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!

Fabulous Females: Parker Sanchez

There’s a meme I see often – “Real Queens Fix Each Other’s Crowns.” This month’s Fabulous Female very appropriately has a real crown! Parker Sanchez, from Hardwick, is the reigning Mrs. Universal. On top of that she’s a part time SAHM of two active toddlers and works part time at The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms. Parker recently changed careers after teaching ballroom dancing for over a decade. Prior to teaching dance, Parker attended Fordham University, where she obtained a B.A. in American Studies and an M.A. in History. Beauty and brains!

Parker has been involved in pageantry for ten years, and once she entered her first pageant she was hooked. For her it was a way to network with incredibly passionate, driven women who were doing serious volunteerism and using their titles to promote causes dear to their hearts. Parker is an ambassador and advisor for The Unmentionables, a nonprofit organization that provides forcibly displaced individuals and communities around the world with safe and consistent access to sexual and reproductive health education, services, and protection and empowerment programs.

Parker manages to single handedly run a household with two toddlers and a husband who’s in law enforcement (with a crazy schedule), volunteer for The Unmentionables and use her title as a megaphone to promote other causes she cares about. It’s exhaustive, but she has the support of her husband Pablo, or as she calls him, “Mr. Universal.” She told me that Pablo isn’t the type of guy to ask “why?”, but instead says “why not?” to any crazy idea or plan she has. There’s nothing more empowering for a woman than a husband who’s supporting and understanding (oh yeah and he’s my cousin!).

When I asked Parker how she’s able to juggle everything, she said she multitasks like a boss! For her the drive is that she wants her children see a mom who’s passionate about bettering the world, and to demonstrate to them that you can do anything you set your mind to … and of course Starbucks helps!! Give me that red eye stat!

Robin DiLauri Filippone Lends Her Voice to the Pink Crusade

By: Robin DiLauri Filippone

The Inferno’s Band travels all over the world. There have been so many unbelievable experiences but to this day, there is one that I still have a hard time explaining in words…

My first time performing with The Infernos at the Susan G. Komen North Jersey breast cancer walk was a day I will never forget. I can’t begin to tell you the emotions that were inside of me. A surreal feeling, as if you are a part of something so much bigger. A truly magical feeling. An ocean of pink. Thousands of women who were sisters. An unspoken family. Holding each other, hugging, laughing, singing and dancing at 8AM in the morning!

The Infernos were also a part of another amazing event, Minette’s Angels 15th anniversary gala. The night was a beautiful execution of selfless people helping those in need while keeping the memory of mother, wife, sister, friend, Minette McKenna.

This year, breast cancer hit me right at home. My best friend, Tracy, who is like family, was diagnosed. My dear survivor warrior friend Deb Belfatto (whom I met when through the Infernos band,) directed us to Tracy’s angels on earth- the man who would soon saved her life, Dr. Michael Scoppetuolo and his lovely wife, Rosemary.

Needless to say, when I was asked to sing at the Fashion for the Pink Crusade, which raises funds for the Saint Barnabas Breast Center (that helped my friend get through 20 grueling treatments of chemotherapy) there was no choice but to say YES. The honor is all mine. The idea of filling a room with music among survivors, family members, donors, and friends fills my heart with such joy. I am singing a ballad of hope and strength.

For more information about Fashion for the Pink Crusade, click here.

World Food Day: How Can You Contribute to #ZeroHunger?

World Food Day is celebrated every year on October 16th to honor the start of the Food and Agriculture Organization in 1945. The point of this day is to bring awareness to and stop world hunger, as well as ensuring food security and nutritious diets for everyone. FAO’s goal is to stop world hunger by 2030 and they believe that it is  very achievable if we all pitch in. They have named this effort The Zero Hunger Challenge. There’s really no reason for ANYONE across the globe to be starving. We have already made progress towards #ZeroHunger, why stop now?

 According to FAO, “out of the 129 countries monitored by FAO, 72 have already achieved the target of halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 2015; over the past 20 years, the likelihood of a child dying before age five has been nearly cut in half, with about 17,000 children saved every day; extreme poverty rates have been cut in half since 1990”. If this isn’t progress, I don’t know what is. This should encourage us to keep pushing, to reach the ultimate goal. 

In NJ alone, 1,141,890 people are “food insecure”, according to End Hunger NJ. This puts the food insecurity rate at 13%, which may seem like a small percentage to you, but just think about those people who are actually apart of that 13%. Luckily, New Jersey cares, and therefore, there are many programs dedicated to decreasing this number to 0. We just have to participate. 

Here are 5 New Jersey based organizations that are dedicated to ending world hunger:

1. Hunger Free New Jersey

Hunger Free New Jersey works to eliminate world hunger by educating the public of the issue’s causes and solutions, growing their organization with diverse individuals, and fighting for legislative and policy changes to ensure that NJ residents have enough healthy food to eat. 

2. Table to Table

Table to Table collects perfectly good food that would be disposed of and delivers it to over 160 community organizations which include soup kitchens, homeless shelters, elderly homes, and after-school programs. They serve the hungry in Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Passaic counties. This year, they have promised the delivery of over 20 million meals. 

3. Rutgers Against Hunger

Rutgers University has developed Rutgers Against Hunger (RAH) to address hunger across New Jersey. This involves bringing awareness to the issue, developing research, encouraging participation, and putting an end to hunger through food drives and other events to raise money and collect food. RAH is not limited to  those affiliated with the institution. Rutgers encourages all concerned citizens to join them and take action. 

4. Community Food Bank of New Jersey 

The Community Food Bank of New Jersey, located in Hillside and Egg Harbor Twnshp, fights hunger through food and nutrition programs, food stamps, and their Food Service Training Academy (FSTA). The FSTA starts from the root of the problem, by addressing the main cause of hunger, poverty. They provide graduates with job skills that make them marketable. Its a free, 15-week program that teaches students about communication,  nutrition and healthy cooking. So far, they have graduated over 2,500 students, with a job placement rate of 90%. 

5. Curbing Hunger, Inc. 

Located in Basking Ridge, NJ, Curbing Hunger, Inc. is a community based program that provides food for the hungry when food banks are unable to due to low supply. This usually happens during the summer months, which forces most bank to close their doors. This is why their motto is “Hunger doesn’t take a vacation”. Their mission is to reduce hunger during the most crucial times, when supplies are low, by supporting food banks and pantries, and encourages others to do the same. 

These are just five of the many programs available in New Jersey to help end hunger. It is so easy to visit an organization’s website and click “Donate”. Anything counts. The ways in which you can help are limitless. Volunteer, donate, start your own organization. So, how will you contribute to #ZeroHunger