This article was written by Jennifer Reed and originally published on January 20th, 2015 at GulfshoreLife.com.
“I will not let poverty define me.”
It’s a promise Immokalee High School senior Regine François made to herself some years ago, and one that she reiterated to a crowd of community leaders and philanthropists last week at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples for the Guadalupe Center’s signature fundraiser, “Fire & Ice: Igniting the Flame of Learning.”
François is one of the 1,100 students enrolled in the Immokalee-based center’s educational enrichment programs. She belongs to the Tutor Corps program, which supports teens in their quests to go to college or post-secondary training.
College is hard to fathom when you go to bed hungry. François remembered once splitting a bag of potato chips with her five siblings. Dinner.
“While my friends happily played tag during recess, I constantly worried about whether or not my family would be going to sleep hungry again. These are not the concerns a 10-year-old should have, yet there I was on a regular basis, going to bed on an empty stomach. It was at that point I made a promise to myself. This was not going to be my life. I would make something of myself and help my family out of the cycle of poverty they seemed destined to remain a part of. I would make it,” she said.
She will graduate with a 5.3 grade point average and 60 college credit hours under her belt, earned through a dual enrollment program at Florida Gulf Coast University.
The Immokalee Foundation’s annual Charity Classic Celebration on Nov. 14 raised more than .9 million, a record for fundraising events in the organization’s 23-year history, according to Joseph Zednik, TIF’s chairman of the board and event chair for the gala.
Nearly 350 guests gathered at The Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort along with 80 students representing TIF’s educational programs. With the theme “Hope Grows,” the event put the spotlight on TIF students who have gone on to rewarding careers. Those sharing their stories at Friday’s event included Jesus Abarca, a Florida State University graduate who now works in the management training program at Lipman in Manteca, Calif., and Brittany Gonzalez, who realized her dream of working in radio after graduating from Florida Gulf Coast University.
The biggest draw of the night was the Fund A Dream live bidding experience. Donors raised their paddles to make matching contributions from ,000 to 0,000 in support of programs in four categories: Immokalee Readers: Reading Readiness; Leadership Experiences & Life Skills: Tools to Succeed; Tutoring & Advocacy: Avenue of Achievement; and Scholarships/Post-Secondary Success.
Also contributing to the Charity Classic’s success was the annual Pro-Am golf tournament that took place Nov. 17 at The Old Collier Golf Club. At press time, projections were that the tournament would raise more than 5,000 — another fundraising record.
For more information about The Immokalee Foundation, including how to volunteer as a mentor, call 430-9122 or visit immokaleefoundation.o
The theme, “The Future: Bold and Brilliant,” could not have been more appropriate for this year’s President’s Celebration gala, held Feb. 1 at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples.
With more than 400 supporters in attendance, the university’s signature event celebrated more than million in contributions for scholarships and academic excellence during a festive evening in a ballroom filled with vibrant hues, lively music and bountiful giving.
The outpouring of generosity included a million pledge by David and Linda Lucas that will establish The Lucas Center for Faculty Development at Florida Gulf Coast University.
FGCU President Wilson G. Bradshaw thanked the guests for their attendance and support, saying, “Together, we can make FGCU an even more valuable institution for our students and the community as a whole. As you enjoy this festive affair, please remember that this gala has a higher purpose – to enable FGCU to expand programs that will ensure student success, advance research and programs that benefit society and enrich our region’s cultural resources.”
A highlight of the evening was a surprise performance by a flash mob made up of members of the FGCU Cheerleading Squad and the Dancing E’Gals, who thanked the evening’s sponsors with an energetic musical number. Scott Robertson of Scott Robertson Fundraising Auctioneers conducted the live auction.
As FGCU Foundation Board President Charles Winton said, funds raised at the President’s Celebration provide vital funding and resources, giving students a “ticket to the game” to which they might otherwise not have access. Winton and his business partner, Pat Denson, own Estero Bay Chevrolet, which served as the event’s grand sponsor.
This article was originally posted on September 3, 2014 at SonomaSun.com. Photos by Melania Mahoney.
Once a humble Valley-centric affair, the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction has gone big time as one of the top charity auctions in the country, raising $4 million August 31 at Chateau St. Jean. The total more than doubled last year’s then-record of $1.5 million.
“We made history in Sonoma County today,” said Maureen Cottingham, director of the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance, which co-produces the bash.
Inspired by the theme “From Sonoma to Serengeti to Sonoma” – Envolve Winery’s Danny Faye came dressed as a giraffe – some 700 guests from across the country gathered with vintners and growers under a grand white tent.
The event began with a tribute to the late David Reynolds, the auctioneer who had presided over the event for many years as it evolved from a wacky harvest party into a sophisticated, corporate-branded affair. Colleen Buckley, his widow, thanked the crowd and urged high bidding. In the spirit of Reynolds’ auction mantra, “No spousal restraint,” Buckely coaxed a bid of $25,000 for a sommelier to pour for the winner’s table throughout the afternoon.
Scott Robertson handled the gavel this year. The honorary chairs of the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, of which the auction is now a part, were Gloria and Pedro Ferrer.
Scott Robertson, CAI, BAS of Scott Robertson Event Fundraising Consultants/Auctioneers has been selected again to be the Fundraising Auctioneer for the St. Petersburg Catholic High School Baron “Gala” 2014 Winter Wonderland.
This event will be held on October 11th at the SPCHS Campus in the St. John Bosco Center for the Arts in St. Petersburg, FL. Please come dressed in your best cocktail attire and join us for a “Winter Wonderland” where the lights are twinkling and the snow is glistening and the Ocean Road Band is playing softly in the background.
