COLUMBUS, OH – “In the state of Ohio, 1 in 4 children go hungry. In South Central Ohio, 1 in 3 children go hungry. We can do better. We need to do better,” said independent insurance agent Mark S. Hunter, CSRM, owner of Hunter-Williams Insurance Agency in Portsmouth.
Hunter received the 2015 Community Service Award for his selfless work helping the impoverished children in his southern Ohio community at the 2015 Professional Independent Agents Association of Ohio, Inc. (PIAA) Conference on Oct. 9 in Dublin.
Hunter and wife Virgie established the Steven A Hunter Hope Fund in 2006 after their 21-year-old son tragically died of an unknown congenital heart defect while at tennis practice at Milligan College. Though young, their son was already well known in their community for his compassion and acts of kindness. “Steven was a special child with an amazing ability to connect with anyone he met. We knew when he passed away that we needed to find a way to continue his work,” Hunter said.
The Steven A Hunter fund originally covered expenses for clothing, books, tutors, dental and vision checkups, and whatever else the disadvantaged children needed. The purpose was to give these children the same benefits and experiences others get and to treat them with dignity, as their son did his whole life.
But after a few years, the Hunters felt they weren’t doing enough. That’s when they expanded their efforts to fighting childhood hunger in the community through the Steven’s Power Pack Club, which this year alone provides 825 students in 15 different schools with a package of food before they leave school every Friday.
The logistics of getting food to each of them at multiple schools each weekend is no small task, but the impact is tremendous. Jim Daehler, a close family friend who was Steven’s tennis coach, said the children’s eyes light up when they see the food packages on Fridays because they know they will get to eat over the weekend.
“No one can fathom the time and energy Mark invests in helping the children. Steven, too, had a great zest for life, and he got that from his parents,” Daehler said.
Other charities that have offered help to the Hunters are astounded at how the fund has grown beyond expectations. But whenever the couple wonders how they could possibly expand their reach, something positive happens and the fund continues to grow. Hunter sites a loving, supportive community as one source of strength. “We also have faith because God has given us a mission to help hungry children,” Hunter added.
Hunter and his wife were among others recognized to celebrate the vital role independent insurance agents play in their communities. “In the end, we’re just a couple of grieving parents who love children dearly, and we just want to help them while keeping the memory of our son alive,” he said.
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