Most people know John Bon Jovi as a singer and he had a very prolific music career. At 57 years of age, the songwriter also has many different irons in the fire. He was also an actor but he is a philanthropist at heart. He loves giving back to the community, but rather than doing so to be in the limelight, he does so behind the scenes.
One of the ways that he gives back to the community is by opening two community restaurants with his wife, Doretha Hurley. Those restaurants help individuals with limited resources to enjoy a free meal without being judged.
The JBJ Soul Kitchen was opened in Red Bank, New Jersey in 2011. They wanted to feed and empower those who were unable to feed themselves. There are no prices on the menu but diners can make a suggested donation of $20 if they are able. Even if they are not able to make the donation, they are welcome to come in and enjoy a delicious, free meal. There are also customers who take advantage of the “Pay It Forward Program where each additional $20 donation provides meals for those who are unable to donate.”
According to a report on Billboard, another restaurant was opened by the couple in 2016. It is in Toms River New Jersey. At a press conference, the singer said, “This location is even larger, we are going to have an even greater impact on the community of Toms River. Our mission has always been to affect positive change and address the issues of hunger and homelessness. We are expanding our mission with a network of partners and resources to meet the needs of the community of Toms River.”
The foundation’s website reports that the JBJ Soul Kitchens have served 105,893 meals so far and only 54% were paid for with donations. He continues to say that those who walk into the restaurant are served food of the highest quality. “JBJ Soul Kitchen serves a 3-course meal based on American Regional cuisine, beginning with the option of a soup or salad. Each guest also has the choice of an entrée such as a fish, meat, or vegetarian selection. The meal is finished with a freshly made dessert. Our chefs prepare many of the dishes with natural, locally sourced ingredients from our garden or the JBJ Soul Kitchen Farm,” reveals the website.
The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation does more than simply serve up food to those who need it. He talked to CNN about the mission of the foundation, saying the strategy is to help “one soul at a time.” He added, “I thought ‘how can we bring people together in an affordable, accessible way?'” His attention was drawn to the homeless on a harsh Northeast winter night when saw a man sleeping on a grate in the dead of winter. “Right there it all crystallized for me. It didn’t matter if you were young, old, black or white, Republican or Democrat… this was an issue that could affect anyone,” he said.
He wanted to make a difference so he also helped to make 500 affordable homes available to those who need it in 10 different states. “Most Americans live two paychecks away from problems, and I thought this is something we can do. And most importantly I didn’t need the scientists to find the cure,” he explained. Speaking about what’s next for his community restaurants, he said, “Now the question is ‘do we want to open two or three or 10… or do we go really big?’ Well, we will definitely see growth. The question is incremental. The key to our success is empowering the individual,” he said.
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