Naples Winter Wine Festival organizers focusing on healthcare and mental health – Naples Daily News

It’s been a tough couple of years for children and their wellbeing needs to be a priority, according to the Naples Children & Education Foundation.
The nonprofit organization that sponsors the annual Naples Winter Wine Festival fundraiser will focus greater attention this year on children’s access to health care, mental health, oral and vision health through its “fund a need” cause.  
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In a separate move that validates NCEF’s commitment to the community, the organization announced this week it has allocated $1 million to several of its collaborative nonprofit partners that were hardest hit by Hurricane Ian Sept. 28 while facing growing demand for services.
The $1 million allocated for hurricane relief is money previously raised.
Ian continues to disrupt services that nonprofits provide to children and families who also are dealing with the storm’s impact to their lives, according to Valerie Boyd, NCEF board chairwoman.
 “This emergency allocation provides a range of essential services, primarily mental health care, meals and some critical structural repairs,” Boyd said in a news release.
 “The board’s desire was to strengthen and focus on our regional nonprofit partners which have operations in the areas that were the most impacted by the storm,” she said.
Three of NCEF’s partners in its ongoing mental health initiative, the David Lawrence Centers, Golisano Children’s Hospital and Healthcare Network received emergency allocations.
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In addition, the NCH Healthcare System, St. Matthew’s House, Youth Haven and the Harry Chapin Food Bank received support.
The “fund a need” program is a separate call to action auction lot at the wine festival where attendees can pledge any amount and the proceeds go to one of the organization’s strategic initiatives. A special emphasis will be on mental health.
This year’s wine festival is set for Feb. 3-5 at The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Tiburón.  Since its launch 23 years ago, the festival has raised nearly $244 million for local children’s causes.  It is among the most successful charity wine auctions internationally.
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Since its founding, NCEF has impacted more than 50 of the most effective nonprofits in the community through its annual grants and strategic initiatives. More than 300,000 children have received services they needed and have been provided resources to excel.
Children locally have faced stress levels not seen before, starting with the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020 that impacted their daily school life and after-school programs for months, according to NCEF.
Ian brought new stress and trauma for thousands of families that have been displaced or struggling with damaged homes.
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The goal with this year’s fund a need is to ensure access to primary care, provide for early detection and treatment of disease, and to address behavioral health issues among local children, Maria Jimenez-Lara, chief executive officer of NCEF, said.
“This increased access will provide such critical services as developmental screenings, mental health assessments, comprehensive dental exams, complete health screenings, eyeglasses and oral health education,” she said.
Support for the fund a need lot, named “Healthy Mind, Body & Soul,” is not limited to just festival guests. Anyone in the community can support it by contacting NCEF office at 239-514-2239.


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