While much of Hollywood lent their voices and wallets in the immediate aftermath of the tragic 7.0 magnitude Haiti earthquake 2010 that claimed the lives of at least 150,000 people five years ago, Sean Penn has stuck with it for the long haul.
The Oscar-winning actor continues to spend more time on Haitian relief efforts than he does making movies, fronting the J/P Haitian Relief Organization.
On Saturday evening, Penn rallied famous cohorts including Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Salma Hayek to honor former President Bill Clinton at the star-studded 4th Annual Help Haiti Home Gala, raising $6 million for the cause along the way.
After thanking government officials, former intelligence officials (hint Valerie Plame), and United States military for their service took the country, Penn praised Clinton -- who took home J/P HRO's Louverture Medal of Commitment -- for his relief efforts on the ground.
"(Clinton) sat on a log in the center of a community of 60,000 displaced Haitians for hours, asking questions…What did they need? How could he help?... He focused on, and learned about those in need," Penn told guests. "And he showed them respect, and acknowledged their dignity… As UN Special Envoy to Haiti, he shepherded more than six billion dollars in disbursements and debt-forgiveness following the earthquake. Haiti and J/P HRO are grateful for his commitment."
Penn also pondered "how different" the world would be now if Clinton had been President during the September 11 attacks.
"Only the U.S. constitution could sideline his presidency... As the administration that followed squandered the surplus with misguided wars," Penn said. "The devastation we face today would have been tempered today if he (Clinton) had continued as our commander in chief."
The former President was the center of attention at the event, taking selfies and shaking hands with excited guests.
"Everyone knows politics is just show business for ugly people," Clinton said with a smile, later stressing the importance for us all not to "patronize poor people."
"Haitians need investments, education... They don't have the systems we have in place," he said.
According to Haitian officials, five years after the disaster - which displaced 50 percent of residents - 95 percent of those left without a home now have a stable roof over their heads, with many back in their original neighborhoods. J/P HRO supports residents in the marginalized, high-density Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Delmas 32 and surrounding areas affected by the 2010 earthquake transition to resilient, sustainable and prosperous communities.
"I hope we'll be here next year, supporting Bill Clinton's wife running for President," historian/writer Douglas Brinkley, who stepped in last minute to MC the event in replace of Anderson Cooper, concluded to an applauding crowd.