Kelly Killoren Bensimon is an influencer. That’s for sure. The mom of two teenage girls appeared in three seasons of the Real Housewives of New York City, and always seems to be in the mix out in the Hamptons (in a good way). We love seeing her put that influence to good use: her mission is to help families in need. We spoke with Kelly about her charity work and how every mom can make a difference.
Stroller Traffic: Kelly, tell us about your charities, Food Bank for New York City and Generosity Water. How did you become involved?
KKB: I’ve worked with Food Bank for four years; I started after I was on RHONY. Food, water, and education are my big initiatives. Being in New York, Food Bank seemed like a natural fit. It’s a local charity, and the actual bank/warehouse through which all the food for the pantries goes. It’s a solid community and not a fancy organization. It’s a very powerful machine that feeds New Yorkers.
ST: And Generosity Water?
KKB: I became involved with Generosity Water three years ago. I was in Las Vegas and I met the founder at a charity dinner. I knew I could make a difference.
ST: And we hear that you have—made a difference, that is. We also heard that you have worked with food charities since you were young. Tell us about that.
KKB: I grew up in Illinois, and helped out at the Salvation Army when I was 15, working with food. So this is an extension of my youth and how I was raised. When I was on TV, I wanted not to be the girl who fought with castmates, but the girl who could make a difference and use her name on a larger scale. I wanted to set the tone for what giving looks like.
ST: You’ve been to Haiti for Generosity Water, to see families in need. How did that affect you?
KKB: I’ve taken several trips to Haiti, and on the past two trips, I brought my 15-year-old daughter. That was the most important part of the trip. I know I’m capable of helping, and raising raise money to provide water in areas of need, but showing my daughter what hope looks like was incredible. She has a strong social media voice, and I realized from her communicating with friends, and her friends re-tweeting and instagramming, that she has an ability to communicate and to implement real change. Her empathy coupled with her powerful vision to help impressed me. I felt so much pride, and humility.
ST: That’s awesome to hear. So tell us, what’s your role, exactly?
KKB: I’m coined as a celebrity ambassador for Food Bank, but I consider myself a friend of the family. My girls and I want everyone to be able to have a meal, have clean water, and to have and recognize possibilities. That’s my mission in life.
ST: How can other mothers help?
KKB: Donate, or turn up to a pantry. I take my kids in the trenches. We go to the warehouse, we pack the boxes we go to pantries, serve the food, we cut vegetables, mop the floors. I take their friends with us all the time. If the girls are having a sleepover, we wake up and say, Hey, we are going to the Food Bank to help out.
ST:What’s it like being a busy mom in New York? How do you juggle, yet still find time to be involved in these charities?
KKB: Philanthropy is a big part of my life. My first job is to be the best parent I can be. The second is to provide for my kids. And the third is to raise well-adjusted, giving girls. With that comes philanthropy. It was how I was raised. I don’t think of it as a duty. It’s part of my DNA. So, do what you can do, enlist your friends, tweet it, instagram Food Bank, do whatever you can to help and communicate it as loud as possible.
ST: What do you and the girls do in New York when you’re not advocating for the needy?
KKB: We just started taking ballet again. My daughters studied ballet with Manhattan Ballet School when they were younger. Now they are teenagers. I love that it is rooted in athleticism but has so much grace.
ST: We hear you. It’s a fantastic discipline. What are you working on right now?
KKB: I just finished my fifth book, In the Spirit of the Hamptons. I’m also getting my MBA. And I continue to write columns on style and to interview dynamic New Yorkers.
ST: Wow. Well, congrats on the book and thanks for making time to chat with us.