Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Charles Oakley, the Butlers ‘Giving Hope’ to Homeless on Skid Row [EUR EXCLUSIVE]

Charles Oakley
Charles Oakley

*”We’re just trying to make a difference. That’s all. Just trying to make a difference,” said casting director Leah Daniels-Butler (“Empire” and many others), in an exclusive interview with EUR/Electronic Urban Report, about why she, as well as her husband Henry Butler and NBA great Charles Oakley, decided to host the “Who I Am: Homeless But Human” event on Skid Row in Los Angeles last weekend.

“Help Give Care is the name of a non-profit that my husband and I have started and we started it because we have a son who is homeless – homeless by choice, actually,” said Daniels-Butler. “I think when it happened – when he went through what he went through – when he decided he wanted to check out of life..is what prompted us to do this.”

“I think before, when we would drive by and we’d see homeless people, we would just kind of automatically assume that maybe they abused drugs or something – other than (looking at them as) a regular human being”, she continued. “You always think maybe these people have a mental issue or something. Once it happened to us and it was close to us, we just looked at it differently.

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Honoree Leah Daniels-Butler attends the Seventh Annual Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards at The Wilshire Ebell Theatre on November 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
(Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images North America)

Daniels-Butler said she had always looked at homeless people as “other” people.

“I don’t do that anymore”, she said. So, I see this event as an opportunity to see people as human beings. At the end of the day, we’re all human beings. Just because you have an issue – whether it’s drug related, health related or something else, we’re still all human beings.”

“You may be one paycheck away from being homeless”, she continued. “Because I know that’s a real thing too, you know? There’s people who literally live paycheck to paycheck. So I think that’s what really prompted us to start this – and it’s the third year we’re doing it.”

Daniels-Butler said that her husband and she also were glad to be working together with Oakley, the NBA great most famous for his stints with the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks, who has his own non-profit to help the homeless.

“He and my husband decided that they were going to try and figure this out and do something good for the community”, she said. “BET Weekend (June 21-23) just seemed like a good time to do it, to capitalize on what they’re already doing and piggyback on it and get the free promotion.”

“The goal today is really just to raise awareness and to feed homeless people in this community.”

Oakley also spoke exclusively to EURweb – and said the mission of the day was simple.

“It’s about giving back. It’s about helping people who are trying to get through life”, he said. “This is Skid Row. You see a lot of people hanging out on the streets. Nowhere to get a meal. Nowhere to use a bathroom. Nowhere to do nothing but lie in the streets. So we’re trying to empower people and give them hope in life – give them a chance and a good meal and meet different people and have a good time.”

Oakley has been doing a lot of different things through his Charles Oakley Foundation for years and said it’s because everyone  can always do something to help others.

Leah Daniels-Butler and husband Henry
Leah Daniels-Butler and husband Henry

“I’ve been doing this since I got into the league – giving back. I don’t go around saying, ‘Support this'”, he said. “At the foundation, we just do what we can, while we can.”

“We always need sponsors, so hopefully people will see and read about what we’re doing and say, ‘Hey! Let me help these guys!’ We’re not begging for help, but everyone always needs help.”

Oakley also said his relationship with Henry Butler and Leah Daniels-Butler helped make the “Homeless But Human” event a reality.

“Henry is a good friend of mine, who lives here in Los Angeles”, said Oakley. “We always talk about doing things and we just decided to do something like this and give back. The All-Star weekend we had stuff before, but the real breakout was here in Los Angeles, right here on Skid Row, where we did something about 2 or 3 years ago. It was so successful, we told them we’d be back to do a barbecue and now we’re doing it.”

When asked why he felt an event like “Homeless But Human” is important, Oakley got emotional and said the answer was obvious.

“Did you walk here or were you blindfolded in the car? You don’t think it was important when you came and saw people on the streets? Coming and asking people for money?”

“That’s bad. We don’t want that”, he continued. “We want people to go up and give people money. In a good way to do stuff with, not just maybe to buy alcohol or drugs and stuff. We want someone to feed someone else.”

“It’s a bad time”, he went on. “Hopefully, people will highlight what happens, but we just want people to get back on track. That’s all we do.”

“Hopefully, everybody’ll come here and get some sort of leadership from here today and give back to their friends or somebody,” he concluded. “Because, hey, there’s hope for everybody.”     


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