- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 21, 2009

You wouldn’t guess that a gruff guy who plays “Hardball” harbors such a soft spot.

But NBC talk-show host Chris Matthews and his wife of three decades, Kathleen, who has earned recognition in her own right as a Washington television anchor, are pushovers for philanthropy.

The celebrity media couple are easily recognizable around Washington, but behind the scenes, they quietly donate their names, money and time, sometimes working with their three adult children, for humanitarian causes.

The Volunteers of America recently honored Chris and Kathleen Matthews with the Ballington and Maud Booth Award for “their generous philanthropic work benefiting their community and the nation in their public and private lives.”

However, the couple’s recognition as “tireless fundraisers” was given not only because of what they have accomplished together and individually to help the less fortunate through their charitable efforts, but also because they have instilled the importance of community service in their three children and “passed on a great tradition,” said Charles W. Gould, national president and chief executive officer of VOA.

“They have such a strong record [of service to the community] that it wasn’t a particular one thing” that singled out the Matthewses, Mr. Gould said. Rather, “they have shown long-term commitment” and “they ensured that their children were involved.”

Mrs. Matthews said getting the VOA award was nice but humbling because “so many people do much more.”

When it comes to charity and community service, for the Matthewses, it’s a family affair.

They are part of “a giving chain that happens in families,” Mrs. Matthews said during an interview.

“With Chris, mentoring is a priority,” she said.

Indeed, Mr. Matthews is frequently spotted around the NBC studios in Northwest with a pack of interns in tow, debating the hot topics of the day. “He gives them a lot of projects,” Mrs. Matthews said. He also is known to take time to talk to aspiring journalism students who call and ask for guidance.

Mr. Matthews often donates his master-of-ceremonies fees for charity events to the hosting charity, including those working to prevent diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. He has the former; his mother had the latter, Mrs. Matthews said.

“He uses his platform on TV to help groups,” she said.

Mrs. Matthews, who was a reporter and anchor for the local ABC affiliate, WJLA-TV (Channel 7), is executive vice president for global communications and public affairs for Marriott International Inc.

The Catholic Charities Foundation, the Girl Scouts and the Nyumbani orphanage in Kenya are Mrs. Matthews‘ fundraising priorities, though she juggles a number of other charity board duties, including with Ford’s Theatre and the Shakespeare Theatre Company.

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