Daytime talk show host Wendy Williams wants to help drug addicts and those who suffer from substance abuse, along with their families. Because she ventured down that path herself, she knows the importance of helping those suffering.
On Thursday, August 23, Williams made a stop at The House of Blues in Chicago as part of her Season 10 “The Wendy Williams Show” market tour. She talked about her upcoming season as well as the foundation she has established to help substance abusers. The foundation, the Hunter Foundation, has also kicked off a “Be Here” campaign.
The House of Blues event progressed just like her show, filmed in front of a studio audience. The stage was set with a lavender plush chair, a small table with flowers and her signature cup that she drinks her tea from while spilling the latest entertainment tea. There were giveaways, a DJ spinning Williams’ favorite tunes, a selfie station, a professional on-site glam squad where all participants could get their nails, hair or makeup done topping it off with a free drink, all courtesy of Wendy.
In 2014, media mogul Wendy Williams Hunter and her business partner, husband Kevin Hunter, created The Hunter Foundation to provide grants and in-kind services for youth and families suffering from drug addiction and substance abuse.
The Hunter Foundation is a leading non-profit that provides grants for drug education, prevention, and rehabilitation programs. Williams said her family’s mission is dedicated to support and serving young people (and their families) as they transition from addiction to recovery.
Williams stated, “substance abuse is not only something we should talk about, but we have to stand up to it.”
In 2015, William’s son, Kevin Jr., was given K2, a dangerous synthetic form of marijuana, and they jumped into action to get their only child on the “good side of good.” This personal experience deepened Hunter’s life mission to fortify organizations that increase public awareness about addiction and abuse and help youth live healthy, drug-free lives. The foundation’s devoted partners offer residential treatment centers, counseling, education and outpatient resources.
“We’re in a situation right now dealing with this K2 epidemic. A lot of people in this country are walking around like zombies,” Williams said. “After they go to the hospital [overnight], they’ll sleep it off and walk back outside doing the same thing at the building on the corner, right back high again.”
Despite the K2 scare, Williams was happy to say that Kevin Hunter Jr., 18, is off to college this year.
Williams and her family are also advocates for education. “We Hunters do believe in education. I graduated college from Northeastern University. I know school is not for everyone but if you choose not to go to school, you better have a plan, and it better be a damn good one.”
Through the foundation, The Hunters have sent several children who have never before left their neighborhoods to camp outside of their environment, and this year the foundation is sending youth to college.
The foundation also launched The “Be Here” campaign, an economic effort to create systemic change in the fight against the drug epidemic. With generous assistance from public and private donations, the organizations that they support serve young people (and their families) as they transition from addiction to recovery.
The mission of “Be Here” is to support the treatment and recovery of those facing drug addiction, work towards creating lasting solutions through legislation and support innovative treatment.
“Be Here” is the Hunter’s second part of the foundation in which their goal is to raise $10 million in five years. “If you have $1 million laying around well come on (Wendy laughs); On a serious tone, I spent over 10 years of my life being a functioning addict. I was doing my thing, I was making the ratings, I was a mess, and I’m not ashamed to say that.”
The Chicago event on Thursday night was filled with audience members dancing to the music and good-naturedly waiting as they chanted “Wendy, Wendy.”
Wendy doesn’t call her fans, “fans,” she calls them “her people.” They are family. In honor of Aretha Franklin’s recent passing, Williams’ theme music was “Rocksteady.” She came on stage in a glamorous white top, blue jean hot pants, bearing her lower abdomen tattoo, and low top blue jean tennis shoes.
Williams stated, “I appreciate people for riding with me for these 10 years.” She went on to talk about her personal interview with Aretha Franklin and her foundation and campaign. Audience members were chosen to “Ask Wendy” questions for her advice which sent the event into amusing pandemonium.
Williams even acknowledged her controversial status among viewers.
“I know on Tuesday l may say something you may not like and then you might not watch on Wednesday, but please come back by Friday. I’m the aunt, daughter, your sister, I’m your straightforward friend, I’m just Wendy.”
Wendy Williams is back and ready to snatch some wigs on Monday, Sept. 10. on Fox 32. She said the first episode will be “Insane.” The daytime talk show will air in high-definition when it returns and will feature a new studio, enhanced set, extended “Hot Topics” segment and much more.