Raymond Vineyards in St. Helena rolled out the red carpet on June 3 for the Napa Valley Vintners' Barrel Auction, the first in-person gathering of Collective Napa Valley. Guests bidding on 76 lots raised $1.5 million for mental health services for Napa County children.
"We were ecstatic to feel the energy and vibration of our community raised to new heights," said Jean Charles Boisset who, with his wife Gina Gallo, hosted the event.
“The Napa Valley Barrel Auction has always been one of the best events in the wine world, and to see it return with passion and enthusiasm and to reconnect with our guests as we present the best of our region was a thrill," Boisset added.
The Barrel Auction was formerly one component of a weekend of the Napa Valley Vintners' Wine Auction activities taking place the first weekend in June. The COVID-19 shutdown allowed the Vintners the time to re-envision their program that not only showcases the wines of Napa Valley, but raises funds for local nonprofits supporting community issues.
The result of the hiatus is the new Collective Napa Valley, a year-round program of events. Membership in the Collective is open to anyone, on a variety of donor levels.
Members of the new Collective Napa Valley could purchase tickets to the Barrel Auction as well as vintner-hosted dinners throughout the weekend. Fifteen hundred tickets for the Barrel Auction sold out promptly.
"The goal of Collective Napa Valley — to bring more wine lovers to connect deeply with our wines, our vintners and our region — is exciting," Boissset said. "It takes a daring vision to re- invent one of the wine world’s most beloved occasions, and we love that the Napa Valley Vintners has evolved and expanding to events throughout the year — from intimate events, to community engagement and at the end, always, a focus on raising money to improve the lives of the people of Napa Valley."
Guests strolled the grounds of the Grove at Raymond, sampling fare from Napa Valley restaurants, while inside the winery, they could taste from the barrels and make their bids for cases of wines donated by vintners.
The pleasures of the afternoon event, from the smooth live music to welcome moderate June weather, almost belied the serious focus of the fundraising: children's mental health.
“Every dollar raised this weekend will have a meaningful impact on the life of a Napa County child," said Jennifer Stewart, executive director of Napa Valley Education Foundation.
Stewart is the leader of a new collaborative effort of five Napa County agencies that provide mental health services: Mentis, Aldea, UpValley Family Centers and On the Move, in addition to the Education Foundation.
"It's a natural partnership," said Stewart, "just as is the partnership with the Vintners." The result, she said, is called SHINE — Student Health Improvement through Nonprofit Excellence. "We are building a countywide network, a collective model of all agencies aiming toward the same target — that every child gets the help they need."
All of the groups have experienced "skyrocketing" need for services, Stewart said. "Children in this valley have been through years of environmental trauma, earthquakes, wildfires and then the COVID shutdown."
The support coming in from the Barrel Auction will dramatically increase student access to mental health services, Stewart said. "The lion's share will go toward increasing services on campuses. We know that two-thirds (of Napa County children) get services through their schools."
The funds will also support student-led programs on campuses to reduce the stigma of seeking mental health help, and trauma recovery services for parents and providers.
Stewart, who attended the Friday Barrel Auction, recounted one conversation with a vintner. "I didn't get his name," she said, "but he was telling me that he hoped to raise $80,000 with his wine donation. I said, 'do you know that this will pay for one more social worker or therapist? Do you know how many lives you might be saving?' He said he had never thought of it that way, but he was moved to make the connection."
“This fundraising campaign is just the first of more to come," said Linda Reiff, president and CEO of the Napa Valley Vintners. "In different seasons we’ll raise funds for a specific cause."
Bidding was not limited to the guests on hand, as in the past, but was open to a global audience via the auction conducted by Sotheby's. The new format is promising, according to a post-event press release from the Napa Valley Vintners.
"Under the new model, bidders broke records at this year’s barrel auction that raised $1.5 million with average lot and case prices selling higher than ever before," the Vintners wrote. "Of the 75 lots up for auction, the average price per case was $1,873, 9% higher than 2019, with a highest ever average lot price of $18,683."
The breakdown of lots can be viewed at napa.sothebys.com/lots.
“We are humbled to have the support of so many bidders, wineries, businesses and volunteers who all contributed to the success of this fundraising endeavor," Reiff said. "We are thrilled with the results and feel fortunate to be able to contribute to such an important cause."
On Saturday the Vintners celebrated, hosting a community-wide, free-to-the-public party in Yountville with the recipients of the donors' and vintners' generosity.
Up next is the Vintage Celebration and Live Auction, taking place on Nov. 4 and 5, which will raise money for an environmental initiative.
as the Essential Community Partner for Children and Families in Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties
If you had asked Harris Nussbaum in 1972 whether he would still be involved with Aldea in 2022, he’d have laughed at you. “I didn’t think about Aldea being around for 50 years; I only saw the immediate need and wanted to have an impact,” says Harris, reflecting on his role as concerned citizen and one of Aldea's founding board members. In 1973, Harris became Aldea's second Board President to ensure the group’s vision of providing housing and extra support for foster youth in the Napa community.
Shortly after, the Board hired Allen Ewig to serve at Aldea's first Executive Director. “Allen created stability and brought a high level of expertise that was needed. We started expanding. Allen’s vision took it to the next level, to what Aldea is today,” says Harris.
