s Staff Writer

I’m being completely honest when I say that, in general, I do not have a problem with celebrities who crusade for charitable and humanitarian causes. I really don’t — Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and their ilk spend gazillions on causes close to their heart — so good for them.

It’s surprising, then, that I had such a cynical reaction when I read that the three film industry executives behind DreamWorks SKG are each giving the Motion Picture & Television Fund $30 million to help keep the foundation-supported nursing home afloat. Earlier this year, the charity’s board embarked on a fundraising campaign with a goal of raising $350 million. News of the $90 million donation was announced Tuesday by none other than George Clooney, the co-chair of the MPTF’s fundraising campaign.

For those unfamiliar, the Motion Picture & Television Fund has been struggling to keep a nursing home for former TV and film luminaries up and running. The facility has been fighting for years to stay open but has repeatedly seen deals with long-term care operators go sour. Numerous multimillion-dollar fundraisers and galas have been organized to raise money for the facility, and yet it has still struggled. If all that can’t keep a nursing home in business, imagine how hard it is for facilities that aren’t in the 90210 ZIP code.

But back to Clooney and company.

A $30 million donation from one individual is nothing to sneeze at, and I can’t think of a better way to spend such a sizable chunk of change. But part of me is still peeved on behalf of thousands of other nursing homes — ones without famous residents and founders. They also are in dire need of significant charitable donations. It’s no secret that California is struggling to pay for long-term care for its non-famous seniors. That’s why I winced a little at something Steven Spielberg told the L.A. Times:

“It becomes very personal when someone you know or have worked with is cared for at ‘the Home’ or a crew member is helped financially by MPTF. The mission, ‘We take care of our own’ is suddenly very real and tangible, and so this new donation is an extension of what we have been doing for a number of years to support that mission.”

Again, I can’t take issue with the director’s generosity. I just wish that more celebrities — or Americans in general — viewed long-term care as a way of “taking care of our own.”

I’d love to see more celebrities lend their star power to causes for seniors and the disabled — even if it’s not just through cold, hard cash. I mean, how many nursing homes would turn Clooney away if he showed up to volunteer (in between movies and trips to Darfur, of course)?

After all, we take care of our own isn’t just a Bruce Springsteen song.