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Thread: New interview-Michael's Dream Foundation on the Michael Jackson Children's Hospital

   
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    Exclamation New interview-Michael's Dream Foundation on the Michael Jackson Children's Hospital

    This is from MJFC who did an interview (23rd Dec 2011) with Rebrecca Black who is behind the project "Michael's Dream Foundation"!


    ***
    Ever since the recording of a very drugged Michael Jackson was played in court during the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, there has been a lot of talk in the fan community about how, even in that incapacitated state, Michael's first thought was to reach out to others, to help those less fortunate than himself by building the Michael Jackson's Children's Hospital. And many in the fan community have been asking the question 'wouldn't it be great if we could make his last recorded dream come true?' Rebecca Black asked the same question and she didn't stop there. Rebecca took action to begin the research to discover exactly what steps need to be taken in order to make this dream a reality. MJFC's Joie Collins recently spoke to Rebecca about this fan initiative, which is being spearheaded by the Michael's Dream Foundation.


    JC: Rebecca, tell us about your background. You've been an MJ fan for many years but, you were never active in the fan community until after Michael Jackson passed away. Why is that? RB: I've been an MJ fan since before I can remember, so I must have been little! I can't say that either of my parents were fans, though they did own at least one LP, so I’m not sure where it came from but I have grown up with a love for MJ second to none. It's perhaps not entirely correct to say that I was not previously a part of the community - I joined the UK fan club at a very early age, in fact I still have all the magazines to prove it! I also corresponded with other young fans at the time, and even met one of them to go to a memorabilia fair. I was also lucky enough to see Michael in action a few times. I lost touch with the MJ community in my twenties, when I was simply too busy living life. As the world went viral, I lost touch with the paper-style fan club, and since I didn't own a computer until I was 27 neither was I an “online” fan. And so I came to be out of touch with other MJ fans. I have never stopped being a Michael Jackson fan, but for a while I stopped listening so intensely.
    When the 'This Is It' tour was announced I watched the press conference on TV and felt a surge of pure love that reminded me of what I was missing. I was too late to get tickets for the show but the feeling of seeing him back after all that time, well... everyone reading this will know what that felt like. When he died, I couldn't remember how to breathe. The most intense pain filled every nerve of my body and I didn't know why! I really couldn't understand it – I tried many a time to tell myself I was being silly; I never met him, never knew him, what on earth was the matter with me? But I couldn't pull myself together. Everything about me, my life and my perspectives had changed. I found an online forum of MJ fans and joined. I hesitantly spoke to a few and quickly realized that they all felt exactly the same. Since that day, I've submerged myself in the MJ [fan] community because those feelings are not ridiculed; they are understood and accepted, and here I feel at home.
    JC: Most fans, of course, first heard Michael's wish to create a children's hospital on the tape that was played during the Murray trial and many were struck by how, even in that state, his first thought was about helping others. And many fans at that point expressed a desire to help make his dream become a reality. What do you think it is about Michael that makes his fans want to continue the humanitarian work that he began?
    RB: Michael was special. Not because he spent a lifetime dedicated to helping others, but because he felt their pain as if it were his own. I believe he felt the hurt of every child and every person in distress and this was what propelled him to work so tirelessly for them. When someone you love feels a pain, you feel it too. He did whatever he could to draw attention to those in need – spoke, sang, shouted, screamed and yelled it from the rooftops. There are those fans that listened to his music, and then there are those fans that listened to his heart and heard that cry for help. He instilled in those fans a sense of responsibility and love and caring that few, if any, other artists have ever done. The world thinks that it has lost a great entertainer, and so they have. But the real tragedy for them is the loss of the humanitarian, and they haven’t even the knowledge to recognize this. Who will visit hospitals and orphanages with toys, clothes and blankets now? Who will organize relief for those in need? Who will dedicate untold time, money and passion to helping those less fortunate? His fans will. Because it's the way we've been taught, and let’s face it - we had a great teacher.
    JC: How did the idea for this project come about?
    RB: It came about exactly as you say above in your last question. While listening to the live feed of the trial, someone tweeted that it would be amazing to do this for Michael. I replied in agreement and found that I could not get the idea out of my head. I posed a similar question on Facebook the next day, and decided to start the group with the sole intention of seeing what others thought, and how much support there might be out there for this idea. Within hours there were hundreds of people, and a structure needed to be put in place; fast. Sam McCormack, a fellow fan in the UK, contacted me to offer help and express how passionate she was about the project and to let me know that she could set up a website if needed. We had met at Michael’s birthday party in London, an event that she had organized, and I knew her organizational skills to be phenomenal. Since we were familiar with each other, we gravitated into a team, quickly joined by Chris with whom I had previously worked on several projects. We came up with the idea of pledges so that we would have a tangible form of support – a place people could look at to see exactly what we were pulling together. Everything took off so fast from there I can barely remember!