In 2007, Allen became ill. “He expressed concern for Aldea's future,” shares Harris.“ Allen told me that he thought Aldea's Deputy Director Mark Bontrager would continue the vision and essence of Aldea.” Mark served as Executive Director for 14 years. During his tenure one of his top accomplishments includes strategically growing Aldea into the region s largest foster care provider and specialty mental health clinic.
Kerry Ahearn, LCSW was hired as Aldea's Chief Executive Officer in December 2018. Current Board President Sandra Re Sims is excited for this next chapter, “It's clear that Allen s goal for helping children and families in need at Aldea lives on now through CEO Kerry Ahearn and Aldea's staff.”
Kerry Ahearn, a highly experienced, successful, and well-regarded leader, has an extensive track record of success in senior management of social services and behavioral health operations, as well as in health and human services departments of governmental agencies. While managing through a pandemic for the last two years, Kerry has been instrumental in expanding the SOAR program offering early detection of psychosis treatment to Sonoma County. Also, through her leadership, Aldea is expanding substance use disorder services that have only been available in Napa, into Solano County.
“Kerry has committed her entire career in managing community-based, behavioral health, social services and entitlement programs for children, adolescents, families and elders. We are grateful to have someone as experienced and community-focused to lead our organization,” said Aldea Board President, Sandy Re Sims. Sandy was appointed Board President in July 2017, after serving as board member since 2015.
Today, Aldea has grown to provide a multitude of services for the Napa and Solano County communities, including substance abuse prevention and treatment for youth, treatment foster care and adoption, and critical mental health services. “Aldea truly is a village of talented people delivering many services through many programs in the community,” remarks Sandy, “Aldea goes out into the community and meets clients where they are, meaning if you call Aldea, they will connect you with the program you need to get help. It's important to make access easy for everyone.”
“I hope Aldea is able to serve even more people become healthy, to help save more lives,” Sandy shares of her goal for the agency. “I would love to see Aldea continue for 100 years! I am very proud of what we started, and what will happen in the future,” Harris beams. Aldea is the essential community partner for children and families. We believe that in a family’s most critical moments, the company of a trusted professional can mean the difference between strength and suffering. Every day, our expert staff walk with young people on their journey to healing, providing the care that brings both short term comfort and long-term resilience. Because with a community of support, they discover their own ability to create a new life, one moment at a time.
As we make plans for the future of Aldea, we are also reflecting on its past. Over the last 50 years, a group of determined spirits, our talented staff, along with the help of donors, volunteers, supporters, and advocates - like you - have been altering the personal stories of thousands of abused and neglected children, their families. In our programs, hundreds of children a year experience healing.
Aldea translates to “little village” in Spanish. The little village of Aldeas staff, board, donors, volunteers, supporters, and advocates are committed to building a community that works for everyone; where people have their needs met so they can actively participate and contribute to this dynamic place we call home. The community was instrumental in Aldea's development, and the community will be involved in helping Aldea meet its mission for years to come.
Wine Down Media, which owns two Napa Valley radio stations, has received the Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership’s Corporate Community Service award, the nonprofit group stated.
The media company operates KVYN 99.3 FM “The Vine” and KVON 1440 AM/96.9 FM “MegaMix.” Presentation of the award came last week as part of the center’s seventh annual Heart of Napa Awards at Napa Valley Expo.
“Wine Down Media’s focus on volunteerism is to maximize the impact where employees live and play,” the group stated, citing owners Julissa and Will Marcencia for their service to the area.
Also recognized was Rob Weiss of Mentis, a mental health provider, for the Heart of Napa 2021 Excellence in Leadership Award.
“Mentis’ vision is to create a community of enduring strength by equipping children, youth, adults, and seniors with the tools they need to live emotionally healthy and stable lives,” the center stated.
The Excellence in Board Leadership Award was given to Sandy Re Sims, Aldea Children and Family Services.
“Sandy Re Sims’ dedication and commitment to Aldea’s mission contributed to a highly successful and first ever virtual Change-A-Life Gala which raised $135,000 for Aldea services and programs. Sandy has been active in ensuring staff have felt supported during the pandemic; she meets with the CEO weekly and has successfully recruited and mentored board members to ensure Aldea’s continued success.”
The 2021 Heart of Napa Award for Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence was presented to OLE Health.
“OLE Health provides high-quality, comprehensive primary care services to everyone who walks through their doors, regardless of income, insurance, immigration status, or ability to pay,” the group stated.
The presenting sponsor for Heart of Napa was Bank of Marin. The awards were sponsored and presented by Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (Corporate Community Service and Excellence in Board Leadership), Syar Foundation (Volunteer of the Year), Redwood Credit Union (Youth Volunteer of the Year), Comerica Bank (Excellence in Leadership) and Kaiser Permanente (Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence).
Other award winners
Volunteer of the Year: Powell Helems, Napa Valley Community Emergency Response Team Youth Volunteer of the Year:
Ximena Alvarez Parra, president of the Mentis’ Teen Council
Emily Long, American Canyon Parks & Foundation’s Park and Play recreation program Nicholas Dominici, co-founder of the Youth Leadership Academy of Napa
Kyle Hadeler, Boys & Girls Club
Hassan Shafi, vice president for Mentis’ Teen Council