Category Archives: #HipNJ Cares

#HipNJ Cares highlights the Garden State’s heart of gold. We feature passionate charity efforts and the philanthropic all-stars behind these important initiatives!


Help Mary’s Place by the Sea WIN Revlon’s “Love is On” Million Dollar Challenge!

Mary’s Place By The Sea takes “Jersey Strong” to a whole new level!

This picturesque Ocean Grove oasis offers women battling cancer a much-needed break from their health challenges.

#HipNJ’s Lisa Marie Latino chatted with Mary’s Place co-founder, Michele Gannon, about this groundbreaking organization and how #Hippers can help them them win Revlon’s “Love is On” Million Dollar Challenge, ending on October 29th.

Read on:

Lisa Marie Latino: Hi Michele, it’s so great to speak with you.  How did you start this tremendous effort?

Michele Gannon: Thank you Lisa Marie, we’re so thankful for Hip New Jersey to feature us!  In 2009, I was dealing with my own short-term illness and I found it very hard to focus on my health while balancing my household tasks. During that chaos, I had a “light bulb moment”- what are women going through that have long-term illnesses or ailments much more serious than my own?! I had a vision of creating a serene space that women can enjoy without their day-to-day responsibilities.

By that spring, I shared my plan with my dear friend Maria McKeon, a fitness and wellness coach with over 30 years experience. We put our plan into motion very quickly. We rented a bed & breakfast in Ocean Grove, established our 501(c)(3) status, developed our integrative holistic program, and opened our doors June of 2009!

LML: Life is funny like that, right?  The worst of times seem to lead us down our best path in life!

MG: Exactly right.

LML: That is the mark of a strong woman!  Anyway, what do you provide your guests?

MG:  Mary’s Place offers private rooms with breathtaking views of the ocean and the lake, plus easily accessible bathrooms. Guests can mingle on our porch or our cozy living room with a fireplace.  In our kitchen, we teach our guests how to juice and prepare healthy meals.  We believe in our holistic, integrative approach with respect to their medical treatment, and those services include oncology massage, individual counseling sessions, nutritional counseling, guided meditation, reflexology, journaling, yoga and much more.

LML: Are women only coming from New Jersey or from other parts of the East Coast?

MG: Women from all over the United States, including Alaska, have stayed at Mary’s Place.  Our services our 100% free, and we welcome all walks of life!  Our future plans include expanding around the country.

LML: That’s amazing!  What do “outsiders” think of the Garden State?

MG: They absolutely love it.  The community of Ocean Grove has been really great to our women.  During their “free day”, restaurants have provided them with free meals.  It’s brought everyone closer.

LML: New Jersey can sometimes have an iffy reputation across the country, so thank you for helping buck that stereotype!  How are you raising money and awareness to keep Mary’s Place going?

MG: We fundraise, fundraise, fundraise!  Due to high demand, we decided that we needed a larger space and recently broke ground on a brand-new, ten bedroom property.  It’s a hefty price tag [$2.7 million] but the amount of women our new home will help is priceless.

LML: Your current fundraising effort is Revlon’s “Love is On” Million Dollar Challenge.  Can you share what that is?

MG: Charities dedicated to women’s cancers, heart disease, and diabetes are taking part in an online fundraising competition to raise the most money for their cause. The organization which raises the most donations will win an additional one million dollars from Revlon, and second place receives $250,000.

LML: Winning the Challenge would be a huge help, obviously.

MG: Absolutely, but at the same time we feel like we’ve already won.  Since we entered the contest on September 21st, we’ve raised $138,000.  We’re number one in donors.  We’re currently in third place behind two large organizations, but we’re hanging tough.

LML: Between now and when the contest ends on October 29th, what can Hip New Jersey readers do to help you leapfrog into the number one slot?

MG: They can help donate to the campaign by visiting  We thank your readers for anything they can contribute!

For more on Mary’s Place, visit

elizabeth hurley

Elizabeth Hurley at Bloomingdale’s Short Hills

#HipNJ started Breast Cancer Awareness Month in a very Hollywood way- with British starlet Elizabeth Hurley!

Our Maria Falzo chatted with “The Royals” actress at Bloomingdale’s Short Hills , where she hosted a private luncheon to kick off Bloomie’s Pink Campaign to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Marisa Acocella Marchetto Foundation and The Carey Foundation benefiting The Tutu Project.

Elizabeth, the global spokesmodel for The Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, spoke to attendees about breast health and the importance of joining the fight against this hideous disease.

“That sad fact is, every two minutes, all over the United States there’s another women diagnosed with breast cancer,” Elizabeth stated.  It’s harrowing statistics like this, plus her personal connection to the disease (she lost her grandmother to breast cancer) that fuels her passion to help find a cure.

As for her work with Estée Lauder, Elizabeth is in her twenty-first year with the legendary beauty giant.  In addition to being privy to the best in skin care products in the world (as evident by her glowing complexion!) the company’s deep philanthropic spirit spurred her into becoming a global ambassador.

“I was very inspired by the late Evelyn Lauder.  She was a wonderful women and an inspirational leader.  She formed the BCA Campaign, and I learned so much from her from her energy, commitment and dedication.”

In order to heighten breast cancer awareness, Elizabeth stresses that every action counts.  “Whether it’s getting a mammogram, or urging family members to get checked, or raising money, everyone can do something to spread the word.”

For more information on Elizabeth’s philanthropic efforts, visit


Success Stories of The Connie Dwyer Breast Center

It’s #hip to be #healthy, and #HipNJ is helping fight breast cancer by celebrating the 10th anniversary of The Connie Dwyer Breast Center!

Opened in 2005, The Connie Dwyer Breast Center at Saint Michael’s Medical Center is a comprehensive, state-of-the-art facility providing expert diagnosis and treatment of breast disease. Further, the Center stresses prevention, early detection, and educational outreach programs in northern New Jersey.

#HipNJ’s Lisa Marie Latino got to know the extraordinary patients of The Connie Dwyer Breast Center, and learned their inspirational stories on how the center helped them kick cancer’s butt!

Through tears, patient Sheila spoke about the tender care of the center in her native Portuguese.

“I came to the center after discovering a lump on my left breast,” explained Sheila. “Here I found care, attention, and solidarity. I am so happy and grateful for everyone. From the concierge to the doctors, they have been marvelous to me.”

Tanya, who is now enjoying a cancer- free life, came to the center nine months into her breast cancer battle.

“The staff became like my sisters. Their friendship made my treatments go quick. The center helps you with everything. [The center] really did save my life. Otherwise, I never would have known what to do.”

Rosie had been diagnosed with breast cancer in Maryland, and wound up seeing Dr. Nadine Pappas at The Connie Dwyer Breast Center.

“[When I lost my hair] the center gave me a beautiful, perfect wig. It made me feel good, even if I wasn’t feeling my best.”

It’s these stories, and the exceptional care by the center, that propelled Essex County Freeholder President, Britnee Timberlake, to speak about the center at a recent rally.

“[The Connie Dwyer Breast Center] provided me with the best healthcare I have ever received in my life…IN MY LIFE!”

For more on The Connie Dwyer Breast Center, log onto