    JC: Rebecca, I know that a lot of this information can be found on your website but, why begin with the Michael's Dream Foundation? Explain that to us.
    RB: There are many fans that have asked, or rather insisted, that the Estate be involved in this project. I understand their views, and can agree, particularly with regards to recent events within the fan community. I would love for the Estate to be involved – I do believe that it would give credence to this project that is difficult otherwise. But, as much respect as I have for the Estate, I know that they are busy, and such projects are not their priority. If we were to wait for the Estate to approve this project, we must ask the question 'would it ever happen?' There are many fans that insist on Estate approval before they will support the project, but I think many would agree that a massive fan support would be needed for the Estate to take notice. A rather chicken and egg situation. I, for one, don't want to spend the next few years campaigning for someone else to do this for Michael. I want the fans to give this to Michael, because I believe that we owe it him. I have a great deal of respect for the work of the Estate and am conscious that we must not take any steps which may inconvenience or trouble them. If we can pull enough fan support together and prove that it’s a valid project I have no doubt that both fan base and Estate can come together at a later date.
    Michael's Dream Foundation has been established as a starting base. Its only goal is to raise money towards this project. Although the company itself has been established there are still many steps to be taken before any money can be accepted. We aim to protect not only the fans and their investment in the hospital, but ourselves as well. Being a registered company, obliged to return monthly accounts, we are subject to strict laws that mean one wrong step could be disastrous. In the meantime, we continue to collect pledges of support only. These pledges are listed on our website, and this is where we hope to show the world, including the Estate, what the MJ fan community is capable of when pulling together. So for those that will only support the project upon Estate approval, I have only one question – how do you propose we get Estate approval without support?
    JC: That's a very good point to make. Rebecca, who are the individuals running the Dream Foundation and why is based in the UK?
    RB: The individuals behind Michael's Dream Foundation are myself & Sam McCormack, who is currently the “webmaster” for the MJCH, if you like. The company has been set up in the UK because both Sam and I are from the UK and therefore subject to the laws of England in our personal lives. It made sense that any company we were involved with also be subject to those same laws that we are familiar with. Being a British citizen, I think I might have had trouble trying to establish a company in the US. If all company information is provided, the country of its formation shouldn't prove to be an issue.
    JC: You are really going to great lengths to ensure that every step of this project is completely legal and above board right from the start. Can you tell us about some of the precautions you've taken to make sure this project is done right?
    RB: This project may have originated as a vague idea in the minds of many fans, distraught by the stress of following the trial of Conrad Murray, but the people behind the MJCH have taken it extremely seriously since that day. I would hope that this shows in our reluctance to take part in any fund-raising activities until we are absolutely certain that everything is on track.
    One of our main goals with the setting up of Michael’s Dream Foundation has been absolute transparency. Not all information is available yet, only because it is not yet finished. Before donations begin, all corresponding information will be published for those that wish to make their own investigations to be sure of where their money will be going. There are many within the fan base that know us personally, but there are a very many who do not. I understand and appreciate their need to be sure of who we are and what we’re doing, and it is these fans that we have in mind when proceeding. In the case of some recent projects, funds have been sent to one individual, trusting that they will then use said funds for the purpose at hand. In the case of Michael’s Dream Foundation, all funds raised will go directly into a bank account associated with the registered company, meaning that we have to provide monthly accounts to the relevant authorities. The bank account requires the physical presence of 3 signatories to release any of the funds, one of whom is a legal professional. The bank has also been instructed not to issue bank cards, pin numbers and check books. There is no easy access to any monies raised, and any future withdrawals must of course be accounted for as per monthly accounts. Once the charity has reached the £5,000 mark, we are obliged to register ourselves with the Charity Commission. This provides an exceptional safeguard since we are then fully regulated by an independent third-party body who can investigate the charity at any point in time. We must also provide them with regular accounts, and a failure to do so could result in charges against us.
