Two local nonprofits win Land Rovers in national competition

On Friday, February 18, two local nonprofits will accept all-new Land Rover Defender SUVs from the automaker’s Southampton dealership. Unexpectedly, these two East End organizations – Hamptons Community Outreach, based in Bridgehampton, and New York Marine Rescue Center in Riverhead – won two of the seven vehicles up for grabs in the national Defender Above & Beyond Service Awards competition. from Landrover.

The charities, which are just over 25 miles apart, beat out other worthwhile nonprofits spread across the United States in their individual categories, Coastal & Marine Conservation (NYMRC) and Urban Improvement ( HCO). And while the need for NYMRC’s work to protect endangered marine mammals and sea turtles isn’t dictated by the area’s wealth, or lack thereof, some might wonder how Hamptons Community Outreach prevailed over the groups from the most devastated and poorest regions of the country. The answer is simple: not everyone in this so-called playground of the rich and famous lives this glamorous life.

In fact, it’s this disparity that can make things particularly difficult for families struggling to pay their bills, or even eat, in cities where the cost of living is much more suited to the 1%. The need is real, says Hamptons Community Outreach founder and executive director Marit Molin, who started her organization as Hamptons Art Camp, a summer program for underprivileged children that later evolved as needs grew. changed in the community.

Hamptons Art Camp for KidsCourtesy of HCO

“I realized there were a lot of kids spending the summer in front of the TV or in the back of their parents’ truck waiting for them to finish work,” Molin says, explaining how Hamptons Art Camp took shape in 2018 as a wonderful and enriching experience for children aged 6-12. “Forty percent of children are underserved and don’t pay,” she continues, pointing out that HAC has a diverse camper population, which is good for children on both sides of the vast financial chasm that often separates them.

“We see friendships being forged between different communities and different types of children,” says Molin. “We absolutely love to see this happen – it makes us so happy. Kids who normally wouldn’t be friends leave camp together, they go home and they have play dates.

But things changed when the pandemic hit in 2020. “…we couldn’t fundraise for the camp and we didn’t know if the camp would happen,” Molin recalls, so she relied on her training as a registered social worker, turning to the local marginalized communities where she works to ask how she could help. “Everyone said we needed food,” Molin recalls.

Marit Molin prepares meals for the community
Marit Molin prepares meals for the communityCourtesy of HCO

“We started a gofundme campaign, we started writing letters, reaching out to wealthy people, like clubs, societies and businesses,” she continues. “People were really generous. There was something about the pandemic that really made people want to give. Molin’s efforts raised an incredible $300,000, so she put it to good use. “We delivered 6,500 hot meals and 90,000 pounds of fresh produce and groceries every two weeks for 250 families,” she says. “At that time we were much more than an art camp, so we changed our name to Hamptons Community Outreach.”

Hamptons Art Camp is now back in action and after a summer of programs divided into two small groups and two shorter sessions each day, they will return to individual sessions this summer with all of their 100+ campers doing a wide variety of arts and crafts, outdoor water play, and more for six weeks at both The Church and Old Whalers Church in Sag Harbor.

Hamptons Art Camp for Kids
Hamptons Art Camp Children at Sag Harbor ChurchCourtesy of HCO

At the same time, the mission of Hamptons Community Outreach continues to grow. The organization now has four major programs: Food Awareness, Free Mental Health Services, Children’s Awareness, and their #ICARE Crisis Fund which has the flexibility to help struggling residents in a variety of ways, such as repairing at home and medical assistance.

“It was started because there were a lot of people contacting us who just had nowhere to turn, workers, uninsured workers who had accidents,” Molin says of the fund. , recounting a case where a man in his early 40s lost his sight and, as a result, lost his income, the room he was renting, and even his food. “He had been fired from his job, so we raised money for vision restoration surgery and it was a success,” she shares. “Now he has a place to live and he has a job, and he volunteers for Hamptons Community Outreach. He delivers food to us in the Hampton Bays area.

Before and after photos of a house repaired by Hamptons Community Outreach
Before and after photos of a house repaired by Hamptons Community OutreachCourtesy of HCO

HCO’s home improvement program has made life-saving improvements to residences where people were forced to live in unacceptable conditions. “We repaired about eight houses. Right now we have 14 families on the waiting list,” says Molin. “People are living with toxic black mold and cracked windows with no heating system, and they have no resources or anywhere to go,” she continues, crediting volunteers like Alex Forden of Forden & Co. Builders of Sag. Harbor who offer their services or help obtain reduced rates from others.

The organization’s children’s center outreach program includes Hamptons Art Camp, but it also runs a birthday club – providing cakes and gifts to children from poor families who cannot afford to celebrate their birthdays – and a tutoring program. “We currently have around 28 students at Southampton High School and College, and they have been identified as needing help by guidance counselors and teachers,” says Molin, explaining that students are matched with approved teachers. as tutors and then assessed. From beginning to end. “The results we’re seeing are just fantastic,” she says, describing a boy who went from a 55 GPA to an 89 after spending time with his tutor. “He was really struggling and he was in a lot of pain. There were a lot of problems at home,” Molin adds, noting that the boy eventually told them he never learned to study, but once the tutor helped him, he found the schoolwork. much easier and even admitted to enjoying it.

Hamptons Community Outreach's New Land Rover Defender SUV
Hamptons Community Outreach’s New Land Rover Defender SUVCourtesy of HCO

Obviously, Land Rover watched HCO’s submission video and recognized their good work. They were chosen from five finalists in their category, along with NYMRC (watch their submission video), and the two nonprofits prevailed after a public voting period in August 2021. Finally, the organizations learned the good news during a Zoom Live reveal, “Oscars style,” Molin says. . “They took a slip out of an envelope – so they said ‘Category, Urban Improvement’…and they read the name Hamptons Community Outreach, and we just started jumping and screaming, we just couldn’t get there believe.”

From there, the winners customized their Defenders with accessories to meet their specific needs. Land Rover also wrapped each SUV with the nonprofits’ logos, then brought HCO and NYMR to Asheville, North Carolina, for driver training and to showcase their work to Land Rover executives, before wrapping up. the trip with a visit to the vineyard and a banquet. “They were fantastic, adorable and generous – memories of a lifetime,” Molin recalls.

New York Marine Rescue Center rescues stranded dolphin
New York Marine Rescue Center rescues stranded dolphinCourtesy of NYMRC

New York Marine Rescue Center director Danielle Perillo said the Land Rover would be instrumental in their work, which often takes them to desolate sandy beaches to retrieve cold-stunned turtles and stranded seals . “With a Land Rover Defender, we will be able to get to these places and these animals much faster,” she says.

Hampton Community Outreach will use its Defender to move building materials and deliver food, among other tasks aimed at improving the lives of people in their community.

Learn more about Hampton Community Outreach and Hamptons Art Camp at hamptonscommunityoutreach.org and hamptonsartcamp.org.

Visit the New York Marine Rescue Center at nymarinerescue.org.

To learn more about the Land Rover Defender Above & Beyond Service Awards competition and see all the finalists and their submission videos, visit landroverusa.com.

Martin E. Berry