Celeb: Grammy-winning Jersey boy Jon Bon Jovi, whose JBJ Soul Foundation has dispatched volunteers to help build houses and serve food to the hungry from Philadelphia to Camden. 

Cause: The Make A Difference Day Awards luncheon honoring 13 top volunteers by awarding them $10,000 each for their local cause. The afternoon at the National Museum of Women in the Arts also helped launch Make A Difference Day, which will be held Oct. 25, 2014.

Scene: “There are many stars in the room but only one can actually claim to be a rock star,” joked Gracia Martore, president and CEO of Gannett, the media company that sponsors Make A Difference Day. There were, of course, more references to Bon Jovi’s superstar status and plenty of puns, like how he was “lending his big voice to volunteerism” and helping those literally “living on a prayer.” But when the rocker took the stage, the man himself eschewed any mention of who he was and instead focused on what he does, which is try to “break the chains of poverty” in communities from Philadelphia to New Jersey.

It didn’t take long for Bon Jovi, along with his celebrity friends Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie, co-anchors of “The Today Show,” to make room at the podium for the afternoon’s awardees. Like 11-year-old Jessica Carscadden, who got her community to donate more than 3,000 stuffed bears for her We Care Bears project, which provides police and firefighters with stuffed animals for frightened children on emergency calls. She got the idea while cleaning her room. Lauer joked that after hearing about Jessica, he went home and grounded all three of his children for “lack of effort.”

Soundbite: “Our government can’t do it alone,” said Bon Jovi. “Philanthropy can’t do it alone. It takes volunteerism and what I like to call the power of we.”

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