The award recognizes an individual or group whose work exemplifies or inspires the humanitarian values of human dignity, respect, compassion and the protection and assistance implied in the Fundamental Principles of the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network.
Penn was chosen because of his tireless work in Haiti since the catastrophic earthquake on January 12, 2010. Shortly after learning of the quake, Penn established the J/P Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO), with the goal to help lift the nation of Haiti out of the rubble and give the Haitian people a better future. Earlier this year, Penn was named Ambassador at Large for Haiti by President Michel Martelly. Penn is the first non-Haitian to take on this role.
J/P HRO has become a leader in Haiti across multiple sectors seeking to improve living conditions in camps and surrounding neighborhoods by clearing rubble, and providing medical services, education and enrichment programs, housing construction and neighborhood redevelopment. J/P HRO is dedicated to saving lives and bringing sustainable programs to the Haitian people quickly and effectively.
“Many people – both famous and not famous – generously gave their time and support for the people of Haiti in the days following the earthquake. What sets Ambassador Penn apart is his sustained dedication over the past two and a half years to improving the conditions for Haitians affected by the devastating earthquake,” said David Meltzer, Senior Vice President, International Services, American Red Cross. “He continues to raise funds and attention for Haiti, has spent months in camps and communities working directly with beneficiaries, and consistently advocates on behalf of Haitians with the highest levels of government, civil society and media to improve people’s lives.”
Penn and the American Red Cross worked together in the early days following the outbreak of cholera to offload and deliver medical supplies and equipment. He personally intervened with the Government of Haiti on behalf of the American Red Cross, and he has publicly spoken in support of American Red Cross relief and recovery efforts in Haiti.
Penn, a two time Academy Award winning actor, a film writer, producer and director, is committed to the multiple social causes and has received numerous honors and awards for his efforts. He most recently was presented with the 2012 Peace Summit Award at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates.
The Red Cross also presented two other awards that evening. The Harriman Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service was presented to Deborah MacSwain and Elaine M. Lyerly, for their dedication and commitment to the mission of American Red Cross. The Susan Hassmiller Nursing Award was presented to the American Red Cross, Southern Minnesota Region for their nurse leadership pilot program.
Source: Red Cross