Since the Naples Children & Education Foundation uncorked the Naples Winter Wine Festival in 2001, the multi-event fundraising weekend, which unites the world’s most famous chefs, vintners, and sommeliers, has raised more than $176 million for underprivileged and at risk children in Collier County.
“I know how effective this festival is for helping young people in the Naples area, which is why we got involved,” says Linda Koehn of Des Moines, Iowa, who, with her husband, Tom, co-chairs the event with Jeannelle and Brian Brady. “Tom is also very interested in wine, and we enjoy making Naples our second home, so once we got involved, it just bubbled up from there.”
Koehn, a former high school English teacher who later worked with students with special needs, says she long has been an advocate for the education and welfare of children. “The foundation has initiatives that run the gamut, from programs to assist with vision, dental, and mental health to early learning, hunger, and more. We get involved because we care about kids.”
The foundation, which received $15.1 million from the festival in 2018, hopes to top that mark with this year’s “Joy to the World” event from January 25-27 at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples.