Giving Back

Love & Hip Hop Cast, The Roots and Essex County Leaders Gather in Montclair to Raise Funds for Charity

Credits: Natalie Heard Hackett
Credits: Natalie Heard Hackett
Credits: Natalie Heard Hackett
Credits: Natalie Heard Hackett
Credits: Natalie Heard Hackett
Credits: Natalie Heard Hackett

MONTCLAIR, NJ - The hip hop community teamed up with local community activists for the purpose of bringing awareness to health concerns in the urban community.

Local leaders gathered on Saturday with television personalities and musicians at the Montclair Art Museum for a fundraiser to 'Give Thanks.'

Hosted by the GrassROOTS Community Foundation and Producer Mona Scott-Young of Love and Hip Hop, proceeds from the 4th annual gathering will go to provide turkeys to the residents of Georgia King Village- a low income housing development in Newark. 

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Among the celebrity guests were Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter lead MC of the Grammy Award winning group The Roots, Kindred the Family Soul, DJ Scotty Nevers, Yandy Smith from Love and Hip Hop New York and Doitall Du Kelly of rap group Lords of the Underground.

The GrassROOTS Community Foundation was co-founded by Dr. Janice Johnson Dias and Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter. Trotter says that he connected with Johnson Dias, a Sociology professor at John Jay College, to help raise awareness of health concerns in the black community. 

He said that he had known Johnson Dias for many years prior and decided to add his celebrity status to further her cause. It was through her vision of connecting the power of hip hop with health issues that birthed the 'Give Thanks' initiative.

Trotter said, "I am here to celebrate the annual give thanks celebration that we do through the GrassROOTS Foundation." He said that he and his co-founder live in the Essex County area and have a special affinity for helping the greater Newark community through their foundation.

According to their website, the GrassROOTS Community Foundation is a public health and social action organization that invests in the community members’ collective well-being, so that they can use their health and energy to transform themselves, their families and communities. They support, develop and scale health and wellness programs for women and girls, particularly those who are impoverished.

Guests were entertained throughout the evening from singers and dancers and awards were presented to two Essex County cancer survivors who continue to give back to the community despite their health challenges.

Kim Gilchrist and Sonia Fergus were honored among their peers. 

Trotter said that he decided to team up with Johnson Dias who was already doing many charitable deeds in the community. "I decided to use my celebrity, whatever celebrity that may be, to give others a jump. Next thing you know, it's been five years plus."

Trotter said that he wants people to know, "This organization serves a people in the community who otherwise might go without. The work that we do and the programs that we provide are of the utmost importance. We have been proven to make a difference in the outcome in the lives of these young people."  

Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Barnabas Health, Michellene Davis capped off the event by presenting the foundation with a check for $10,000.

For more information or to donate, visit  or mail checks to 59 Main Street, Suite 322, West Orange, NJ 07052. GrassROOTS is a 501c3 and all donations are tax-deductible.

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