Charity News from the Naples Area

The Naples Players…Discover Culture in Collier

Discover Culture in Collier, a 7-month outdoor entertainment season presented by The Naples Players (TNP), is the latest development in an effort to continue safely providing arts and culture programming while coronavirus concerns still linger.

The season will feature live music, theatre, art and other monthly events utilizing a number of Collier County parks and outdoor attractions as the backdrop, the first of which are Drive-In Movies in downtown Naples starting in September.

TNP Drive-In Movie Nights will feature two movies each month projected onto a 33-foot screen using a state-of-the-art projection system. The events, sponsored by The Inn on 5th, are hosted in the newly refinished 50-car lot located at 300 8th Street South, just one block north of the iconic 5th Avenue South home of The Naples Players community theatre. The movie soundtracks will be broadcast over short-range FM radio to the cars in attendance.

The series begins with a 2-night screening of the musical movie Grease, on September 8th and 9th, followed by Jurassic Park on September 22nd and 23rd.  Movies begin promptly at 8 p.m. Concessions and non-alcoholic refreshments are available for purchase.  Due to space, ticketing is required in advance.  A full schedule and tickets are available online at:

General admission is $45 per vehicle; but Current TNP season ticket holders receive free admission on select “Season Ticket Holder Nights.”  Additionally, current members of The Naples Players or Season Ticket Holders who want to attend the other movie evenings can purchase tickets for $20.

Additional outdoor entertainment events as part of the Discover Culture in Collier series are slated for announcement in early September. Information about the full season of events will be found at:

“This shift in our season will not replace the revenue lost, nor will these experiences replace the joys of live theatre. But it’s most important to us to keep the arts, and our community’s spirits, alive by providing opportunities for people to safely experience culture together,” said TNP Executive Artistic Director, Bryce Alexander.

The Naples Players temporarily closed their doors on March 12th in response to COVID-19.  Since then, the non-profit theatre had endured losses of more than $1.25m in lost revenue, ticket refunds, and season ticket sales. Even so, TNP has maintained its full staff and has been working to provide critical arts education and community building throughout this difficult time.

For more information visit or call the box office at (239) 263-7990.


The Naples Players is a non-profit community theatre committed to the enrichment, education, and entertainment of our community through a superior theatre experience. For more than 67 years, the theatre has served as the cultural jewel of Downtown Naples,  Florida.

For sponsorship opportunities contact Executive Director Bryce Alexander –  239-434-7340 Ex 124






When Myra Janco Daniels read about all the cuts to arts programs in our schools, she wanted to make sure that the arts were supported in the Latchkey Children’s curriculum. Upon opening the Fran Cohen Youth Center on The Salvation Army campus, she participated in developing their programs to include dance, music, art, theater, pottery, culinary pursuits and communication  classes.

The Center has a large music room which houses three pianos, ten keyboards and private lessons are given on these instruments along with bass and guitar by our volunteers. They have a choir and drama classes. They have performed for their parents and volunteers at various events.

In the Child Development Center, the children are encouraged to participate in  Kindermusik, which is a wonderful program to help learn new skills and discover new ways to explore and develop their own creativity. The Center has its own pottery wheel and kiln and the students are taught by Joan Eshkenazi, a well-known potter and artist.

Latchkey League volunteers work closely with the children to create pottery. They are very proud of their pieces and displayed them at our Latchkey League meetings. A full commercial kitchen is available and classes in culinary cuisine are taught by Miss
Beth. They learn food preparation and the components of healthy diets. Added to these opportunities is a dance studio, art room and a computer lab for homework and creativity.

Tutors are also available for school assignment help. In the main room is The Book Nook, a very popular spot with the children. Children explore the wonders of reading, can borrow books and volunteers are on hand to help with their selections and/or read to them. Many of the books have been donated by individuals and by Books for Collier Kids.

Another very important component of the program is recreation. The Salvation Army has built a large playground on their campus for this purpose. The fence around the play area is to be decorated with acrylic butterflies in different sizes and colors. Latchkey Members and their friends have been given the opportunity to purchase one with their name or name of a loved one imprinted on them.

The largest butterfly is 15” x 10” and is $500; middle size is 15” x 8” and is $250. The smallest butterfly is 11” x 18” and is $100. If you are interested in supporting this project, please call Judy Tedder, President of the Latchkey League, at 239-254-0843.

Your support of these Latchkey Children is important to their futures and to ours because today’s children are our future.