    I mentioned earlier that as well as protecting the fans investments, we are also concerned that those behind the company be protected. We all have families, work, personal commitments, and by no means do we wish to be pulled up in court just because we have missed a vital piece of paperwork. Our names and personal lives have been made available for all to see, and we are ourselves accountable to those investing in the Foundation.
    JC: Can you explain to us exactly what it takes to establish a hospital? That sounds like an absolutely huge undertaking.
    RB: It is certainly a huge undertaking – the biggest the MJ [fan] community will ever have been a part of. It is in fact so immense in itself that it’s quite overwhelming when you stop to think. But, since the enormity of any single project would never have deterred Michael, so it should not deter us. In fact, I believe it would have encouraged him even more – he aimed for the brightest star he could reach, and I feel that the MJCH is that star for us.
    Preliminary research has given us a fair idea of the amount of work that needs to be done and the areas that will need to be studied. A massive amount of research still needs to be done – this alone could take years, a lot of it being relative to the funds raised. There perhaps seems little point in thoroughly researching permits, permissions, and licenses and building contractors without first being certain of location. Since we believe that the Third World will provide us with a more viable option for establishing Michael’s hospital, a lot of our research efforts have focused around here, though we have also investigated the possibility of affiliating a hospital with a University or research institution that would be capable of undertaking the running costs. As you can see, there are many options and alternatives.
    JC: Realistically, how much money would be necessary to begin the hospital (i.e. building costs, running costs, etc.)?
    RB: It depends entirely on where the hospital is built. If it were to be built in a first world country such as the US, we would estimate somewhere between 200-400 million dollars for building costs alone. A hospital in a third world country would cost a great deal less, and thus would likely be much more achievable for the fan base working alone.
    JC: Rebecca, I'm not trying to put a damper on this project, but I do have to ask a very tough question here. What makes you believe that the Michael Jackson fan community could actually pull this off?
    RB: The Michael Jackson fan community is by far the biggest fan community in the world. Not only is it the biggest, but it’s special for many reasons, not least of which is the pure union of love that Michael brought us together with. It’s an unfortunate fact that there now exist ‘factions,’ for want of a better word, within the community that has a tendency to cause difficulties. However, I have seen the power of the MJ fan community in action and I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that we are capable of anything we put our minds to, when we pull together.
    JC: You are right about the power of the fan community. Over the last two years, we've all seen what can be done when the community pulls together. Like the uncovering of Michael's name from the Gardner Elementary School or the stopping of the airing of the autopsy on the Discovery channel. Those were two very triumphant wins that wouldn't have happened without the fan community coming together and raising our voices as one.
    RB: So there lies the key – I do believe that we can pull this off, but only working together. When I specify time and again that our goal is attracting support, it is for this reason – we all need to be pulling in the same direction.
    JC: Recently, there has been some unfortunate happenings in the fan community in terms of scams going on in the name of charity. For example, the One Rose for Michael charity where the person behind it just disappeared with quite a lot of money that fans had donated to that cause. What would you say to those fans who are now very skeptical of any fan-run charity project?
