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Seymour’s Open Hearts Foundation gathers in Malibu prior to its fall gala

Open Hearts Foundation Executive Director Elaine Mellis (left) is pictured with the foundation’s founder, Jane Seymour, during an Aug. 6 reception held at a Malibu home. Photos by Suzy Demeter/22nd Century Media
Jane Seymour (third from right) is surrounded by members of the Open Hearts Foundation Board of Directors (left to right) Eric McIntyre, Malibu resident Jim Palmer (host of the event), Bob Trabucco, James Keach and Rich Gold during an Aug. 6 reception in Malibu.
Open Hearts Foundation Executive Director Elaine Mellis (left) and art curator Susan Nagy Luks pose with some of the foundation’s artwork.
Artist Chris Dellorco (left) unveils a sketch of Jane Seymour depicted from the movie “Somewhere in Time” with the background of the Grand Hotel.
Barbara Burke, Freelance Reporter
9:44 am PDT August 15, 2017

Irene Dazzan-Palmer and Jim Palmer opened the doors of their Malibu home to the Open Hearts Foundation and its myriad supporters for an Aug. 6 reception.

The Open Hearts Foundation, founded in 2010, is a social impact accelerator founded by Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actress and artist Jane Seymour, and actor, producer and director James Keach. The foundation — which was inspired by Seymour’s mother Mieke Frankenberg’s legacy of, even in the worst of times, helping others — aims to empower emerging and growing nonprofit organizations. 

This month’s event served as a preview to its upcoming Open Hearts Gala on Oct. 21. At the gala, the foundation will award donations to three nonprofit endeavors and provide the awardees with expertise, resources and tools.

“It’s really excellent that we are able to honor six extraordinary people with the Open Hearts Award,” Seymour said. “These six individuals have helped so many people with their open-hearted acts connected to the three nonprofits we are awarding with grants. We are recognizing them because each is making a huge difference in their particular areas of focus and each is quite unique.”

The 2017 Open Hearts Award recipients include Laure Woods and the Bay Area Lyme Foundation.

“Laure Woods is exceptional, as she makes every effort to help find a cure for Lyme disease, which is the fastest growing epidemic in the United States,” Seymour said. “Laure herself suffers from late-stage chronic Lyme disease.” 

Also being honored are Yudi Bennett, Ernie Merlán and Susan Zwerman of Exceptional Minds, a nonprofit animation and visual effects school and studio designed for young adults with autism.

The final honorees are Drew Plotkin and David Richard of Global Mobility USA.

“It’s amazing what Global Mobility does,” Seymour said. “People who literally had to crawl around or be carried everywhere are given a wheelchair. Many are in third world countries and their whole village is affected by the change.”

​The Open Hearts Foundation aims to provide effective assistance to emerging and smaller nonprofits that can really make a difference for those whom they assist.

“The Open Hearts Foundation focuses on serving as an accelerator for new nonprofits who follow the Open Hearts philosophy,” Seymour said. “Rather than reinvent the wheel, we wanted to support and accelerate wheels that were working but needed additional support. Our organization shines the light on these new startups, raises money and accelerates what they are doing.”

Keach emphasized that past awardees’ success in their nonprofit foundations have been phenomenal.

“I particularly remember Travis Mills, a quadruple amputee who was injured in Afghanistan, who has a nonprofit that helps wounded soldiers by giving them a week-long experience that includes therapies and experiences that help them feel alive again,” Keach said. The foundation also honored country music icon Glen Campbell — who died two days after the event, on Aug. 8 — for his film “I’ll Be Me,” which raised $300 million for Alzheimer’s research.

Attendees were impressed with the foundation’s focus.

“I think we need to bring more heart into our entire world,” attendee Zoe Scott said. “It’s wonderful what Jane is doing and it’s effective.”

Board members who donate long, hard hours to ensure that all the details are taken care of in order to facilitate the work of the awardee organizations agree.

Seymour’s daughter, Katherine Flynn-Simon, serves on the board of directors.  

“I want to carry the legacy of my grandmother and my mother,” Flynn-Simon said. “I want to teach my daughters that caring like my mother does is a way of life. We should all be open hearted. It’s the most important lesson to learn and to teach children and all of us.” 

Toward the end of the evening, artist Chris Dellorco unveiled a sketch of Seymour — dressed in a white lace dress, posing in front of the Grand Hotel, evoking the images of her role in “Somewhere in Time” — that will be fully painted in time for the gala.

The Palmer home was also decorated with Seymour’s artistic works, oils and bronzes — all depicting hearts in various forms. Love and caring for others pervaded the evening.   

“My dream is that my Open Hearts bronzes will become a universal symbol of giving love and of everybody having a chance to help others,” Seymour told attendees. 

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