UM Children's Home has stake in NBC's 'Celebrity Apprentice'


    It might not normally be on their list of must-see shows, but some young people in north Georgia have a special reason to be carefully following “Celebrity Apprentice.” They have a vested interest.
    In the fourth installment of NBC’s popular reality show, which premiered March 6, contestant Lil Jon has selected the United Methodist Children’s Home as his designated charity. Lil Jon – aka Jonathan Mortimer Smith – a successful music producer, recording artist and entrepreneur, is an Atlanta native and graduate of Frederick Douglass High School.
     "I chose the United Methodist Children’s Home as my charity because it’s a personal thing for me,” he said. “My family took in some foster kids when I was young, so I know the importance. Every kid deserves a good home, and the best opportunities."
   The United Methodist Children’s Home is a ministry to hurting children and families. Efforts are aimed at preventing the breakup of families, restoring and healing separated families, or teaching teens and young adults how to create successful and meaningful lives for their own future families
     During the show’s 12-week run, Lil Jon will be competing against other celebrity contestants who are seeking to raise money and awareness for various charities, as well as to vie for the title of “Celebrity Apprentice.” Each cast member chooses a charity to receive all of the winnings that he or she collects throughout the show. After each task, the money earned from the project goes to the winning team leader’s selected charity.
     Among the other contestants are: Marlee Matlin, Gary Busey, La Toya Jackson, Jose Canseco, Star Jones and Meat Loaf.
 In the first episode, it was former pop idol David Cassidy who heard the dreaded words from Donald Trump: “You’re fired!”
     "We’re thrilled to be chosen as Lil Jon’s charity of choice for 'The Celebrity Apprentice,'" said Terence Johnson, Director of Programs at UMCH. "We appreciate any additional help possible that allows us to continue to serve children and struggling families."
     With the earnings, the UMCH will continue to serve children and families in need by providing them a safe place to live, and offering services and resources to prevent abuse and keep families together. The United Methodist Children’s Home, owned by the North Georgia Conference, has been a safe haven for abused children and youth since 1871. The ministry provides services for children from birth into their early 20s, including foster care, residential and family housing, and independent and transitional living for older youth.
     According to Johnson, Lil Jon did some research on the Children’s Home before making the decision to choose it as his charity.
     “Hats off to him, he took this very seriously,” said Johnson. “He said to me that he would like to come out and see for himself, not to just say ‘This is my charity.’  He spent most of the afternoon here, visiting with the kids, hanging out with staff members, chatting with former graduates and walking the campus. He learned about each and every program we offered, what they mean to children in families, and what our needs are here.”
     Johnson said the children at UMCH are excited about "The Celebrity Apprentice" and hope to be able to plan a reception for Lil Jon and put on a talent show for him.  For his part, Lil Jon has talked about helping the home even beyond "Celebrity Apprentice," perhaps with a computer lab or a music studio.
  "Some may not agree with his lyrics, but it's hard to disagree with his willingness to help and to give back," said Johnson.  "He has a genuine concern for the well-being of families in need and children in need."