LIVINGSTON, NJ — In order to introduce its programs, highlight the impact made on the communities it currently serves and extend its reach to new communities, the Hunter Foundation visited the Livingston mayor and council at its June 19 conference meeting.
The Hunter Foundation, founded by TV personality Wendy Williams and her husband, Kevin Hunter, is a three-year-old nonprofit organization that is currently working to develop its programs and initiatives. The organization earned its 501©3 in 2015 with the help of Executive Director Zoraya Lee-Hamlin, who has been in nonprofit management for many years.
Lee-Hamlin attended the council meeting in Livingston as part of her mission to contact all Essex County municipalities as well as some in Union and Hudson Counties and get the word out about the Hunter Foundation’s Summer Throw Down, being held at Planet Hollywood Times Square on July 11. She also invited all of the “first ladies” of these municipalities to get involved in the foundation’s efforts by attending fundraisers or serving as advisors to some of the programs.
Mayor Shawn Klein announced that he invited the Hunter Foundation to the meeting in order to give “proper attention” to the foundation’s efforts within the community and said he hoped it would inspire the community to get involved.
“The welcome mat is out in Livingston,” he said. “Our ears are open, our hearts are open and we hope we can make connections in the future and help you with your organization.”
In the years since its development, the Hunter Foundation has initiated programs that include four priority areas: youth development, drug rehabilitation, LGBTQ youth supportive service programs and a food-and-hunger initiative.
According to Lee-Hamlin, many of these programs primarily serve adolescent females and their families. She said the major focus today is the organization’s summer youth program, which is part of the Hunter Foundation’s youth-development effort.
In the Hunter Foundation’s first year, Williams recalled camp being an impactful experience that had a positive influence on her life and wanted to use this opportunity to send young girls to summer camp.
Lee-Hamlin described the partnership that the Hunter Foundation has made with an organization in Williams’ hometown of Asbury Park that referred some girls from low-income families to the Hunter Foundation. The foundation then developed a relationship with Camp Mason in Hardwick, NJ and has been sending young girls to camp as well as doing fundraising around that initiative since 2014.
As part of its hunger initiative, the Hunter Foundation also works with organizations that have hunger-relief programs. According to Lee-Hamlin, the Hunter family matches the funds raised by those organizations and also holds its own fundraisers in order to allot grants to other nonprofit organizations. Some of these partnerships include the Food Bank of New Jersey and Community Food Bank of New York, she said.
In addition to its Summer Throw Down, the foundation also hosts “Movie Night with the Hunters,” where Williams and her family hold a meet and greet prior to the viewing of a family movie. The second annual Movie Night with the Hunters was held at the AMC Dine-in Theatres in West Orange during the week prior to the Livingston meeting and was a huge success, according to Lee-Hamlin.
Other philanthropic efforts that benefit families of nearby communities include working with partners to provide warm meals to families in need over the holidays. This year, Lee-Hamlin said the Hunter Foundation fed more than 1000 people in Newark, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Harlem and Brooklyn, and that the foundation looks forward to doing it again next season.
The Summer Throw Down event is intended to introduce Hunter Foundation’s programs and initiatives to a select group of people interested in becoming advisors and volunteers within their communities.
For more information, or to learn how to get involved, visit the organization's website at www.thehunter-foundation.org.