April 20, 2014

Scene & Heard

PITCHING IN

Can you top this? 
A charity event that tripled its take over last year? With more than 400 in attendance at the Miromar Lakes Beach and Golf Club on the last weekend in February, the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest raised $750,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. And check out these highlights:

• Dave and Cheryl Copham, trustees of the Naples Winter Wine Festival, imported a number of their fellow trustees. That power table bought up numerous auction lots.

• An anonymous bidder handed auctioneer Scott Robertson a scrap of paper on which he had written “$45,000” during the Fund-a-Need portion of the auction. That amount, coincidentally, was exactly the cost of a special incubator for a premature baby. The crowd pitched in with enough money to buy three more.

• Keegan Gerhard from the Food Network teamed up with Norman Love for a surprise auction item—a six-course, dessert-and-wine package featuring the two pastry chefs’ most creative concoctions.

With voice-over artist Randy Thomas charming the crowd, 11 wineries represented and 15 local chefs participating, this event certainly lit up our winter social scene. That food and wine will do it every time. But what we’ll remember most is the generosity in tough times.

 

HELPING THE KIDS

Speaking of generosity, the Naples Winter Wine Festival, which raised $5 million at its event in early February, has already started handing out checks to local children’s charities. Big congratulations go to the Guadalupe Center of Immokalee. The Naples Children and Education Foundation awarded its Early Childhood Education Center a whopping $1.1 million to open up new classrooms and provide scholarships to tutors. Smart thinking to break the cycle of poverty with education.

 

THRICE BLESSED

Yes, 90 is beautiful, and The PACE Center for Girls honored three such lovelies at its Grand Dames Tea March 10 at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre. More than 400 community members turned out to honor Barbara B. Mann, Berne Davis and Eleanore Kleist for their contributions to Southwest Florida. We should all look so good and achieve so much for so long.

 

GETTING MARRIED

Wedding bells and car horns? Sandy Stilwell, business owner and philanthropist, and Harry Silverglide, a self-proclaimed car buff, are planning a fall wedding. It seems that Harry proposed at the Collier Museum in Naples right in front of her favorite car, a silver MG that happens to be Barron Collier’s personal car. Lovebirds, start your engines. And congratulations, you two. What an impact couple you are.

 

HOT TICKET

Kudos to mother-daughter co-chairs Penny Love and Courtney Ott for their Mending Broken Hearts with Hope luncheon at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples Beach Resort. How hot a ticket is this event for the Shelter for Abused Women and Children? Not only did it sell out, but my table host Martha Fligg, a big Shelter supporter, has already filled her table for next year! Jacquelyn Pierce, who lives part-time on Marco Island, was the keynote speaker and is a leader nationwide in the fight against domestic violence. Kudos, too, to Chico’s, the founding signature sponsor of the event. Chico’s has given tens of millions back to this community where they were founded, and we thank them for their loyal support, even in the most difficult of times.

 

FEEL-GOOD EVENING

Magical it was. jenny and Kermit Sutton opened their property, Wrenwood Farms, for a glowing night under the tent for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s Magic Under the Mangroves event. It was a near-perfect night in March, and the grove was transformed into an elegant eco-friendly paradise.

The live auction alone raised nearly $200,000, thanks to the generous donors and the lure of exotic trips all over the world. Board chairman Dolph Von Arx not only drove the bids up himself on several lots but also presented the 2009 Eagle Award to Lavern Gaynor, a former Conservancy board member and current honorary chair. Her dedication to preserving the history of Naples and its natural resources is legendary.

Naples Mayor Bill Barnett, as auctioneer, brought a charm and spirit that made for a feel-good evening. In all the years he and I have been raising money for local charities, this is the first time we have done an event together. I salute you, Mr. Mayor, and hope we can join forces again like this sometime in the very near future.

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