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Nov 25, 2013 2:24 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

New Leader Being Groomed To Take Over Human Resources Of The Hamptons Next Spring

Nov 25, 2013 3:17 PM

For the past 21 years, Southampton resident Mary Ann Tupper has dedicated her life to helping the less fortunate on the East End.As the head of Human Resources of the Hamptons, Ms. Tupper has been the individual behind many coat, food, clothing and donation drives in support of the area’s hungry and homeless. Now 65, Ms. Tupper has announced that she will be retiring in the spring, and is working to train her replacement to keep the not-for-profit thriving for years to come.

Taking the helm will be Kerry Lewendoski, also a Southampton resident, who has volunteered with the organization for several years. A mother of three, Ms. Lewendoski said this week she is excited to slide into the top position and be a part of the largest philanthropic organization on the East End—Human Resources of the Hamptons boasts more than 130 volunteers.

“I love this town,” Ms. Lewendoski said. “I live in Southampton, and I am very proud of the fact that I am from here. I am well aware that not everybody is as lucky as I am to be able to sustain themselves properly. To be able to make a difference in one life is huge to me.”

For the next few months, Ms. Lewendoski will work alongside Ms. Tupper to learn the ropes. She started in the fall because she wants to learn how to handle the organization when it is at its busiest: right before and during the holidays.

That is when the group is responsible for distributing approximately 250 turkeys and 2,500 presents, while also running a food pantry, among other charitable endeavors. One of the organization’s most popular fundraisers, the annual Polar Bear Plunge at Coopers Beach in Southampton Village, is celebrating its 10th anniversary next month. The event will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 14.

Ms. Tupper, who will officially step down from her post on June 27, 2014, first became involved with Human Resources of the Hamptons through her work with the youth group at the Southampton Presbyterian Church when it was holding a canned food drive. When her predecessor became ill and had to step down, Ms. Tupper said she felt a connection with the organization and took over.

“We reach into the community, and we are proud to say that we give people a hand up, not a handout,” she said.

Although she is excited to retire, Ms. Tupper noted that she will still be involved in the community, but will be taking on a different role—one as a volunteer instead of an organizer. “I want Kerry to take the reins and run the organization her way,” she said. “That is what I intend to let happen. Of course, if she needs advice or my help, I will be glad to give her all that I can.”

With her soon-to-come newfound free time, Ms. Tupper said she intends to split time between her house in Southampton Village and a home she has in South Carolina, adding that she will spend most of her time on Long Island with her two granddaughters, Naeve, 3, and Brynn, 1. Both girls live in East Hampton with Ms. Tupper’s son, Jeffrey, and his wife, Erin. Ms. Tupper and her husband, Bill, have another son, Brian, who is teaching in South Korea.

Ms. Lewendoski said this week that she plans to absorb as much as she can from Ms. Tupper over the next few months. Born and raised in Southampton, Ms. Lewendoski is a graduate of Southampton High School, and attended the State University of New York at Cortland and Suffolk County Community College.

She first became familiar with Human Resources of the Hamptons while working at the Basilica Parish of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Southampton Village about seven years ago, and began volunteering a short time later. She has been one of four paid employees for the past two years. Ms. Tupper, who broke her foot this summer, said she learned about Ms. Lewendoski’s pending retirement after she offered her assistance in her recovery.

Ms. Lewendoski said she is thrilled to be taking over, noting that she plans to get her family involved in the organization, too. She said her husband, Paul, and their three children, Erin, 11, and 4-year-old twins Jack and Zoe will attend events, help with arts and crafts projects, and be involved in youth programs.

While she does not know where the organization will take her, Ms. Lewendoski said she feels blessed to be trained by Ms. Tupper, and hopes to have a similar impact on the community.

“I don’t think I could ask for a better mentor to train me and show me the ropes,” she said. “I can just hope that I can come close to filling her shoes, because she is leaving an amazing legacy behind.”

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Mrs. Tupper is a saint and those are some mighty big shoes to fill.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Nov 28, 13 9:51 AM
1 member liked this comment
Having worked with Mary Ann for a number of years I know that she is truly one of "the good guys" and will be missed. Thank you, Mary Ann, for everything you've done for those less fortunate among us.
By JohnM (7), Hampton Bays on Nov 29, 13 7:49 AM
Mary Ann has known Kerry her whole life. Kerry comes from a fine hardworking, dedicated and giving family. Kerry's mother was a school teacher that the local children loved, as she to gave of her time unconditionally. There is no doubt that Mary Anne has picked an incredible replacement :-)
By NorthSeaNative (34), Southampton on Nov 29, 13 8:34 AM
1 member liked this comment
Picking Kerry as her replacement at Heart of the Hamptons is a continuation of the selfless work Maryann has done and will continue to do for the needy among us.
By KevinLuss (356), SH on Nov 29, 13 10:42 AM
GOD BLESS as you transition in life! Thank you for making this wonderful agency available to ALL in our communities! The huge number of families who have been helped by HRH and the caring staff thank you too! Keep up the great work, and thank you for offering this necessary service, right here, in our neighborhood, for ALL.
By Shinnecock Hills family (59), Southampton on Dec 2, 13 7:22 AM
Wishing Mary Ann a wonderful retirement and a very B-I-G Thank You for all of your hard work for all of these years!
By Robert I Ross (250), Hampton Bays on Dec 3, 13 10:09 PM