Category Archives: Philanthropy

california closets

California Closets’ Warm Soles

By Lisa Marie Latino

California Closets is about more than curating beautifully designed custom spaces; they believe in transforming lives through spirited philanthropic efforts.

Enter their unique partnership with Dress for Success, a national organization that empowers women to chase their dreams.  They offer a myriad of tools to help accomplish ultimate achievement, including professional attire.

California Closets’ North Jersey location recently wrapped up their “Warm Soles” promotion that benefitted Dress for Success’ Jersey City chapter.  They offered an incentive of up to 10% off new sales with the donation of professional women’s shoes.

We spoke to Melanie Statlander, marketing manager for CC North Jersey, about the “success” of this charitable venture.

LML: Congratulations on a great campaign! How did the idea come about?

MS: Thank you! Our corporate office started a nationwide program with Dress For Success. Typically, Dress For Success takes suits and other clothing for women who don’t have the means to purchase a professional-looking wardrobe for interviews and new jobs. However, the Jersey City chapter was in desperate need of some shoes to match! So in November and December, we collected new or gently-used professional shoes. To reward new clients with their participation, we offered a discount for every pair donated.

Over the course of the campaign, our designers collected over 900 pairs of shoes, which is amazing! They’re actually still trickling in as people clean out their closets for the new year.

LML: What types of shoes did people donate?

MS: It’s all over the map. We had people donate everything from Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik to brand new shoes from Payless. We got some really pretty heels, flats, boots, and fancy shoes that these women can wear for things other than work!

LML: Is this partnership with Dress For Success going to continue?

MS: The plan is to have our national partnership with Dress For Success to be an ongoing collaboration.  Some of the franchises are going to test a program for clothing donations from their clients, but that’s not ready to launch nationally yet.

LML: How was it like to personally participate in this campaign?

MS: I physically packaged 925 pairs of shoes. I still have a pile in my office that I have to box up today! It warmed my heart to see people going above and beyond to make this successful. It’s a fantastic charity all about women helping women, and I really like that.

California Closets North Jersey has showroom locations in Fairfield, Bernardsville and Ridgewood. For more information, visit

Shoes 2


The Connie Dwyer Breast Center 10th Anniversary Gala

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 Maria Falzo was on the pink carpet of the Center’s 10th Anniversary gala at The Grove in Cedar Grove, and shared in the joy of the Center’s key supporters.

“When we started we saw 4,500 women and did 4,500 procedures in 2005” says Janet Lesko, the Center’s Director of Development “This year, we’re going to do over 20,000! We turn no woman away so regardless of her ability to pay, we will take care of that woman.”

Not only was attending the event a way to give back (as every person who attended helped make a mark for the advancement and cure of breast cancer!) the auction prizes were exquisite! Ranging from luxury-brand handbags to a trip to Milan, attendees had a chance to bring a small (or large) part of the celebration home with them.

Daniel Paltridge, president of Bvlgari North Americatalked fondly about his company’s relationship with the Center. “Connie has been a friend of the brand for many years and Bulgari is very proud about everything they can do to help.”

No one was prouder than Bob and Connie Dwyer’s children- Becky Morano, Maureen Griffith and Susan Cabana.

“It’s amazing to see how many people have come out to support [our parents].  They are so grateful to have so many people in their lives help further their cause,” gushed Susan.

For more on The Connie Dwyer Breast Center, log onto

w. cary edwards foundation

A Night at the Races with the W. Cary Edwards Foundation

The W. Cary Edwards Foundation recently hosted its 5th annual fundraising event at Victory Sports Bar (inside the Meadowlands Racetrack) in East Rutherford, and #HipNJ was present at the glittery gala!

The “Night at the Races” event featured a grand reception that included passed hors d’oeuvres, premium dinner selections and a top shelf open bar. Adding to the festive mood was the music of The Sterling Band, New Jersey’s premiere live act.  Among the VIP guests that attended the event included former New York Giants Super Bowl Champion, Steve Weatherford and NBC 4 New York reporter, Lauren Scala.  Mike Garafalo of Fox Sports served as the night’s master of ceremonies.  The night even featured a surprise wedding proposal!

The W. Cary Edwards Foundation, named after the late New Jersey Attorney General, is aimed towards raising money to help fund scholarships and education of New Jersey students.

Marcy Benner, daughter of Cary and co-founder of the Foundation, tells #HipNJ’s Kelly Dillon that she strives to continue the work that her dad started.

“He was such a proponent on education and went to school on scholarship himself.  When he passed we thought it was fitting that we begin something to try to help others achieve their dreams too.”

Mike Garafolo, a friend of the family for years, spoke very highly of the Foundation, stating that, “it has not lost steam since they started out and it continues to grow every year.”

Steve Weatherford was totally on board with the night’s purpose. “Education lasts so much longer than an athletics career,” he stressed. “I think even more than athletics is empowering yourself and what this foundation is able to do is give children the opportunity to empower themselves with knowledge.”

“My husband always wanted to make a difference, and make this world a little bit better everyday, and in our own way, that’s what we’re trying to do,” explained Lynn Edwards, wife of Cary Edwards.

To learn more about the W. Cary Edwards Foundation, visit

For more photos from the event, click here.