Richard Young/Startraks
April 21, 2009 02:50 PM

It’s not just the fact “she looks beautiful” that attracts Swiss multimillionaire Arpad Busson to Uma Thurman, but her charitable heart, he tells PEOPLE

“Of course, I’m proud of her,” the financier, 46, said Monday night after arriving at Rose Hall in Jazz at Lincoln Center on the arm of his fiancée for the Cookie Magazine Smart Cookie Awards in New York. Thurman was honored for her work with Room to Grow, a non-profit organization that helps children born into poverty during the first three critical years of their lives.

Busson, who kept his arm around Thurman on their way into dinner and for much of the evening, told PEOPLE he was especially proud of Thurman’s charity work. “She’s been involved since the beginning [of Room to Grow, in 1998]. She goes and sees the sites and works on the projects. She’s been incredibly dedicated.”

A Loving Mother

According to Room to Grow founder Julie Burns, as a mother – of daughter Maya, 10, and son Levon Roan, 7, with the actress’s ex-husband Ethan Hawke – Thurman immediately understood what the group does and asked how she could help.

Said Thurman, 38: “Loving a child, wanting your children to have the greatest chances in life … makes you feel a real empathy with other parents.” She added, “All my life I grew up in many different places, in a lot of different countries. And I saw a lot of poverty and what it can do there is no justice in how it discriminates or selects people.”

In short, says Busson, who has just returned from a trip with Thurman to the Bahamas, “She’s just an all around mother and professional … and a great beauty.”

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