In Sarasota-Manatee Counties, the weather is stunning, the people are warm, and every day is prettier than the last. So it makes sense that children’s’ charities have been an important part of how we build our community for decades. We want to build a place where everyone can enjoy what our home has to offer, where no child has to go without what they need, and no parent has to struggle to provide for their children. Even though we like to party, we like to party with a purpose.
For the past 30 years, Florida Winefest & Auction has been one of the most talked about events in the area — melding world class chefs, incredible food, and the most fun people together to raise money to donate to local children’s charities. Just how much has the FWA raised? Over $9 Million has been raised and donated since 1991. That’s a sizable investment in our community.
Though COVID-19 put a pause on the event, Florida Winefest & Auction is back for 2022, so we’re looking back at the philanthropic projects some of the past recipients worked on, while we look forward to finding out who this year’s awardees will be.
Past recipients have been among the best and most effective children’s charities in our area. Let’s get to know some of those charities and what they do:
1. Laurel Civic Association
The Laurel Civic Association fulfills an important niche. They build strong foundations for children and families in the Laurel area of Sarasota county.
With their grant from FWA, the Laurel Civic Association underwrote two employees’ salaries.
They make sure that the children in their program have an evening meal and a safe place to do their homework. During summer, this program provides important lunchtime meals to kids who may have received free school lunches when school is in session, but could be facing a summer without much nourishment.
2. The Haven (Formerly Community Haven)
The Haven offers vital services for children and adults with disabilities. Over the years it has grown from a school with four students, to a 25 acre campus in Sarasota that hosts workshops, classes, a preschool, Haven Academy, summer camp, and more. The Haven serves more than 700 people every day.
They received a grant from FWA for their Transitions program, which provides High School/High Tech, a national program which helps students with learning disabilities who are on track to receive their high school diploma complete their courses, and students who are not to complete vocational training.
3. Everyday Blessings
This organization is a licensed Child Caring Agency which cares for children who have been removed from abusive situations while they await permanent placement. They focus on offering room to siblings, since siblings are rarely able to stay together in these cases.
Everyday Blessings put their grant from FWA towards helping kids aged 18-20 who are in the Extended Foster Care Program who might fall into that gap after high school. This program helps kids strengthen their foundation while becoming fully independent.
4. Selah Freedom
Selah Freedom is a nonprofit whose mission is to end sex trafficking. They provide education, housing, job placement, therapy, and outreach.
Their FWA grant went to support their educational Prevention program. This program works to get ahead of sex trafficking by educating kids aged kindergarten through 12th grade with age-appropriate curriculums so that they can recognize dangerous situations before they happen.
5. Just For Girls
Just for Girls provides experiential learning, service learning,
Just for Girls’ mission:
“To provide the framework within which girls can aspire to more successful lifestyles, seek a better education, secure meaningful and financially-equitable employment, and to become responsible and caring members of our society.”
Just For Girls received a grant for their tutoring program, which helps young girls with homework and FCAT preparation, as well as for their literacy program, which uses “discussion, drama, art, movement, laughter, and writing” to help girls have a positive, successful experience learning to read.
6. Volunteer Services of Manatee County
The ManaTEEN club of Volunteer Services of Manatee Country has a unique, holistic approach to helping teens. Their older teen participants in the ManaTEEN club are matched up with younger teens to mentor, and together, they volunteer. This program teaches all participants, mentors and mentees, the value of philanthropy and the spirit of volunteerism. And while they’re at it, these teens work together to volunteer in different areas, so they’re enriching the community as well as themselves, so it’s an all around win!
ManaTEEN club members volunteer in the areas of:
Health and human services
7. The Blessing Bags Project The Blessing Bags Project is a non-profit charity that assists homeless children and their families in the area. They take their name from the bags they provide to help children who have recently become homeless. These bags contain necessities for kids who have lost everything. That’s just the beginning of the work the Blessing Bags Project does, though. They help these children and their families with critical needs, such as warm jackets, diapers, and sleeping bags, as well as host workshops for children and families for long term improvement.
8. Turning Points Turning Points Bradenton has a mission: “To Provide, Coordinate, and Facilitate Services to Prevent and to Reduce Homelessness in Manatee County, Florida” They assist families with basic needs, housing, and medical and dental care. This organization provides services to over 8,000 people in a year! Turning Points used their FWA grant to assist families in obtaining and maintaining housing. In addition to financial assistance, they provide financial literacy education to help families maintain stability in the future. Charities and Individuals Can Get In On the Philanthropic Fun Those were just some of the past recipients from 2019, the last time the Florida Winefest & Auction was held. There are over 80 organizations that have participated and been awarded grants in the past! For the full list of 87 past recipients, visit the link to the Charities tab.
Donate to Get Involved Other than applying as a grant recipient or attending as a guest, you can get involved with the Florida Winefest & Auction by donating or volunteering! You can make a monetary donation or a donation of goods or services for the auction. Individual as well as corporate sponsorships are also welcomed. Whether you get involved in one way, or in a combo, your contribution will help our community for years to come. Please email email@example.com to get involved. Don’t forget, follow FWA on Instagram and Facebook to stay updated on all of the exciting events.