The Hour: Hometown Love 2

FNX hosts Hometown Love food drive, barbecue

By Kaitlyn Krasselt, Wednesday, May 17, 2017      See the article here at The Hour

NORWALK — Growing up, Kenneth Shuler — better known by his stage name FNX — didn’t always know where his next meal would come from.

Now, despite the fact that he no longer lives in Norwalk, Shuler is hosting the second annual Hometown Love event in conjunction with the Gorge Washington Carver Center and Factory Underground.

“The sad fact is that I grew up in poverty, and from a broken home,” Shuler said. “We didn’t always know where our next meal was coming from. Ever since then I wanted to give back, to help others in need.”

Shuler’s goal for the event — which includes a 10-team basketball tournament and barbecue cookout — is to collect more than 1,000 nonperishable or canned food items to be distributed to families by the Norwalk-based food pantry Person-to-Person, as well as raise at least $10,000 for Carver summer camp scholarships.

The entrance fee for the event, which takes place from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Carver Center on Academy Street in Norwalk, is two non-perishible items per person. Financial donations can be made directly to the Carver Center or to the GoFundMe page Shuler set up to fund the event as well as collect money for scholarships.

Shuler first launched Hometown Love, named after a song on his debut album, in June 2016, with the goal create a fun, interactive community-pride event, and to feed as many people as possible with a canned-food drive. He also wanted to partner with the Carver Center as he attributes much of his success to the center’s guidance during his formative years in Norwalk.

“It’s all about the children,” Shuler said. “I believe that to support the Carver is to invest in the future of Norwalk and this the least that I can do for my hometown.”

Shuler is returning to Norwalk to host the event after a tour in Canada where he was able to perform his music alongside similar artists, and several speaking engagements at area schools where Shuler was invited to share his story.

Though he’s never been shy about sharing it, Shuler said he’s been shocked and humbled by the number of people who claim they were inspired by his story and subsequent success.

“I never thought I’d be talking to kids about my life,” Shuler said. “I’m still taken back by the appreciation. I think about growing up and those instances that someone impacted me and they probably didn’t even know it. That means a lot to the youth, and to think maybe I’ve done that ... it’s just crazy. I never thought I could do that.”

Hometown Love is sponsored by FNX Music, the Carver Foundation, Factory Underground, Darien Rowayton Bank, Willis-Towers Watson Insurance, AIM for a Better Tomorrow, Phi Beta Sigma, Norwalk 2.0, local author Kamichi Jackson and the Greater Norwalk Arts Council.

Marc Alan, marketing director for Factory Underground, has helped Shuler since the beginning to support and market Hometown Love — both the album and the event — and said the success of the event is not only important for FNX and the Carver Center, but for the arts community of central Norwalk.

“Being involved in the Norwalk community overall is really important to Factory Underground, but especially the downtown Arts District which we are proud to call home, for us and all the local business here,” Alan said.

kkrasselt@scni.com; 203-354-1021; @kaitlynkrasselt

Jim Schaffer