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!

Grace Eline and The Valerie Fund

Last month, Morris County resident Grace Eline was one of 13 guests invited to the State of the Union by President Donald Trump and the First Lady. #HipNJ’s Lisa Marie Latino sits down several special guests, including Grace herself.

Bunny Flanders, Director of Communications at The Valerie Fund, shares the incredible mission that was started by Sue and Ed Goldstein in 1976, after the loss of their daughter Valerie to childhood cancer. They experienced first-hand the added burden of traveling to Manhattan for treatment, and the high costs of treatment. Sue and Ed vowed to help families in similar situations gain easier access to more customized care.

Now, the Valerie Fund treats 6,000 children per year at seven treatment centers. They also award post-secondary scholarships to children as another way of easing the financial burden on these families.

Grace’s grandfather, Dan Reichard, saw the expert care being given to his granddaughter, and was himself, inspired. Dan’s idea was to create a “show house”, which showcases the talent and vision of some of the area’s most extraordinary interior designs. You can find more information on the house, located in Plainfield, NJ on The Valerie Fund’s site.

Grace, who is now cancer-free, speaks very highly of her time in the White House. She says Melania Trump, who “smelled like…Chanel” was very nice, and even extended an invitation to return to the White house anytime!

Now that her priorities have shifted back to just being a kid, Grace enjoys playing sports like basketball and softball, gymnastics and painting. She has even served as the honorary captain of the New York Jets!

The Valerie Fund clearly had a profound account on Grace, who discusses her time at sleep-away camp, Camp Happy Times, as being special to her because of the comradery between her and other children who have shared experiences. At only 10-years-old, Grace already want to use this experience to help others, by hoping to one day become a doctor. She hopes that her experiences and first-hand account of treatment to help her patients.

To learn more about the Valerie Fund and the April 25th Grand Opening of the show house, visit:

Hip List Picks: Step into Spring with Rhino Flops

#HipNJ’s Maria Falzo is kicking off the March #HipList with Rhino Flops! Spring is right around the corner, and this brightly colored footwear is what your feet have been longing for all winter.

With tons of personality, these quality, Brazilian-crafted flip flops are perfect for your vacay style, or even your stay-cay style.  Each pair is created with colors and images that evoke the beauty found in nature.

And because kindness never goes out of style, each pair sold gives back to Africa’s Thula Thula Conservation Fund, which dedicates itself to giving rhinos and other animals a fighting chance for survival.

Rhino Flops are available online at or at Boutique 161 in Morristown, NJ.

You can win your own pair of Rhino Flops from #HipNJ! Here’s how to enter our giveaway:

  1. Follow #HipNJ on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
  2. Find our RhinoFlops contest post.
  3. Refer to the post’s rules.

Hurry – our #HipList winners will be picked at the end of March!

Dr. Drew Speaks on Addiction and Mental Illness

Whether you call him a highly accredited medical professional or a salacious, celebrity commentator, you can’t deny that at some point or another, you’ve called upon Dr. Drew Pinksy for guidance. Dr. Drew’s experience as an addiction specialist and as a charismatic talk-show host/media personality, have helped him to sustain 30 plus years in the public eye with a variety of audiences seeking his insight- celebrities included!

It’s hard to nail down what Dr. Drew is ‘best known’ for, but depending on what you select, you may unwittingly reveal your age… So for now, let’s just read this in rhetoric.

Is it ‘Loveline’, the nationally syndicated radio show which helped to launch his career in media?
VH1’s Celebrity Rehab?
MTV’s Teen Mom?
His family of podcasts reflecting on mental health issues, relationship advice, sex education or drug addiction?

The guy has done it all.

It comes as no surprise that he would be a key panelist and guest speaker through The National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS) at a very special appearance which took place at the Event Center in IPLAY America in Freehold, NJ.

NSLS’s Q&A with Dr. Drew generated a crowd of all ages (male and female) for a LIVE broadcast with audience members able to interact on the spot by ‘tweeting’ in their general and personal questions for Pinsky to respond to. Video chats were set up on giant, high-def screens so students from across the country were all capable of joining in and participating in the conversation.

Before the nitty-gritty really began, Dr. Drew introduced the night by discussing his own battles with depression and anxiety and how choosing to live a life of service is what led him to overcome those obstacles and propelled his success. As a best-selling author, a board-certified internist, therapist, addiction medicine expert, Dr. Drew jokingly refers to his occupational course as a “mistake”.  Meaning, to him, he embarked on this accidental journey from a medical student to one of the world’s most recognizable doctors simply by building his resiliency, using all of his creative talents and passions to connect with people, and by exploring his options to their fullest potential.

As anticipated, once the conversation was sparked, there was a lot to cover!

Between the science behind addiction as a disease and de-stigmatizing mental illness – two very prevalent issues and hot topics among adolescent and adult Jersey residents – Dr. Drew linked all the facets of neurology/biology, lack of spirituality and psychology, experiential/behavioral afflictions and even regulation control, all as contributors to the chaos and clutter which can fester in an individual’s everyday reality. Dr. Drew is at the forefront of many of these celebrity psychiatric breakdowns and treats those with the most severe cases of drug dependency as we all see the pop culture headlines splash across every platform constantly. This subject matter may be at times controversial, but they are not going away. Addiction and mental illness are two things that have affected many of us directly or the people we love most. It is truly important to Dr. Drew to spread awareness and never stop talking about it.

Towards the end of the session, Dr. Drew presented the assembly with a copy of his latest autobiographical book, Cracked: Life on the Edge in a Rehab Clinic. In this enticing paperback, Pinsky reveals the intimate details and often fascinating anecdotes of his patients (identity protected, of course) as they undertake a lifestyle dealing with emotional trauma, sexual abuse, and/or a host of chemical nemeses: alcohol, Ecstasy, heroin, cocaine, prescription drugs and more. At the core of these stories is Pinsky himself, who has submerged himself intensely in his work. From the overly scrutinized, compulsive public figures and social influencers that the younger generation admires to the average mini-van driving ‘soccer mom’ that everyone ignores, Cracked exposes powerful scenarios and the sincere scope and rigor of addiction as a nationwide epidemic that simply does not discriminate.

If you or anyone you know is seeking help with social disorders, mental illness, or any form of addition, know it is okay to be there support system. If you notice a change in behavior or an individual who appears to be induced to a vulnerable state, do not ignore. Go to a professional or an authority and seek help.