It’s been a tough week for every industry, as more and more businesses are closing their doors and telling employees to begin working from home. Companies like The 1 Wine, a wine company based in New York that was started by an immigrant named Gary Kong who wanted to live out the American Dream, are focused on helping their community.

Since launching the company, The 1 Wines has focused much of its entrepreneurial efforts toward uplifting other members of the community. In a time when Americans are being pushed far beyond their usual comfort zone with the coronavirus pandemic, The 1 Wines aims to provide as much philanthropy as it can.

Grit Daily: You had your own ventures before The1Wine. Share those.

Billie Mitchell: Gary Kong who is the president of The 1 Wine and Classic New York Beer. Sir Gary Sze Kong, J.D. is a self-made real estate mogul and philanthropist who has dedicated his life to creating a better future for various individuals and organizations around the globe. He was born in Fujian, China and attended school in Hong Kong until the age of 16, when he immigrated to Guatemala on a visa with the hope of reaching America. 

Sir Gary Kong was on his own in Guatemala and his path to the United States was laden with roadblocks. Faced with the choice of going back to his life of poverty in China or a dangerous trek to the United States, Sir Gary Kong made the decision to swim through hazardous waters to get to Mexico. Once in Mexico, he found passage to America and took a job as a dishwasher. He was homeless, alone and still poor but he knew that through hard work and purposeful devotion he could turn his life around in America. He immersed himself in his new environment, learning the language and diligently saving every penny he could until, at age 18, he purchased his first property. He enrolled in the New York University Stern School of Business, earning a Bachelor of Laws, Master of Laws, and ultimately a Juris Doctor from the Law School of Southwest International University. Today Sir Gary Kong, has been chosen from the world heritage government official agency in China to be the consultant from the USA. This is a very prestigious title only Sir Gary Kong holds this title.

Sir Gary Sze Kong is the embodiment of the phrase, “living the American Dream”. He is an American citizen and businessmen who has dedicated his life to giving back to others. He employs hundreds of people through his many businesses and donates much of his wealth to help those in need. He has an affinity for helping oppressed women obtain equal rights and works closely with the First Lady of Mongolia through the Vajra Dharma King Peace foundation. Throughout his life, Sir Gary Sze Kong has never forgotten where he came from and continues to be appreciative of the opportunity his adopted country – America – has given him.

GD: Philanthropy looks to be a cornerstone to The1Wine’s ethos. Why?

BM: Philanthropy is very important to our company. We understand the concept of giving back and working with a mindset of a win-win situation. Helping others in need is who we are, especially that Gary Kong was an immigrant who came here with nothing and wanted to accomplish the American Dream. In order to do that you need people who supports you and gives you a chance, and that is where we come in.  Our company President Gary Kong and CEO Billie Mitchell has a foundation called the Global Hero Foundation were we help ordinary people do extraordinary things with monetary compensation so they can keep doing what they are doing in this world.

GD: When the 2019 Conoravirus outbreak news began, what was your initial reaction?

BM: Our first initial reaction was, “How can we help”

GD: How are you helping those affected and in need?

BM: Gary Kong has collected more than 26,808 pounds (40 pallets) of medical supplies through his Global Hero Foundation. Supplies such as: medical masks, medical scrubs, thermometers and anti-bacterial gel were delivered to JFK Cargo by Cathway Pacific Cargo – arranged by Chapman Freeborn. They were then loaded onto a Boeing 747 plane which took off from JFK airport on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 at 9:10 pm and will land in Hong Kong, China after noon today – March 4, 2020.

Gary Kong has also arranged for 5,000 masks to be donated to a nonprofit organization here in New York, to  help organize and disburse out to local hospitals, who is in need of the N95 medical masks due to the shortage of these medical supplies here in the United States.

GD: As speakers at Zero Waste Summit Times Square, how does your philanthropic effort relate back to sustainability?

BM: Even though our philanthropic efforts [at The 1 Wine] do not directly relate to the sustainability of natural resources, it indirectly does. For us, it’s about preserving life. This includes the lives of the people who are working so hard to save our planet.