    RB: The MJCH team very recently released a statement with regards to just this. The One Rose for Michael initiative has had a devastating impact on the fan community, including myself personally. For many it is not just the personal loss of money, but the tragedy that the children we aimed to protect with vaccinations have now been neglected. It has made fans understandably wary of all projects working for the good that Michael instilled in us. For any projects that now wish to survive, there is an increased need to prove legality and stability, and to protect not only ourselves but also the fans making future investments. The demands of some fans that the Estate be involved in the MJCH result from scams such as these, but since they [the Estate] are not currently endorsing these kinds of projects, we feel that we have no choice but to move forward to make the change that Michael asked us to, without having to stand back and wait for someone else to do it for us. He always said, “it starts with us.” I take that to mean exactly that – it starts with each one of us, not the Estate. We understand that Estate endorsement or involvement is being requested by many to help them feel safe. In the meantime though, there are other ways to feel safe like doing some minimal research. The MJCH Team has so far made every possible attempt at ensuring legality and transparency so the fans know exactly what and who are behind the project and the organization. There are no secrets and nothing to hide. All pertinent information to date is contained on the project website, and is all verifiable.
    I would sincerely hope that the safeguards we are putting into place and the professionalism with which we conduct ourselves, would help to ease people’s minds, and allow us to move forward, and with time and dedication to the cause we can prove to those now skeptical that the MJCH is worthy of Michael’s name.
    JC: I know you have attempted to contact the Estate of Michael Jackson about this project and I'm assuming you still have not heard back from them. If you do hear from them in the future, what would you hope their position would be?
    RB: On starting the project we sent a letter to the Estate to inform them of what we would hope to achieve. This letter did not necessarily demand endorsement or approval, but more asked them advice on how to proceed so that we did not encroach upon their duties. We did not receive a direct response, though we did receive a copy of the statement received publicly advising the fan base that they had charitable plans for the money Michael left and to be patient as they worked on its announcement. Nothing with regards to a hospital was mentioned in this statement, though any charitable cause they choose to use Michael’s funds for would be terrific. Since then, I don’t believe there has been a further statement. We do have a second letter prepared with the details of the Foundation, for exactly the same reasons – we have no wish to cause them problems, and we would dearly love for them to be aware of what we are currently doing. Whether a response is received or not, we fully intend to maintain contact with them. We feel that it is important that they be acknowledged.
    However, not being endorsed by the Estate is not necessarily an automatic negative. We have not been denied approval, and we do believe that they are watching with a neutral stance, to see what we are capable of, and to make sure we are serious. Any reaction from the Estate will come in time but it is important that we continue to work with both dedication and patience until that day. I very much hope that they will eventually not only support and endorse the MJCH but help us achieve it.
    JC: Is the Jackson Family aware of this project?
    RB: A few members of our team have made efforts to contact members of the family to inform them of the project though no definitive response has been received by any as yet. We have just over 1450 pledges of support on our website, and for a community of well over a million people, that is merely a drop in the ocean. Can we really expect these people to pay attention to the demands of 1450 people? I believe that both Estate and family support will come with the growth of the project, dependent upon the MJ [fan] community uniting for this common cause. If anyone reading this interview would like to help us in this capacity, we’d love to here from them.
    JC: You are currently taking suggestions from fans on your website as to where the hospital should be located, is that correct?
    RB: That is correct – the location poll, as it has become known, has been there since the beginning, when the MJCH was just a vague idea. None of us claim to be experts in building hospitals, but the MJ [fan] community is huge – between us all, we have the skills necessary. The poll was really a discussion point - as said earlier, the location of the hospital directly correlates to how much money becomes available.
    JC: I believe your website mentions that you are looking into the possibility of taking over an existing hospital or even adding a wing onto an existing hospital instead of building from scratch. Are these alternatives something the Dream Foundation would seriously consider? And do you think these alternatives would be preferable in terms of the money it would take to build from scratch?
