Attendees included Katie Couric, Michael Strahan, Savannah Guthrie, Willie Geist--who MC'ed the event - and John McEnroe

By Maggie Parker
Updated October 07, 2016 10:04 AM
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Andy Kropa/Invision/AP

Jon Bon Jovi has a lot of A-list friends, and the proof was in the pudding Thursday night at the 10th anniversary of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation (JBJSF) in New York City. There were former presidents, governors, award-winning journalists and athletes in the audience and onstage.

Bill Clinton, who presented Bon Jovi with the Global Citizen Award last month and was in attendance when the foundation launched in 2006, took the stage to praise the musician and his wife Dorothea for the work they’ve done to end hunger and homelessness.

“I came here to add my voice of thanks to Jon and Dorothea who house the homeless and feed the hungry. And remind us all that underneath our differences, we’re not so different after all,” Clinton said of his good friends. He recalled visiting Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen, a volunteer or pay it forward restaurant in New Jersey, and highly recommended it, and not just for good karma.

“If you have not eaten there, you ought to treat yourself… I wanted to move in,” the former president said to an enraptured and laughing audience. Clinton also expressed his admiration for JBJ Soul Foundation board member Sister Mary Scullion, who has been involved in service work and advocacy for homeless and mentally ill persons since 1978 and co-founded Woman of Hope in 1985 to provide supportive housing for homeless mentally ill women.

“If you spent 15 minutes with Sister Mary Scullion, you would think, only women should be in charge of everything,” the 42nd president of the United States said, fittingly, since his wife is seeking to be in charge of the country come 2017.

He’s so impressed by this woman, he thinks she could take on his tough wife, the democratic nominee. “Somebody asked me if I was worried about the turnout of the election and I said, ‘No, I’m worried about a write-in vote for her,’ ” he said jokingly. Clinton continued to praise the Bon Jovi family for their dedication and the tight-knit community they’ve created.

“I trust people who’ve got the friends they’ve grown up with, who never walk away from their roots, and know that the people you feed at the Soul Kitchen are just as good as the people you met at the White House,” he concluded, which prompted huge applause. As if that weren’t enough political star power for the night, up next were New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and his sister Mary Cuomo Cole, who were honored with the JBJSF Inspiration Award. After his sister spoke, the governor took some time to discuss his beginnings in politics.

“He didn’t say it this way but he wanted to take a little of the New York edge off me,” he said of working in Clinton’s administration. “That’s where I developed the southern drawl,” he joked. Other notable attendees included Katie Couric, Michael Strahan, Savannah Guthrie, Willie Geist–who MC’ed the event – and John McEnroe. When the man of the hour took the stage, he recounted the day the idea of the JBJSF came to him.

“One night, I was looking out of a hotel window, at a grate in front of City Hall … and it was a frigid cold night, and this elderly man laid down underneath a little blanket trying to keep warm and I thought to myself, this is not what our forefathers thought when they looked at the Declaration of Independence,” Bon Jovi said. “This is not where our country was meant to be.” This inspired the “Livin’ on a Prayer” singer to create this foundation.

“It didn’t matter if you were black or white, Republican or Democrat, young or old, the idea that anyone could be homeless, it could affect anyone in America at any time, the line in the song, we’re two paychecks away from living out on the street,’ it’s not an original line, unfortunately it’s true,” he expressed. Once his first Soul Kitchen was up and running (the original is in Red Bank, New Jersey, and the second location opened this year in Toms River, New Jersey), Bon Jovi wanted to get his hands even dirtier. So, naturally, he did the dishes.

“He washes dishes. He loves washing dishes,” Dorothea told PEOPLE when asked if her husband likes to get involved in the kitchens.

“Yeah. I don’t like my relatives all that much so I usually escape to the kitchen and I became really good at it,” Bon Jovi joked when we asked what he liked about doing dishes so much. “Truthfully, I always wanted to participate, but the best way for me to participate was back of house so that it wasn’t about me. And then I lost the job and people said, ‘why’d you lose the job?’ Well, because I was taking a job opportunity away from someone who was volunteering.”

And the rest is history.