Millions of dollars in wine festival grants presented in Naples

Thousands more underprivileged Collier County children are likely to blossom thanks to $8 million awarded to nonprofit organizations at Naples Botanical Gardens on Sunday afternoon.

Naples Children and Education Foundation, founders of the Naples Winter Wine Festival, presented 25 checks to nonprofits, including three grants for long-term strategic initiatives.

The Wine Festival, the nation’s most profitable wine auction, with proceeds going to education and children in Collier County, raised $12 million in late January.

“This is really the fun day for us... giving out the money,” said Anne Welsh McNulty, NCEF’s grant chairwoman, as she began assisting in calling the charitable organizations’ leaders up to the stage to accept their over-sized checks.

The longer term NCEF projects are often collaborations among organizations that fill significant gaps recently identified in children’s services—particularly in the areas of early learning, medical and dental health, out-of-school programs, behavioral health and childhood hunger, NCEF officials said.

The largest check of the day was written to Collier Health Under Guided Systems (HUGS), which is a collaboration of several agencies seeking to pro­vide edu­ca­tion and early iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of men­tal health prob­lems. “The HUGS initiative is particularly close to my heart,” said McNulty before presenting the check for $1.05 million.

The collaboration includes the David Lawrence Center, whose director, Dave Schimmel, expressed his gratitude to the many donors for supporting a not very well-known and stigmatized need for mental health care among youth.

Kathryn Leib-Hunter, executive director of the National Alliance of Mental Illness Collier County chapter, said NCEF gives these children hope.

“Hope is priceless,” Leib-Hunter said.

Another of the projects meeting particular needs for hungry children using a mobile food pantry, Lunch Boxes of Love, received $630,000. The program will also be taking inventory of food storage capacity at 22 Collier organizations identified as distribution outlets focused on children and families. The plan is then to tackle the best way to transport that food.

“The need is as great as ever. There are quite a few more children in Collier County than there were several years ago. Even though we’re doing a lot of good things, there’s still a lot more to do,” said Bob Scott, chairman of the NCEF board.

Research indicated that the child population in the county grew from about 55,000 in 2005 to more than 80,000 in 2010, according to the University of Florida’s Lastinger Center’s Child Well-Being in Collier County 2010 study..

The percentage of children eligible for free or reduced lunch at school rose from 48 percent in 2005 to 58 percent in 2010.

These updated statistics became an important factor in choosing where grants would be allocated and the amounts, said spokeswoman Andrea R. Steffy.

The Boys & Girls Club of Collier County remained the top award recipient among individual organizations, receiving $1 million. The Guadalupe Center of Immokalee, which helps impoverished families in Immokalee, received $732,000 and the Children’s Advocacy Council of Collier County received $460,000.

The Children’s Advocacy Council is first to receive the call when children are the victims of violent crimes, particularly sexual abuse and injuries to their head, face or neck.

The organization meets state requirements as a child protection team working with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Children and Families from the beginning to the end of violent criminal cases. They also help families and communities deal with the atrocity of violent crimes committed amongst their youngest, most defenseless members.

“Not exactly an unfunded mandate, but we’re horribly under-funded, horribly,” said Children’s Advocacy director Jackie Stephens, expressing the need for the grant.

Not all organizations needed contributions in the six or seven digit range.

VisionQuest, which helps treat vision problems in children, received $61,000.

“A boy said ‘I don’t understand why the teacher keeps writing on the chalkboard when no one can see it,’” said VisionQuest’s director Nancy Jeppesen.

“Thank you... You help this boy not only to see the chalkboard, but to see the future.”

© 2011 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 7

SoMuchOlderThen writes:

How much went to the dogs ?

naples_rocket writes:

boy, Collier County is a good place to be poor...
http://www.collierschools.com/AnnualR...

straighttalker writes:

Geez...25 recipients and you name about five. How about a list? I can't believe there wasn't a press release with the announcement.

RichieRich writes:

I think that the sponsors of the wine festival should consider other (not necessarily better) uses for the $8 million. For example; there are many unemployed, plumbers, carpenters, masons and others who could use help supporting their family. Maybe the $8 million could be used to start a non-profit business which would provide long term employment to Collier County residents. Giving money to help children is a worthy cause. Maybe it time to help others in need?

HaroldAMaio writes:

The collaboration includes the David Lawrence Center, whose director, Dave Schimmel, expressed his gratitude to the many donors for supporting a not very well-known and "stigmatized" need for mental health care among youth.

It is always fun to see who PLACES a "stigma" in the Naples News.

Editors have to learn to be more cautious.

Harold A. Maio
khmaio@earthlink.net

SoMuchOlderThen writes:

in response to RichieRich:

I think that the sponsors of the wine festival should consider other (not necessarily better) uses for the $8 million. For example; there are many unemployed, plumbers, carpenters, masons and others who could use help supporting their family. Maybe the $8 million could be used to start a non-profit business which would provide long term employment to Collier County residents. Giving money to help children is a worthy cause. Maybe it time to help others in need?

Help others in need ?

No, we can't have that.

Why, that's socialism !!!!!!!

No, no, no. Give it to the dogs.

scrapiron writes:

And RichieRich,

Let's add to your idea for charities...

Make sure they are true, documented AMERICANS.

There are so many of these charities, like Grace Place, that are giving to non-documented people. NOTE: They don’t even care if their status is legal or not. They will tell you that over the phone.

In this day and age you have an irate America. Americans always giving and the more we give the more illegal’s take.

They don't volunteer their time, in fact at Grace Place in particular, they state the parents whose children are receiving assistance are supposed to volunteer their time in helping of running the daily routines.

Why then is Grace Place advertising for 12 to 15 more in PAID staff. If it has grown that much then make all the parents give back by volunteering their time as you state they do. There is no need for more paid staff.

If they are true Americans, that is exactly what the parents would be doing, willing to give to who gave to them.

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