    RB: Again, it would directly relate to how much money we can raise, which is again dependent upon such things as Estate and family support. In an ideal scenario, both Estate and family would be supportive and money would be easily raised. In this instance a fully blown hospital could likely be built anywhere in the world. In the worst case of the fan base working alone, there is a possibility that we would be limited to the extension of an existing hospital, or as has been suggested, the inclusion of game rooms in existing hospitals. When establishing a company in the UK, its purpose must be clearly laid out. The constitution of Michael’s Dream Foundation has been worded to allow for all of these possibilities, so yes, they would all be considered.
    JC: Rebecca, what would the specific aim of the Michael Jackson's Children's Hospital be?
    RB: The Michael Jackson's Children's Hospital would aim to be everything that Michael himself specified: not only a place for the healing of sick children, but a haven for them, centered around love. He consistently expressed concerns that not only were these children sick, but they were depressed and psychologically weary. He put as much emphasis on curing this as their physical ailments, by bringing love back to the forefront, and providing psychological nourishment in the form of games and movies. The hospital would aim to provide this kind of atmosphere, to the extent that it would provide children with the required medical treatment, while at the same time providing a form of escapism from their illnesses. Michael put a great deal of faith in the power of the mind in recoveries – we believe in his ideas for entertainment within a hospital environment aimed to provide that needed boost for the children.
    JC: You're not accepting donations yet. When do expect to begin accepting donations and will international fans also be able to donate?
    RB: Firstly, yes a bank account associated with Michael's Dream Foundation has been established with HSBC and is capable of receiving international donations. As yet, no corresponding PayPal account has been opened, but as I said there are a good few steps to pursue yet. There is much paperwork to be processed, as well as completing a new website that would be capable of taking donations. Holding people's money is a huge responsibility, made even more so by the amount of money we would hope to be raising. Because we are accountable in the face of the HMRC in the UK, absolutely everything must be in place before we would be comfortable accepting, and being responsible for, that kind of money. I would estimate another 3 months at the very least during which time our aim is collecting the support necessary to demonstrate that we can do this.
    JC: And how can fans support this effort besides monetary donations?
    RB: There are many ways fans can support us. As specified, our primary goal, besides preparing ourselves for the eventuality of raising funds, is to maximize support for the project within the community. As the project grew, we began recruiting representatives for the MJCH in each country, or state in the case of the US, in order to help us spread the word to every corner of the world. By doing this, we have managed to establish a massive worldwide network of fans working together – we currently have 48 primary representatives, many of whom have built small teams for their regions, and we still need many more. If this is to be a fan effort, it must involve each and every member of the fan base. For those that may not have the time to dedicate to such an effort, there are still many ways to spread the word, and any number of internet sites in which to do so. For anyone outside of the community to take notice of the MJCH, the pledges of support are of utmost importance.
    JC: Are there any plans to make Michael "present" in the hospital once it's built - like in the form of paintings or a statue, etc.?
    RB: Nothing has been discussed, though it is an interesting point. I would hope for a plaque at the very least. Of course the very name of the hospital would be dependent upon Estate approval, so things like this remain to be seen.
    JC: Rebecca, I am very impressed with everything you and your team have done up to this point and I believe many fans will be impressed as well. But, I have to ask, if for some reason the project cannot be carried out, what will happen to the fan's donations?
    RB: Our terms and conditions, which will be published on the new site once donations are operational, cover this point well. If for some reason the project is deemed invalid and cannot proceed, all donations will be refunded directly to the donors. It would be unfair to reallocate funds raised for one project to something else. Because of the way a company is established in the UK, any monies raised must be used only for the purpose laid out in a company's constitution, referred to earlier. In our case, monies raised can be used only for the building of, or establishing of, or extension to a hospital, nothing else.

