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!

joe torre, andy pettitte

Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation Gala

Joe Torre and the New York Yankees are synonymous with class, and that was on full display at Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation‘s 12th Annual Celebrity Gala.

A-listers from the worlds of sports, media and Hollywood collided on the Pier 60 red carpet, and #HipNJ’s Lisa Marie Latino was there for it all.

“Joe is a wonderful human being, and he does so much to change the lives of women.  I’m proud of everything they do,” said television personality (and proud #HipNJ resident!), Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Safe at Home Foundation was founded in 2002 by Joe and his wife, Ali Torre.  Joe and his siblings were victims of domestic violence growing up, and he wanted to “stop the cycle”and save lives.

“It’s hard to dig back into your childhood and tell some dark stories about what happened to you personally,” said Yankees great David Cone.  “Not only does that take courage, but to take the step to do something about it says a lot about the man that he is.”

The gala, who honored Yankees legend Andy Pettitte, supported the Foundation’s programming initiative, Margaret’s Place, named in honor of Joe’s mother. This violence prevention and intervention model offers students an opportunity to explore issues of violence in a stable, non-threatening environment, while helping them understand that they are not alone or to blame. There are currently 11 Margaret’s Places in New York City and Los Angeles, where they have reached more than 45,000 students through countless school-wide campaigns, healing activities, educational opportunities, and private and group counseling.

“I’m here to support Joe because I love him so much, he’s a great guy and he’s done so much to the city of New York,” said television personality Meredith Vieira. “He’s done so much…particularly for kids who live in abusive homes.  What he’s saying is you’re not alone, and you need to talk, and there is hope.”

“We know we’re doing something that works,” said Joe.  “We’ve had kids come in our program who were thinking about joining a gang, and all of a sudden they are going to college.  We want to let them know when they come out the other end of this thing, they have a shot and we’re going to be there for them.”

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billy and ashley streiter

#HipNJ Cares: Billy and Ashley Streiter

Drinking and driving is never the “hip” thing to do.  In this special #HipNJ Cares segment, we learn about one family’s tragic story that could have easily been avoided.

Billy and Ashley Streiter were smart, beautiful and well-liked young adults who grew up in Florham Park with their loving parents, Deborah and Bill.  Billy had dreams of becoming a lawyer, and was a student at Seton Hall Law School.  Ashley’s goal in life was to help children, and studied special education at Kutztown University.

However, on April 5, 2003, those hopes were dashed.

On that terribly rainy, early Saturday morning, Billy was at a friend’s house and stranded without a ride.  Wanting to be responsible, he called his sister to pick up him and his friend.  Despite the weather and the time, Ashley jumped out of bed and drove thirty minutes for her brother.

On the way back to Florham Park, Ashley’s car had been disabled.  While waiting for help on the Garden State Parkway, they were hit by a speeding drunk driver with a suspended license.  Ashley and Billy were dead before paramedics arrived.

No parent should have to bury their child.  In Deborah Streiter’s case, she had to bury her only children, at the same time.  But instead of having the situation consume her, she has used this platform to make a positive difference in the world.

Deborah and her husband award scholarships in their children’s honor each year to their respective schools- KutztownSeton Hall Law, University of Rhode Island, and Hanover Park Regional High Schoolamong others.  The family, with the help of Billy and Ashley’s friends, hold fundraisers throughout the year to supplement the fund.  Deborah and Bill also do many public speaking engagements, and were even the subject of a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo.

#HipNJ’s Lisa Marie Latino sat with Deborah Streiter, and she bravely shared her story.  We hope you remember her words as you venture out this holiday season, and always.

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What Exit Wines at Old York Cellars

It’s not too late to give something “deliciously Garden State” for the holidays!

#HipNJ’s Lisa Marie Latino toured the pristine estate of Old York Cellars in Ringoes and uncovered their best products for gifting, including their charity label, What Exit Wines.

“We always wanted to do a Jersey-centric label with our wines,” explained general manager Laurin Dorman.  “We wanted to have a little fun with the ‘what exit are you from?’ joke that New Jersey is famous for.”

What Exit Wines originally launched to raise funds for Hurricane Sandy relief.  Their efforts netted $5,000 for Garden State families, and since 2012, the label has helped other local charities.

In addition to labels proudly boasting your #HipNJ town, labels can promote just about anything you wish!  Company logos, well wishes, thank you’s, wedding favors….the list goes on!

If shipping in New Jersey, order by December 21st to ensure delivery before Christmas.  If picking up in store, order by December 23rd to pick up by December 24th!

After sampling the decadent “Vidal Blanc” and “Barbera Blend”, it was off to visit international award-winning winemaker Scott Gares, the man behind the magic.  Scott explained to us how he creates his “poetry in a bottle“.

Despite a recent report in the Journal of Wine Economics, the New Jersey wine industry is not only booming, but on par with some of the best grapes in the world!  Old York Cellars’ 13 acres of vineyards were planted in 1979, the first in the state to produce wine under the New Jersey Farm Act of 1981.

Old York Cellars also hosts numerous events and excursions for wine enthusiasts.

For more information, visit