Patricia Arquette Gives Love to Haiti
By Michael Ventre
Sanitation is usually a dirty word, but actress Patricia Arquette wouldn’t mind being synonymous with it. That’s because she’s been to Haiti twice in the past year with her GiveLove foundation, helping create sustainable solutions to the sanitation crisis that developed after a 7.0 earthquake devastated the country on January 12, 2010.
But that’s only one facet of a broader effort Arquette and others—such as Beverly Hills philanthropist Shanit Schwartz, who will cohost a September 28th fundraiser and art auction, along with Arquette and GiveLove cofounder Rosetta Millington-Getty—have embarked upon to help the ravaged nation. GiveLove is involved in providing clean water, food, aid to schools, and more to victims in need.
A native of Chicago who now calls Hollywood home, Arquette is best known for her starring role in the NBC drama series Medium. But she will soon be seen in the indie feature A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, written and directed by her friend Roman Coppola, along with Bill Murray and Charlie Sheen. And she is also still working on Richard Linklater’s 12-year film about a boy growing up and his relationship with his divorced parents.
Although acting continues to be center stage in her professional life, it is her devotion to the Haitian people and GiveLove that consumes her heart and dominates her time. It’s not much of a surprise to those who know her, because she has been active in charities for most of her adult life, especially in the fight against breast cancer, a disease that claimed her mother in 1997. Now Haiti poses a unique challenge. As she says in her foundation’s mission statement: “Sanitation is the keystone to solving so many problems in the world.” She spoke recently about why the cause means so much to her:
You went to Haiti shortly after the disaster. What was your immediate reaction?
PATRICIA ARQUETTE: I thought to myself, We have to do something. I thought maybe we could bring shipping containers down there to use as dorms and classrooms. We also did research on sanitation solutions—Port-au-Prince is a big city like Los Angeles, but it never had a fully functional municipal sanitation system. It was a real health disaster. So we started looking at solutions.
What are some of the other challenges GiveLove has faced in Haiti?
PA: One of the other problems Haiti has is deforestation, so it has poor soil structure and water pollution. We started looking at affordable solutions. We came to composting. Really nobody wanted to talk about sanitation at that point, but we started doing these green school programs. We demonstrated composting and how to build simple compost toilets.
What prompted you and Rosetta to formally create the GiveLove foundation?
PA: For the first year we worked with OneXOne in Canada, because we were waiting for our 501k status. When we got our tax status, we continued on our own. It was important for me because I was asking all these people for money and I wanted to oversee where all the money was going and be a steward for that money.
What are your fundraising goals for the September 28th fundraiser and art auction?
PA: I would like to raise at least $200,000, but if we could raise more that would be really incredible. If we could raise $400,000, it would be even more amazing.
Artist Sterling Ruby will curate the event. What can attendees expect?
PA: People in the art community really know this man’s work, so they’re excited to see whom he picks as artists and the pieces he chooses. All these collectors from all over the world are invited. Many of them come to Los Angeles for the Art Platform—Los Angeles fair. This is the event we’re going to invite them to.
photography by valeri macon/getty images (arquette at benefit)
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.