    MJFC would like to thank Rebecca Black for taking the time to talk with us about the Michael's Dream Foundation and the MJCH project. If you would like to learn more about this fan initiative and how you can help, please visit -

    www.michaeljacksonschildrenshospital.com
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    Default Re: New interview-Michael's Dream Foundation on the Michael Jackson Children's Hospital

    Personally, I think it's a great project, and I'd love to see it happen. But, if I believe given (lots of) time, we could gather funds to build such a project, I dont quite understand how we would cover the huge running costs. You need a very reliable and constant source of money, which is something I'm not sure we can count on.

    Maybe it would be more efficient to gather funds to add children wings to already existing hospitals all over the world, named after Michael. And, we could also send medical supplies to third world hospitals that desperately need them.


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    Default Re: New interview-Michael's Dream Foundation on the Michael Jackson Children's Hospital

    Ben, I agree. I'd love to see this become a reality, but financially it may not be feasible.

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    Default Re: New interview-Michael's Dream Foundation on the Michael Jackson Children's Hospital

    Well after the recent events of fans taking advantage of fans donations and given the size of this initiative, I think Estate needs to be involved for such thing to get a major support from the fans.

    Although I like to see Michael Jackson Children's Hospital to become reality, I don't see myself donating to a charity created by two unknown people. Sorry.
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    Default Re: New interview-Michael's Dream Foundation on the Michael Jackson Children's Hospital

    Quote Originally Posted by ivy View Post
    Well after the recent events of fans taking advantage of fans donations and given the size of this initiative, I think Estate needs to be involved for such thing to get a major support from the fans.

    Although I like to see Michael Jackson Children's Hospital to become reality, I don't see myself donating to a charity created by two unknown people. Sorry.

    That's another thing that bugs me...
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    Default Re: New interview-Michael's Dream Foundation on the Michael Jackson Children's Hospital

    Quote Originally Posted by ivy View Post
    Well after the recent events of fans taking advantage of fans donations and given the size of this initiative, I think Estate needs to be involved for such thing to get a major support from the fans.

    Although I like to see Michael Jackson Children's Hospital to become reality, I don't see myself donating to a charity created by two unknown people. Sorry.
    Yes 2 inexperienced people in this area who have no feasable plan in place yet. They dont even know where to begin.
    Im all for supporting and getting fans on board to show support untill they have a plan in place but will not donate untill
    they have attorneys, doctors architechs involed that know all the ins and outs, the legalities and what it will take to build
    such a hospital and keep it running ets etc. The is HUGE undertaking and will be millions and millions of dollars just to run such a hospital let a lone build one. I can invision this becoming a reality but not without Michael's own Estate involved. I think even the Estate knows this is somthing very huge and they would not even go into it lightly without having a realistic, feasable plan in place.
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    Default Re: New interview-Michael's Dream Foundation on the Michael Jackson Children's Hospital

    I certainly support the initiative for a children's hospital. There is alot to consider and research when embarking on project such as this. I know I say nothing new here as many have expressed the same. Having said that, I will continue to show support as much as I can because I do know that anything is possible if we visualize and believe. I think the interview addresses many questions regarding what has been achieved thus far and what still needs to be done. As we all know when we have embarked on our own projects, we have learned much and we also encountered people who have been able to help. So I keep hope that this in some way can be done. As far as donations, I will hold off myself, but I do feel they expect this as it was stated they would not even consider accepting donations for another 3 months. There is alot to be done yet and Ms. Black even states that. We truly are our own co-creators and if we believe, I do think it's possible. I'm not being idealistic here, I'm keeping the faith. Michael did dream big and there is no reason why we can't dream big either. This is just how I have decided to perceive this situation.
    Last edited by windy09; 26-12-2011 at 09:03 PM. Reason: updated comments

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    Default Re: New interview-Michael's Dream Foundation on the Michael Jackson Children's Hospital

    Without utopia and idealism, the world would never have changed. I agree we can do it, but we have to be extremely cautious, because it would be terrible if it ended badly.
    Grief is love's unwillingness to let go




    Tanomë nauvan illumë, Mike. Whatever happens...











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    Quote Originally Posted by qbee View Post
    Yes 2 inexperienced people in this area who have no feasable plan in place yet. They dont even know where to begin.
    Im all for supporting and getting fans on board to show support untill they have a plan in place but will not donate untill
    they have attorneys, doctors architechs involed that know all the ins and outs, the legalities and what it will take to build
    such a hospital and keep it running ets etc. The is HUGE undertaking and will be millions and millions of dollars just to run such a hospital let a lone build one. I can invision this becoming a reality but not without Michael's own Estate involved. I think even the Estate knows this is somthing very huge and they would not even go into it lightly without having a realistic, feasable plan in place.
    I agree!

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