Guest opinion: Help us support underprivileged and at-risk children in Collier County
Since the inaugural Naples Winter Wine Festival in 2001, the Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF) has filled a critical void as the single largest source of funding for essential services for at-risk and underprivileged children in our community.
Over the past 21 years, NCEF has impacted more than 45 of the most effective, disciplined nonprofit organizations in our community, providing more than 275,000 local children with the physical, emotional and educational services and resources they need to excel.
The primary source of funding for these services is the annual Naples Winter Wine Festival. Every dollar raised under the tent of our traditional live auction is invested right back into the community.
Due to COVID-19, this year’s Festival has been re-engineered to prioritize the health and safety of all NCEF donors, patrons and partners and we need your support more than ever to ensure these much-needed services and resources continue to reach the most vulnerable children in Collier County.
The 2020 Naples Winter Wine Festival was a record-breaking event with our largest attendance ever and generating the highest proceeds in our 20-year history. The number of agencies receiving annual grants totaled 33, plus 16 other agencies that help fill critical needs in the community by taking part in NCEF’s seven multi-partner, multi-year strategic initiatives focusing on early learning, healthcare, hunger, mental health, oral health, out-of-school time and vision.
While it may look a little different, the 2021 Naples Winter Wine Festival is moving forward. With the theme “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” this year’s Festival will celebrate the dedicated community of partners who have helped deliver life-changing services to kids in Collier County.
A highlight of this year’s Festival is a special televised event on Saturday, January 30, 2021 at 7 p.m. (EST). Courtesy of WINK-TV, this one-hour broadcast will be an opportunity for NCEF to build awareness of the organization and the systems of care it has created to support local children.
This inspiring broadcast, which will be available for viewing at both WINK-TV and at www.NCEFKids.com, will encourage viewers to make pledges of support both online and via text to help NCEF fill critical voids in children’s social services. Festival guests who tune in will be especially inspired to bid high and often during the invitation-only Virtual Auction that kicks off right after the program.
The popular online auction will once again return for this year, allowing supporters from across Southwest Florida and beyond to bid on 125 incredible food, wine and virtual experiences. These remarkable, one-of-a-kind auction lots include rare wines, virtual wine tastings, over-the-top dinners, virtual concerts, custom art, and luxury sunset cruises, plus the opportunity to buy one of only 16 spots in our first annual NCEF GOLF FORE KIDS PRO-AM.
Those interested in participating in the online auction are invited to go to nwwfonlineauction.com and start bidding on Friday, January 22 at 8 a.m. (EST) until Tuesday, February 2 at 5 p.m. (EST).
With support from this year’s Festival, NCEF will ensure no family is without access to quality child care, after school programs, medical and mental health care, and even basic nutrition.
We encourage the entire community to join us in our mission of improving the lives of underprivileged and at-risk children in Collier County. Your support is more important than ever as we all continue to deal with the economic and physical impacts of the global health crisis.
Maria Jimenez-Lara is the CEO of the Naples Children & Education Foundation.