Back in October, Ben Affleck used all the attention on his dating life to bring attention to a cause he cares about: The Midnight Mission — a homeless shelter that helps those most in need, including people battling addiction, in Los Angeles.
After it was discovered that Affleck, 47, was using the exclusive dating app Raya, he poked fun at himself but also made a point. “HA, you got me. I’m dating,” he captioned the post, before mentioning the cause, that he said is “actually important.”
“I have been in recovery for over a year and part of that is helping out others,” he wrote, @themidnightmission is an incredible organization that helps those in need with housing, training, development and recovery.”
Affleck then asked if Raya would join him in making a donation. “I’m making a donation today because there are people battling addiction every day that don’t have the resources and need help. @raya, you in? Who else is with me? Click the link in my bio to donate,” he wrote.
Affleck first learned about The Midnight Mission, which has been in operation since 1914, through a parent at one of his children’s schools and supports their efforts.
“I found that I get a lot out of giving a little bit of my time to other people. I don’t know that it helps them or not, but I know it’s helpful to me,” Affleck tells PEOPLE.
The Midnight Mission serves anyone in need, with a range of programs that focus on education, recovery and workforce development. And Affleck, who has been open about his addiction struggles in the past, recognizes the connection he shares with those the mission aims to help.
“It’s easy to sort of throw up your hands and say there’s nothing you can do,” says Affleck. “But the truth is there are people who want to make their lives better, who are struggling, who need help and who you can benefit by even doing a little bit, giving a little bit of money or a little bit of time. It’s just a really powerful thing to do to be able to connect with people.”
“For me, working with that organization has been really positive and rewarding. Just to see people getting healthier, thriving, emerging, picking up skills — it makes a difference,” he says. “One thing we have as public figures is the opportunity to bring some exposure to organizations that are doing work that we believe in. And that’s definitely the case with the Midnight Mission.”
Affleck adds, “They are a worthy organization. They do a lot of good work and I would encourage anyone to support them.”
Affleck is currently promoting the sports drama The Way Back about a former basketball star and alcoholic who returns to his alma mater to coach the team. But in helping the kids, he has to learn to help himself.
The film was Affleck’s first project after completing a 40-day stay at a treatment center last October and the actor has raved about the experience of making The Way Back, telling PEOPLE, “Gavin [director Gavin O’Connor] and the extraordinary cast of young actors who played the basketball players made me better every day and reminded me why I wanted to be an actor 25 years ago—simply because I love it.”
The Way Back opens March 6.