All this fun while benefiting the students of St. Petersburg Catholic High School.
Robertson is considered one of the premier professional benefit auctioneers working in the United States today. In the past 20 years, Robertson has conducted hundreds of benefit auctions throughout Florida and the Southeastern United States and annually raises millions
This news article was originally written by Tim Fish and published on 9/2/14 on WineSpectator.com.
It was plenty hot at the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction on Aug. 31, and it wasn’t just the temperature. Vintners raised a record $4 million, more than double the $1.5 million haul of last year. By the end of the three-day Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, a total of $5 million had been raised for local charities.
“This is a very big deal for Sonoma County,” said winemaker Dan Goldfield, president of the Sonoma County Vintners Foundation.
The fun started a day earlier on Aug. 30 at Taste of Sonoma. A crowd of 2,500 mingled on the grounds of MacMurray Ranch outside Healdsburg, taking in wine seminars and cooking demonstrations. More than 200 different wines were poured and dozens of area chefs served finger foods.
The next day, more than 700 people gathered for the live auction on the lawn at Chateau St. Jean in Kenwood, where the 90-degree-plus heat seemed apropos to the African safari theme. Auctioneer Scott Robertson maintained a lively pace as attendees kept cool with plenty of chilled wines. (Wine Spectator was one of several sponsors of the auction.)
This article was originally published on September 2, 2014 at SonomaWine.com.
Sonoma County, CA, September 2, 2014 — With a mood under the tent that combined intense excitement with a generous community spirit, over $4 Million was raised at the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction at Chateau St. Jean sponsored by TricorBraun WinePak, on Sunday, August 31. The total more than doubled the record-breaking 2013 total of almost $1.5 Million. Over 700 guests from across the country gathered with vintners and growers to raise record-breaking funds for a multitude of Sonoma County charities. Auctioneer Scott Robertson urged bidders to bid high for the extraordinary lots, ranging from highly-sought wines to priceless experiences. Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, which includes the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction, is presented by Visa Signature®.
Vintner leaders from across Sonoma County played a key role in both contributing and inspiring others to bid generously, including Joe Anderson of Benovia Winery, Barbara Banke, Matt Gallo, the Zanin Family of Bennett Valley Cellars, the Hamel Family and the Klein Family of Rodney Strong Vineyards. When the total of the day was announced as being almost $4 Million, Joe Anderson made an additional pledge and challenged others to dig a little deeper to hit the $4 Million mark. The last pledge came from Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance Board Member Gary Buffo, and the goal was achieved.
The presence of bidders and supporters from outside Sonoma County also played a key role in this year’s Auction success. Some of the day’s top bidders came from Arizona, New Mexico, Florida and Oklahoma to share their passion for Sonoma County’s wines and charities. In addition, Joe Anderson invited the leadership of the Southwest Florida Wine Auction from Fort Myers, Florida to support the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction. Southwest Florida Auction board members purchased several lots throughout the afternoon and generously supported Fund the Future.
This article was originally written by Peg Melnik and published on September 1, 2014 at PressDemocrat.com.
An African dance troupe, with Djembe and Dunum drums beating, created a colorful backdrop for a record-breaking afternoon of bidding at Sunday’s Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction. Spiraling bids climbed to million, nearly tripling last year’s take of $1.5 million.
About 700 people gathered under the magnolia trees at Kenwood’s Chateau St. Jean, stepping into a safari of sorts. There were plenty of props to bring home the theme “From Sonoma to Serengeti” — safari hats, worn trunks and even a vintner in a giraffe costume.
Danny Fay, co-owner of Sonoma’s Envolve Winery, said: “I was imported this morning to help raise paddles for the children of Sonoma.”
Fay apparently had a powerful effect. Fundraising under the white tent seemed to gain momentum throughout the afternoon with several record-breaking bids.
The most suspenseful lot was the Fund-the-Future offering, where a group of bidders pooled their efforts to raise $1.6 million to raise literacy rates. The total dwarfs last year’s special needs lot at $735,000.
The big spenders, each contributing $100,000 or more, included the Sonoma County vintners of Jackson Family Wines, the Gallo family, Tom Klein of Rodney Strong Vineyards, Joe Anderson of Benovia, Corey Beck of Francis Ford Coppola Winery, and George Hamel III of Hamel Family Wines.
Katie Jackson said, “We’re donating $100,000 to literacy because 54 percent of third-graders in Sonoma County are below their grade level, so they’re falling behind. Literacy is so important to the future of Sonoma County.”
The outpouring of six-digit individual contributions to the Fund-the-Future offering was also record-breaking, with last year’s highest individual bid at $75,000.
The Immokalee Foundation has named event chairs for the 2014 Charity Classic Celebration dinner and auction, Charity Classic Pro-Am golf tournament and the Inter-Club Challenge.
Joseph Zednik, the incoming chair of The Immokalee Foundation Board of Directors, will chair the organization’s Charity Classic Celebration Nov. 14, at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples. The event is the group’s largest fundraiser of the year, bringing in .6 million in 2013 to support the foundation’s educational programs.
Professional Fundraising Auctioneer Scott Robertson, will be returning for the fifth time at this great event.
For the fourth year, foundation board member Kevin Johnson, with Morgan StanleyPrivate Wealth Management, will chair the Charity Classic Pro-Am golf tournament, taking place Nov. 17, at The Old Collier Golf Club in Naples. Michael Benson, chairman and CEO of Insurance Management Consultants LLC, and Chuck Campbellco-chaired the 2014 Inter-Club Challenge at The Old Collier Golf Club in Naples.
The Immokalee Foundation has a range of programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary training, mentoring and tutoring, and opportunities for broadening experiences, life skills development and economic independence.