Okay, so James Franco lost out to Colin Firth this weekend for Best Actor at the Critics’ Choice Awards and the Golden Globe’s… yikes. But he was honored with the Spirit of Elysium award at the Heaven Gala in Los Angeles, and that just might be even more rewarding!

Now, why would Franco prefer a charity award over a golden statue? Well, the Art of Elysium non-profit encourages actors, artists, and musicians to volunteer their time to help children battling serious medical conditions. Helping sick kids trumps self indulgent awards, no?

If that isn’t proof enough, at the ceremony— which was packed with A-list celebs like Gerard Butler, Jake Gyllenhaal, Nicole Richie, Rachel Bilson and Elijah Wood— Franco said that the experience of volunteering with the organization helped save his life.

“I went and started volunteering at the hospital. Anyways, the experience really saved my life,” he recalled.

And the 127 Hours actor credits Kirsten Dunst with introducing him to the charity, when he stated, “I was in a movie called Spiderman 3 and working with Kirsten Dunst and she said, ‘You know I volunteer with this group called Art of Elysium’ and she said ‘Come help out.’”

The 32-year-old then added, “It was funny because I was seeing a therapist at the time, and I told him I just wanted to find a place where I could give back. I didn’t know what I could give. All I did was act and I didn’t want to teach that. And so then Kristen said that there was this organization that worked with artists to make good of doing with they do and it was a place where they can help someone.”

It’s great to see Franco getting honored for the charity work he has done, especially since the experience has clearly made such a prominent and positive impact on his life!

Has anyone out there also volunteered with Art of Elysium?