A toast with the most: DCWAF awards $3.775 million to 16 charities

Record-breaking year assists Northwest Florida children

By Michelle Farnham
Sept. 1, 2022

DESTIN – It was a night of joyous applause, gasps of surprise and a few tears of appreciation as the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation awarded a record-breaking total of $3.775 million to 16 charities Aug. 31.

In operation since 2006, DCWAF has presented more than $28 million to Northwest Florida children’s organizations and this was the 10th and final check presentation for retiring foundation President John Russell.

“I remember when I took over as chairman at my first check presentation event, I hoped that someday we would get to a million dollars,” Russell recalled after accepting a bottle of wine from each board member as a parting gift. “Thank you very much.”

New foundation President Karah Fridley-Young applauded everyone in attendance for their time, talents and donations.

“This year’s record-breaking contribution is truly a testament to the philanthropic spirit of the DCWAF community,” Fridley-Young said. “These funds will have a profound impact on the lives of thousands of children, and we are grateful for the opportunity to support our charity partners, all of whom are doing important work within our community.”

When it came time to start handing out checks, each of the 16 organizations was given its time in the spotlight, as well as a chance to say thank you.

Shervin Rassa, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of the Emerald Coast, impressed upon the audience the exponential impact of their efforts.

“In the state of Florida, a study last year predicted that every dollar invested in Boys & Girls Clubs has an $8 positive multiplier effect in our community, so this $200,000 actually has $1.6 million of positive impact,” Rassa said.

Special recognition went to DCWAF Volunteer of the Year Anna Kathryn Bonner; Carter Award for Outstanding Service awardees Jeanne Dailey, Tiffany Edwards and Lane Redding; and outgoing Board Chairman Robért Hinojosa.

Money is raised through the foundation’s two main events, Destin Charity Wine Auction Weekend, held each April, and October’s Harvest Wine & Food Festival, as well as over $500,000 in sponsorship revenue.

Local philanthropist Ryan Jumonville of the Jumonville Family Children’s Fund, wanted to see the total funds raised hit the $4 million mark, cutting a check for an additional $200,000.

Stacey Brady, executive director of the South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival, was also on hand to present a $40,000 check to the foundation, representing proceeds of the annual April fête.

The upcoming Harvest Wine & Food Festival runs Oct. 13 to 16, 2022, and the 18th annual Destin Charity Wine Auction Weekend is scheduled for April 28 and 29, 2023.

2022 funding recipients

AMIkids Emerald Coast: $145,000 to fund a GED program for at-risk students between the ages of 16 and 24

Ascension Sacred Heart Emerald Coast: $200,000 to fund a new CT scanner

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast: $200,000, program funding for 250 kids

Children in Crisis: $200,000 to fund on-site housing

Children’s Volunteer Health Network: $200,000 to fund the Mobile Dental Clinic and Healthcare Referral Network

Ellison McCraney Ingram Foundation: $140,000 to fund scholarships for teens

Emerald Coast Autism Center: $250,000 to support the capital campaign for a new teens building

Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center: $325,000 to support the mental health therapy program

Food for Thought Outreach: $200,000 to fund the Backpack and In-School Snack Programs and Holiday Services

Habitat for Humanity of Walton County: $250,000 to fund one new Walton County home and the infrastructure of Hope Village

Mental Health Association of Okaloosa and Walton Counties: $150,000 to fund the Brain Health Program

Opportunity Place, Inc.: $165,000 to fund immediate housing for homeless children and their families

Shelter House of Northwest Florida: $175,000 to fund mental health play therapy, counseling, and advocacy for youth

The Arc of the Emerald Coast: $200,000 to fund the renovation of their facility warehouse into an after-school program center

Westonwood Ranch: $275,000 for scholarships, micro business program funding and cottage expansion project

Youth Village: $200,000 to fund program operations and renovation of two outdoor play areas.

2022 funding recipients