LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Actor Kirk Douglas surprised attendees at a Los Angeles Mission gala by announcing he would make a $5 million donation to the Skid Row facility, doubling his original pledge to the organization, a mission official said today.
The “Spartacus” and “Paths of Glory” star made the announcement Wednesday as he was giving an award to his wife for her work with the mission’s Anne Douglas Center for Women. The gala marked the center’s 20th anniversary.
“Thank you for teaching me that caring is sharing,” the 95-year-old Douglas told his wife as he announced his new pledge before an audience of 200 mission supporters at the Four Seasons Hotel.
Anne Douglas said her husband’s generosity would help realize her “vision of helping the homeless men and women of Los Angeles.”
Los Angeles Mission President Herb Smith said the donation would have far-reaching effects.
“This wonderful legacy will make it possible to help individuals create their own legacy,” he said. “It will open great opportunities to begin to solve one of the more intractable problems facing society. We are beyond grateful for the support the Douglas family has shown the Los Angeles Mission.”
Anne Douglas decided to work for the development of a separate facility for women after visiting the Los Angeles Mission with her husband in the late 1980s, Smith said.
“The story is that Mr. and Mrs. Douglas were visiting the old Los Angeles Mission in the late 1980s and she asked about homeless women,” he said. “There were some sheets hanging from a wire, and they pulled them back to show a couple of bunk beds.”
Construction of the Anne Douglas Center for Women was completed and the facility opened on Feb. 14, 1992.
In July, the Douglases made an initial $5 million pledge to support the continuing work of the mission and the women’s center, which provides services such as showers, personal counseling, referrals and food and clothing.
Also at Wednesday’s gala, the second annual Anne Douglas Center for Women Award for outstanding continuous work on behalf of the center was given to Dr. Betty McMicken, an associate professor at Cal State Long Beach’s Communicative Disorders Department, who has volunteered at the center for the past five years.
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