We’ve all heard stories of celebrities adopting children from impoverished nations around the world. But here’s something you may not know: Los Angeles County has the highest number of kids in foster care of any county in America. At least one actress is dedicated to helping them through The Alliance for Children’s Rights, which provides children in or at risk of entering foster care with legal, social, and educational services. For the last four years, Angie Harmon has served on the nonprofit’s board. A devoted mother to three daughters of her own, the Rizzoli & Isles actress (the third season of her TNT hit debuts this summer) has also been instrumental in creating an annual mentoring event to help impart life skills to children in foster care, and on March 1, she’ll be on hand to celebrate the foundation’s 20th anniversary at a dinner gala at The Beverly Hilton.
Harmon arrives at the 16th Annual Dinner gala.
Angie Harmon and friends at The Alliance for Children’s Rights’ 15th Annual Dinner.
Why did you decide to get involved with helping kids in foster care? ANGIE HARMON: Anything that has to do with children and aiding them is something I’m really passionate about. I know a lot of actors who’ve adopted, and I understand going to another country to adopt a child—our system is definitely not the easiest way to go, so I get that. But so many of our own here at home are hurting.
How did you first find out about The Alliance for Children’s Rights? AH: I was invited to one of its dinners, and it was such a moving event—everything was topnotch, first class. And I thought, What happens to these kids when they graduate from this program? That night I realized I couldn’t turn a blind eye.
What does the foundation do for kids in foster care, many of whom are abused or disabled? AH: The Alliance helps the kids nobody else wants to help. They love the kids nobody wants to love. They cover everything: legal rights, jobs, mentoring, school, buses—anything and everything they can do to help a child, they do.
What have you done personally to get involved? AH: I helped create a Thanksgiving event for all the kids graduating. We have different stations where we teach them how to set a table and do other basic things like that. These kids don’t have the safety net of parents who can do simple things like take them to Target to get pots and pans or help them with job applications. They don’t have holidays; they don’t have Christmas morning; they don’t have birthday parties. I don’t think I was truly aware of all the things we do as parents that subconsciously represent family and love. These kids don’t have anything like that.
What do you enjoy most about being an advocate for the organization? AH: It’s so rewarding; I would do anything for them. They asked me to be the auctioneer [for the 2011 gala], and I’m bad at asking people for money—I can’t even ask my husband for money. But I said, “Only for you and these kids would I do that,” and I went for it. And I tried to get [Law & Order creator and executive producer] Dick Wolf to give every dollar he ever made.
Have you become close with those behind The Alliance? AH: I absolutely love them—working with them is so rewarding, so eye-opening. [President and CEO] Janis Spire is amazing. Her entire life is dedicated to helping these kids. My job [as an actor] is to pretend to be sad or to emotionally go there, but these people do it for real. I think I’m tough, but there’s no way I could do [what they do] on a daily basis.
Why do you think quality foster care is such an important issue? AH: This is America. These are our kids. This is our future. If we don’t invest in them and let them know they’re loved and cared for, where are we going to be? It’s sad we’re not aware of how many kids there are out there who are lost and in need of help.