Robert Duvall | Children’s Fund

robertduvall

You probably know him from The Godfather or Apocalypse Now. We imagine Robert Duvall as a seasoned actor and quintessential “tough guy.” To most, he’s characterized by lines like, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning,” and “Mr. Corleone never asks a second favor once he’s refused the first.” The disparity between the characters Duvall plays on film and the generous, down-to-earth person he is in the “real world” is a testament to his skill as an actor.

Accompanied by his savvy and beautiful wife, Luciana, Mr. Duvall (or as she calls him, “Bobby”) has created a charitable organization called the Robert Duvall Children’s Fund (RDCF). The RDCF, which is based in the Los Angeles area but maintains heavy involvement in the local Virginia community, is remarkable not only for the scope of its generosity but also for the devotion of its founders to children in Virginia, the U.S., and across the globe.

robertduvall2The Duvalls currently reside in the Piedmont, VA, area—a part of the state they treasure while on relaxing afternoon drives through the countryside. They love to visit locals, hear their stories, and enjoy what Luciana describes as the area’s “humble and genuine lifestyle.” Posh Seven spoke with Luciana to learn more about the ways this Virginia couple is giving back to their community.

GLOBAL BEGINNINGS
Luciana and Robert began RDCF together in 2001, eager to address the needs of northern Argentinian families struggling with health, financial, and lifestyle challenges. According to Daisy Saulls, Executive Director of RDFC, this started with campaigns to refurbish “homes for impoverished families with children with disabilities.” The Fund equally contributed to the efforts of Todos Juntos, an organization supporting Argentinian children with Down syndrome.

Luciana explains that she and her husband have met and heard about far too many children facing both neglect and misunderstanding. “They don’t feel loved,” she says, adding that RDCF offers its support to organizations that help foster love, affection, and care by strengthening families, imparting stability at home, and building confidence in young people.

COMING HOME
In 2009, Robert and Luciana expanded their efforts to support local Virginia organizations, giving back to the very community where they’ve built their home. One of these organizations is the David Ramsey Foundations in Personal Finance Program, which they began to support in order to bring personal finance education into local high schools. Luciana treasures the success of this program: “When I visited with the kids, they shared that the program had given them the confidence to talk to their parents about finances.” She continues, “They’re able to go into adulthood having more confidence about their financial understanding.” RDCF also recognizes the prominence of military families in and around Virginia by providing support to a group called Our Military Kids. This organization offers children an outlet for self-expression and coping while a parent (or parents) are deployed or once they’ve returned from deployment. Robert Duvall’s father served in the military himself, making this a particularly personal cause for the couple.

For the organizations RDCF supports, like Rainbow Therapeutic Riding and Henry & William Evans Home for Children, seeing results is crucial. These local programs have what Luciana describes as “a history of sustainable operations and positive results.” She loves that they “have a lot of integrity and enormous compassion,” two qualities that she and Robert consider “necessary to run organizations like these.”
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BACK TO NATURE
As self-described nature lovers, Robert and Luciana wanted to incorporate conservation education into their foundation’s efforts. In many ways, it’s a logical connection. Luciana explains that they consider nature a place where families can come together and “build wonderful memories. As a child, you always remember trips in nature.”

Many of Mr. Duvall’s favorite times as a child were spent with his uncle in Montana. To this day, he and Luciana love driving “out-of-town guests through the local scenery.” This inspired them to work with a noteworthy local organization called the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC), which helps engage citizens, decision makers, and businesses in supporting and enacting environmental conservation efforts.

Luciana says that Virginia is already well on its way to preserving natural habitats and resources, “It has one of the country’s largest number of easements outside of Wyoming.” This encouraging news doesn’t mean that the battle ends here, though. Mrs. Duvall cherishes the uniqueness of the Piedmont area and is poised to take on “the great fight for Virginia. We love that you can drive for hours here without seeing a traffic light,” she explains. Through the joint efforts of RDCF and PEC, that could remain a reality.

Linking their work helping families to their environmental objectives, the Duvalls regularly invite children to their property to interact with wild animals. Luciana reminds us that this type of experience is “of a world that we’re not part of anymore.” By allowing an elephant to walk around freely, for children to run around and meet various animals they’d typically only see behind bars at a zoo, and for families to interact and have fun in this setting, the Duvalls bring about “a greater sense of kindness, gentleness, and peace.” They’re thrilled to help create a stronger connection between parents, children, and nature.

CRUCIAL CAUSES
The Robert Duvall Children’s Fund continues to support organizations that benefit children through education, development, or medical assistance, and the couple considers environmental conservation and education to be vital elements for this work.

Many celebrities donate their time and energy to charitable causes. Far fewer co-create their own nonprofit organizations, then implement a lifestyle wherein they practice what they preach. Robert Duvall may be considered a Hollywood star, but here in Virginia he’s simply “Bobby,” a generous soul with local roots and a vision of a better world for our children.

To learn more about efforts of the RDCF, visit robertduvallfund.com.