With her frequent visits to Richmond (once every couple of months, she says) it’s not a huge surprise to see Jenna Bush Hager and her husband, Henry, out and about here. But she can still draw a crowd, as shown by Saturday night’s sold-out, $125-per-person benefit for Noah’s Children.
She’s the keynote speaker at the event, to be held at The Westin Richmond on West Broad Street. Organizers say that the funds raised will be used to continue operations for Noah’s Children, a Richmond-based pediatric palliative care and hospice program.
The New York City resident, NBC Today contributing correspondent and UNICEF Next Generation chair says by phone that she plans to talk about people she’s met through her work for those organizations — “incredible normal people who are doing extraordinary things to make our world a better place.” One such person is Ana, the 17-year-old single mother from Panama who was the subject of her 2007 book, Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope.
Hager says that she co-founded Next Generation about three years ago in an effort to get more young adults involved in UNICEF’s mission. So far, it has raised more than $500,000, she says. “We realized that when we looked at the donor set, that our generation was missing – people from 20 to 40 weren’t part of that conversation.”
In addition to speaking engagements, which Hager says she does about every two weeks, her current work for Today includes interviewing country stars Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard, working on a story about education in Detroit and delving into the difference in psychology between people who love cats versus those who prefer dogs. She’ll also be reporting on the Olympics in London this summer.
When in Richmond, besides spending time with Henry’s parents, former Lt. Gov. John H. Hager and his wife, Margaret, the couple gets together with friends and enjoys eating at local hot spots like Comfort and Can Can Brasserie, both of which Jenna calls “delicious.” She’s also taken her mother-in-law to see Coco Before Chanel at the Regal Westhampton.
“I think Richmond’s a beautiful city,” she says. “The history is incredible.”
How can we argue with that?