Saturday, 25 May 2024

Wine Alliance distributes $91,500 to local groups

Wine Alliance Board members and Ginny Craven (front, center) at the check presentation on Tuesday in Kelseyville. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

KELSEYVILLE – The Lake County Wine Alliance on Tuesday spread some holiday cheer and handed out some large checks to several local groups who work to make Lake County a better place.

The proceeds from the alliance's ninth annual Lake County Wine Auction – held in September at Buckingham Golf and Country Club – were distributed at a festive pre-Christmas gathering at Marie Beery's Saw Shop Gallery Bistro Tuesday afternoon.

In all, 16 community nonprofits shared $91,500.

“We had an incredible year,” said Wine Alliance Treasurer Rob Roumiguiere.

Since it began in 2000, the Lake County Wine Auction has contributed approximately $713,002 to community organizations, alliance board members reported. The group's charter directs it to foster the arts, benefit health services and support the community while, at the same time, promoting Lake County as a wine-growing region.




Rob Roumiguiere speaks about the Wine Auction effort as fellow Wine Alliance Board members Marie Beery and Wilda Shock look on Tuesday. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


Joining Roumiguiere in making the check presentations were fellow Wine Alliance Board of Directors members including President Margaret Walker-Stimmel, Vice President Marie Beery, Secretary Pamela Shine-Duncan; and directors Judy Luchsinger, Wilda Shock and Janet Thompson. Jim Fetzer, another director, didn't attend.

This year, the Wine Alliance took its signature event in a different direction, adding new facets to it – such as a cooking presentation with noted chef John Ash, Roumiguiere said.

“This event really has become the premier event for Lake County,” he said, adding that about 400 people attended this year.

Recipients were categorized into three major groups – arts, health and community – each of which divided up $30,000. An additional $1,500 went to the Buckingham Junior Golf Program to fund Lake County Junior Golf Council activities.




Brad Onorato, district representative for Congressman Mike Thoompson, with representatives of the Lake County Literacy Coalition. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



In the arts, $5,000 went to Kids 4 Broadway, which provides tuition scholarships for children ages 6 through 14 to participate in theater productions, plus $5,000 each to the fine arts programs at Clear Lake High School, Kelseyville High School, Lower Lake High School, Middletown High School and Upper Lake High School.

Health-related groups included Lake County Special Olympics, $2,500, for sports equipment, uniforms, training supplies and transportation costs; Wiloth Equine Therapy and Riding Center, $2,500, for equine-assisted therapy programs for special needs youth; Adult Day Care/Respite of Clearlake, $12,500, providing a caring, accepting environment for dementia-impaired adults; and Hospice Services of Lake County, $12,500, offering high-quality, end-of-life services to county residents.

Susie Wiloth said her therapy and riding center, located between Lower Lake and Middletown, will use the $2,500 it received to sponsor children who are students of the school. She said the school will provide matching funds to provide more therapeutic riding opportunities for the students.

In the community category, the United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team received $2,500, as did Church Women United. Operation Tango Mike was awarded $5,000, while the Lake Family Resource Center and the Lake County Literacy Coalition each received $10,000.




Rich Feiro and Frank Parker of the United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team and Wine Alliance Board member Wilda Shock. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


The $2,500 that went to the Military Funeral Honors Team will go toward uniforms and team operations, said team member and United Veterans Council President Frank Parker. The funds also will help cover a recent engine overhaul for the group's bus, which carries team members to veterans' funerals and military-related events.

“We operate strictly on donations,” said Parker.

Ginny Craven, founder of Operation Tango Mike – which sends care packages to local troops overseas – said the $5,000 her group received will help ensure several more months of supplies to members of the military.

To send between 80 and 100 packages a month averages about $1,000 in shipping costs each time the packages go out, Craven said, adding that shipping costs will go up after the start of the new year.

Church Women United will use their funds to provide shoes and socks for school-age children in need and the Lake Family Resource Center will operate separate summer camps for young men and women ages 12 through 17. The Literacy Coalition plans to train more tutors to serve adults needing help reading and writing English.




Susie Wiloth (third from left) and Wine Alliance Board members. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



Despite the tough economy, Roumiguiere said this year's distribution was the same as last year's. “It's pretty incredible,” he said.

The auction's administrative costs are covered by ticket sales and sponsors, which allows them to put more of the proceeds back into the local groups that they select as beneficiaries this year.

Roumiguiere hopes to see the event grow even larger next year.

“The bigger we can make this event the more we can give away,” he said.

The Wine Alliance is now taking applications from nonprofits that wish to be considered as recipients of the 2009 Wine Auction proceeds. The deadline for applications is March 1, 2009.

For more information, contact Judy Luchsinger, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 263-3280. The Lake County Wine Alliance may be contacted at 866-279-WINE or by mail at P.O. Box 530, Kelseyville, CA 95451.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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