Most members of the community know of Mark Hunter. If not for his successful independent insurance agency, Hunter-Williams Insurance, then for his many volunteer efforts in the community, as well as the program he operates in memory of his late son, Steven A. Hunter.
Hunter was recently honored for his determination to do good by winning the 2015 Community Service Award at the Professional Independent Agents Association of Ohio, Inc. Conference earlier this month.
He was awarded the honor due to his work with the Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund.
The Hope Fund is a non-profit dedicated to serving children in many capacities. He has grown it from an entity that served Portsmouth City Schools, to an entity that feeds food insecure children in three counties.
“In the state of Ohio, one in four children go hungry. In south central Ohio, one in three children go hungry,” Hunter said. “We can do better. We need to do better.”
Hunter and his 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, Steven was already well-known in the 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. “Most children live their lives trying to live up to their parents, but we will be living our lives trying to fill his shoes.”
Since Steven was a devout Portsmouth Trojan, his parents started the Hope Fund in Portsmouth City Schools, where they assisted economically depressed families afford school supplies, clothing, and more. The program kept steady until Virgie felt they could be doing more. Since then, Mark and Virgie have been working tirelessly for nearly a decade to touch the lives of as many children in need as possible through the Steven Power Pack Program.
The Power Pack program sends prepared meals to over 850 students in 15 schools and operates at an annual budget of $100,000. Hunter prides himself on his organization sending very little of that funding on anything other than food.
Hunter continues to raise funds to hold their growth steady and to find more so they can grow further. They Hunters put a lot of faith in the community they support, and much more in God, who they say led them to finding the strength to accomplish what they’ve done.
“We also have faith because God has given us a mission to help hungry children,” Hunter added. “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.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter JosephPratt03.