Dear AOL BUILD,
That’s too bad! (about Hillary Swank not able to attend a scheduled December 2 meeting at AOL BUILD) Sorry to hear Hillary won't be able to join. I know her pretty well from the neighborhood and she's really an amazing individual.
I have a question, are you guys doing anything to cover the 2nd anniversary of Sandy Hook? There’s a lot that is being done to ensure that things like this don’t continue.
A stronger look at mental illness in the grade schools are being looked at, and issues like anti-Bullying campaigns are proven to deter those suffering mental challenges. Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell has led conversations that suggest schools be better equipped, teachers be taught to look for signs, and the challenge of diminishing the stigma behind mental defect. 1 out of 5 students suffer as a result of mental illness and promoting kindness, and deterring bullying is, I believe the best place to start.
I run a 501 c3 NY non-profit that was founded close to 20 years ago to combat abuse/violence and look to the future health of our children. If course we were quick to respond within days of Sandy Hook. Though my years of working on this very issue I was able to offer my experience to expedite our building a children’s center in Newtown. Within an hour of our arrival in Newtown we had town approval to build and a short time later placed with one of the victims families to represent them as we begin. We are trying to keep the most distance because this is a labor of love and we believe a family should receive the attention to honor the victims instead of a humble non-profit.
Working in the entertainment business since the early ’90’s, we’ve also gained a significant amount of support from many of our brightest lights. Last year I sat with jake Gyllenhaal and his parents to discuss my foundation over lunch in West Village’s San Ambreaus. I came out my front door another time and was able to sit with Rene Zelwegger, we attended a dinner and show with the Estefan’s, and have even had dinner with Madonna. The very next day after Sandy Hook, I met with Ricky Martin and he too expressed not only his willingness but his support in helping Sandy Hook heal. Living in the West Village has afforded me aquaintences with many of our high profile neighbors from Sarah Jessica and Matthew Broderick, Liv Tyler, Julianne Moore, and Hugh Jackman. Having done television and film in LA, I am able to personally call Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Dan Akroyd and his wife Donna Dixon, and call big time agents at CAA like Jane Berliner for advice.
In addition to working with many of these stars, I also am privileged enough to be able to go to East Hampton on the weekends. It’s there that I met Bill Ackman of Pershing Square and Pershing Square Foundation where he and his wife had pledged a billion dollars to non-profit. We’re fortunate enough to be able to say that Pershing Square Foundation acts as our mentor and gives us the utmost support.
Last year Hallmark commemorated 26 one of a kind ornaments to honor each life taken at Sandy Hooke Elementary School. We had also high hopes in having the ornaments hung at the White House. Last year they were set to hang for a week until VP Biden’s office called to inform that they did not match Michelle Obama’s military theme. This year, we are hoping that they are not only generous enough but thoughtful enough to hang them. We do feel a bit like the ‘Misfit Toys’ but hey we are relentless. ABC was also set this year to do something with eh daytime show The View but again, these are the holidays and child slaughter really is a hard issue to face.
My buddy Greg Gorden created the ellen show and we are also in talk with them to attend her 12 days of Christmas. HOWEVER, I was a guest last week with your MAKER segment featuring Brooke Shields, and honestly I couldn’t have been more impressed with you BUILD segment and in order to reach those most vulnerable, it’s not the home-makers watching daytime television, it’s the internet users- much like those using AOL. We’ve also talked with Randi Zuckerberg and believe Facebook would be another great option, but once again AOL has my loyalty. If you watch the segment with Brooke, you can find me at the end. I did in fact have a question, but knowing her as I do I don’t need to put her on the spot. hell, I see her al the time in the neighborhood and as you will learn we go back 28 years. It was also important for me to tell the world how truly great her mother was and how she is very much different then the villain the media has labeled her to me. To me, Teri Shields was my angel and every ounce of humanity I learned was a result of Teri’s.
This 1214, we are launching a nation wide campaign to #STOPBullyingAbuseSTOPSchoolViolenceShooting by asking every student by this time next year to sign a campaign to #STOPBullying. We are asking for your help. We are asking because I believe I am also able to help you. Sandy Hook has gained world wide attention and after supporting Newtown for a #26DaysofKindness, (I know Anne Curry and do not particularly like her so I wanted to one up her #26Acts.. so to speak, of course..) Among my time in Newtown, I had become a member of Newtown and became a part of the community- I felt it was important to be hands on as we build our proposed Children’s Center. I also had the privilege of caring for the memorial and keeping all the flowers fresh, rid of burnt out candles, and re-arranged all the keepsakes- from stuffed animals to cherished possessions… There was an out-poor from all corners of the world and knowing that believe that not only Newtown had suffered but also the world. It’s that very reason why we are launching a campaign to prevent future massacres and run it simultaneously throughout our BUILD.
We have everything we need accept for creating the buzz. We again believe this to be a hard issue to take and consulting with our psychologists who advise us, we were told that the moment you involve someone into your fold, that issue or subject becomes a personal reality, as opposed to a reality that the mind can defer. This unthinkable reality has to be addressed in order for us to begin the necessary steps needed to thwart school violence/abuse that we believe is the greatest aggressor to mass killings.
Join us as we BUILD. Join us as we better care for our kids.
John M. Rinaldi
btw. I do know Hillary as I’ve stated. Not only had I worked with her ex-husband Chad, I knew them both well from the neighborhood. In addition one of my best child-hood buddies is a very close friend.
I’ve already contacted her when she was out this way in the Hampton’s Film Festival, and will reach out again as I would very much like her to be a part of this movement. There are a few things I personally share with Hillary and will simply apologize for her not being able to attend- who knows maybe she’d change her mind if I send her a plane ticket. We have Continental as a sponsor.