by Meg Grant, AARP The Magazine, January/February 2009 issue
Music impresario Quincy Jones still vividly recalls the moment, 56 years ago, when, after performing in Lionel Hampton’s band at a Tunisian nightclub, he emerged and a five-year-old girl approached him. “She had a flowered dress on, and one hand behind her back,” he remembers. The other hand was held out in supplication. “I’m from the ghetto,” says Jones, 75, who grew up on the South Side of Chicago. “But I’d never seen that before. We gave her everything we had. And she went around the corner and handed the money to two men.” The next day he learned that the girl’s uncle had cut off her left hand so she’d be a more sympathetic beggar. “That got me for life,” he says. Today the legendary entertainer spends his free time directing the Quincy Jones Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at helping poor children worldwide. His group has assisted with programs to eradicate malaria in Nigeria, develop housing in postapartheid South Africa, and establish youth centers in conflict-ridden locales. His most recent project is the Glocal Youth Parliament, which brings together several hundred children from industrialized and Third World countries to come up with solutions to their nations’ biggest challenges. Says Jones: “I really think we are in a position to make a difference.”
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