An Excellent Pairing
Words by Ashley Hurst
Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation (DCWAF) was born from a wine-centric community of professionals who had moved to the Destin, Florida area at the end of their careers. After seeing the success of wine auctions in Naples and in Napa, California, they decided to use their own wine dinners to make a difference in their community and held their first auction in 2006. They raised $80,000 to help fund local charities. The following year, they raised $400,000 and have continued to grow. This growth allows them to assist additional charities.
Composed of a board of directors, trustees, and four staff members, DCWAF currently supports 16 charities. While a few of those are local branches of national charities such as Habitat for Humanity and Boys & Girls Clubs of America, most of the charities are local, grass roots groups, many of which DCWAF jump-started.
DCWAF doesn’t just give these charities money, however. It also relieves the burden of planning and marketing fundraisers so that the individual charity can focus its energy on helping those in need. And to benefit from the auction, the charities have to be an active part of the auction, donating items and providing volunteers. Habitat for Humanity provides wood for the construction of the temporary auction venue, and at the end of the auction the wood is transported to construction sites to be turned into housing. “Our funding for these organizations frees them up to focus on their mission of helping children,” says John Russell, DCWAF president.. “While they still do generate significant funding on their own, our partnership with them allows them to put their resources where it will do the most good.”
Synergy and a level of fellowship develops between DCWAF and the charities, as well as between the charities. John explains, “We have made a conscious effort to unite 16 nonprofits, all tasked with helping children, to find a connection with each other. The result might be the textbook definition of synergy. Together we are more powerful and can do much more to help children.” By working with DCWAF, the charities are also encouraged to communicate and coordinate with other DCWAF-funded charities. The Boys & Girls Clubs help Food for Thought Outreach pack backpacks. Food for Thought has worked with another charity, AMIkids, to encourage parental attendance for conferences for troubled youth by providing Thanksgiving dinner for families who attended a parent/teacher conference. And the groups frequently contact each other when they are looking for new employees or have items to pass along, such as computers that are being replaced.
The stories of students DCWAF has helped are heart-warming, but this isn’t a venture without challenge. Many of its partner charities have sister organizations in Panama City Beach, Florida, and after Hurricane Michael devastated the city, many of those organizations closed, and their clients relocated to the Destin area. Now these charities have even more people in need of support.
Each year, DCWAF faces the challenge of increasing fundraising so it can provide more support to its current charities and add more charities to the list. DCWAF holds two annual fundraisers—the wine auction hosted in Miramar Beach in the spring and the Harvest Wine & Food Festival hosted in WaterColor in the fall. The 2019 auction had a lofty goal of $3 million. At the close of the auction, $2.6 million had been raised to help fund the charities. While thrilled by all the help it could provide with that, DCWAF members were disappointed to have fallen short of the goal. However, a week later a phone call came from local philanthropist Ryan D. “Jume” Jumonville, who would donate a record-breaking one million dollars. “This amazing gift from Mr. Jumonville means that many more children will receive the support they need at a critical point in their life. A child is a child for a relatively short period of time, so we have an enormous sense of urgency in everything we do. This gift will mean the world to so many children,” says John.
Good Grit is partnering with DCWAF this fall as a sponsor of the Harvest Wine & Food Festival, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for this amazing charity.