“This neighborhood is like a small town in a big city. We know how to rally around each other and take care of our own. People really pitch in here to make this a community. It’s been very humbling, and I’m unbelievably touched to live around these people.”
So says Greenpoint resident, community activist, single-mother, blogger, and, since June, cancer patient Jennifer Hilton, for whom area residents have organized a fundraiser this coming Thursday, Oct. 16.
The fundraiser will be held at Teddy’s Bar and Grill (96 Berry Street), starting at 7:30 p.m. and ending “when the cows come home,” according to the flyer. All profits from the night, including those from the suggested admission donation, will go towards medical expenses for Hilton, who was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer in May.
It has been a trying few months for Hilton, 45, who lost her job in the licensing industry a month after she was diagnosed and was recently empty-nested when her daughter started college upstate.
But she has taken her challenges head-on, even blogging about her experiences on her website, jen-homeweethome.blogspot.com. The website – which chronicles her experiences battling cancer – is sometimes witty, sometimes upbeat, and always inspirational.
“It helps me reconcile that it is a reality in my life,” she explained of the blog, which she hopes to parlay into a magazine article or series of articles.
“If I didn’t give [the cancer] the voice it deserved, I think it would fester. But when I face up to it, I realize it actually doesn’t have to take over my life.”
Indeed, Hilton has always been way too vivacious to be reduced to any single classification. Her popularity in the community owes largely to her involvement in many community causes through the years. From fighting to save the Williamsburg Bridge, to protesting the proposed Navy Yard incinerator, to advocating for affordable housing in the Williamsburg/Greenpoint 197-A plan, to helping launch the Greenpoint Williamsburg Youth Soccer League, Hilton has always been there for her neighbors. Now her neighbors are returning the favor.
“She’s the type of person who has helped our neighborhood survive and grow. She’s the type of person to get behind,” said Felice Kirby, one of the owner’s of Teddy’s and a friend of Hilton’s.
“She exemplifies what people are thinking about when they think about a hard-working single mom and a great neighbor,” Kirby added.
“She’s smart and has this wonderfully edgy sense of humor,” adding Jane Pool, another neighborhood friend.
“And she’s approaching her cancer with that attitude,” Pool added, saying that “Chemopolitans” and “Colon Cookies” will be served at the fundraiser.
Hilton wants to bring her advocacy skills to the cancer community, placing a particular emphasis on the value of early detection.
She also hopes her diagnosis inspires environmental action in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. For years, Hilton lived near an active plastics factory on Dupont Street, and while she can’t say what, if any, role it played in her cancer, she believes the area’s high cancer rates should compel people to fight for proper remediation of past contamination.
“She’s a fighter,” said Jane Pool. “She always fought for our community and now she’s fighting this.”
The fundraiser will take place at Teddy’s Bar and Grill (93 Berry Street) on Oct. 16, from 7:30 p.m. until well past midnight. All proceeds will go towards Hilton’s medical expenses. There is no cover charge, but donations are suggested.
The Hugh Pool Band, an esteemed blues and rock band, will perform. There will be drink specials and a raffle with giveaways from community businesses.