A journalist, after inteviewing Sam one time, said that Sam was kind of like the neighbor who would bring you back your dog if it strayed. Another journalist said that once you met Sam, you became his friend.
There are numerous charities and groups that have good cause to call Sam Waterston their friend. After starring in The Killing Fields, he was asked to be a member of the Board of Directors of Refugees International. He has served in that capacity for over 20 years.
Through his work with Refugees International, he became aware of a PBS television series, The Visionaries. He was so impressed with their work, that he agreed to host the series without asking for pay. To quote their website: "Waterston still won't take a cent for his time hosting The Visionaries. Waterston does not stand aloof: he is genuinely interested in The Visionaries--giving input and offering support. He has been a wonderful spokesperson and supporter of The Visionaries."
Sam has been an Episcopalian all his life, and he is active in helping his church. Since 2001, he has been honorary chair of the Leaders for the Church of the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in New York City. He even got into some controversy when he wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times supporting the razing of a building on the seminary grounds. A paragraph from this article gives you some idea of the importance of the General Theological Seminary to Sam:
Sam has also been a Board Member of the Screen Actor's Guild for the New York Branch. This position is an elected one; his election shows the esteem his fellow actors have for him. He has also helped out by hosting many benefits for acting workshops and acting companies in the New York area.
In 2007, Sam joined the Board of Oceana, a non partisan international non-profit organization whose purpose is to save the world's oceans. Previously, he served on their Ocean council. He says of the oceans:
You can find out more about Oceana by going to http://www.oceana.org/international-home-nao/
Sam is also busy at home in rural Connecticut. He has helped at local fairs, spoken at dedications of monuments, done benefit readings for local schools, and much more. He has also found time to raise cattle,sheep, and goats on his farm. The animals are grain fed and finished off the same way, which means they are raised without a lot of artificial stimulants, etc.