Telling the Stories of Upstanders

     Education is the core of our work at the Holocaust Museum & Cohen Education Center.                                                                 

So what are we teaching, you may ask? History? Yes, certainly. We teach students and adults about the important facts about the Holocaust. One of our founders, Lorie Mayer, a Holocaust Survivor, always emphasized that there is no need to embellish a story about the Holocaust to make it seem more dramatic or horrific – it was horrific.

We explain when and how it happened, who suffered and died, who were the perpetrators, the bystanders, and the upstanders. “Why did it happen?” is a question students often ask. “Why, how could humans do this to other human beings?”  Part of the answer is that too many bystanders let it happen. Not enough people stood up against this evil. But importantly, some did. Some people stood up against tremendous evil, often at great risk to themselves and their families, in order to save lives, do the right thing, and not be a bystander.

Who were these people who stood up against this evil? Were these heroes special, or ordinary people like you and me? These heroes, or Upstanders, came from all walks of life. Farmers, social workers, college students, journalists, and diplomats.  We tell the stories of these helpers, heroes and heroines, Survivors and Liberators so that people can understand the power and importance of their own actions today. Our local Survivors tell the stories of the Upstanders who helped them and their families survive or escape the Holocaust.  Diplomats like Col. Castellanos who issued citizenship papers to Rob’s family,  families in the south of France who took in Renee and Rosette as their own children, and strangers who offered food and shelter to young Abe who escaped from several concentration camps.

Education about the Holocaust is education about the best and the worst of human behavior.

When you walk through the Holocaust Museum or watch a movie about the Holocaust or other genocide, you may think it yourself, “what would I have done?” But the more important question to ask yourself is“what am I doing today to be an Upstander and not a Bystander?”

During this pandemic there are many opportunities to help others and be Upstanders.  Fear can often result in people striking out and looking for a scapegoat. Being calm and responsible rather than blaming others is one way to be an Upstander. Volunteer, help a neighbor, and be a helper wherever and whenever possible.

We look forward to seeing you at the Museum or on one of our virtual programs. Please visit or call 239-263-9200 for more information.

Susan L. Suarez, MBA, CFRE  President and CEO                                                                                                                                                 


Heart to Heart – After “Safer at Home,” What’s Next?

Karen Coney Coplin

by Karen Coney Coplin

Many a truth is said in jest and many a life’s lesson is expressed in a timeless quote.

There are quotes for every season, and, if you dig deep enough (thanks, Google!) for every reason, or problem, or opportunity that might cross your path.

Some of my favorites include:

  1. “Health is the real wealth.” – Gandhi (true then, true now, true always).
  2. “It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment.” – Naomi Williams (alas, that moment may be fleeting).
  3. Calm always follows the storm (paraphrasing Shannon L. Alder, “After every storm, there is a rainbow.”) And yes – we might have to wait it out and wait for it.
  4. “Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.” – John Wooden. A reminder that mindset is a large part of everything we experience and do.

The last several months have been hard on everyone’s psyche, whether at home or in the workforce; and, especially as to the latter -so many businesses had to close earlier this year, during the height of season, or scale back dramatically, as in the case of our favorite local restaurants. And some have not re-opened. A slice of someone’s life in Naples, altered forever.

One newsworthy moment that really packed a wallop during the COVID-19 crisis was the news that the area’s Nordstrom store was closing – for good.

My thoughts first went to the hundreds of employees. Prior to this news, some had posted hopeful messages on social media, because Nordstrom continued to pay salaries, insurance, and the like for the first two, then three weeks of the shut-down. Then the news came that this store would not re-open.

Then, I remembered the dazzling efforts of the creative team which opened this store to great fanfare over a decade ago. Their grand opening welcome party was on everyone’s list! Its closure, an end to an era, is unfortunate news on many levels. We all wait to see what phoenix might arise in its place at Waterside Shops. Hopefully sooner than later for the good of life in Naples.

If we rise by lifting others, there are many ways to make a difference with local businesses. It is too late for this national retailer, but we can take many different, and often easy action steps to support our favorite Naples businesses.

  • Do you receive their newsletter or email alerts? Sign up, share, and shop when you can. Be a cheerleader. Tell your friends and family.
  • Are you following them on social media? Share a post, tag a friend, make a comment, like or love what they have to say.
  • Positive experiences can lead, naturally, to positive reviews. Take a moment to post a thank you for great service or assistance. Or, take the old fashioned (and still very much appreciated route) and send a handwritten note of thanks or a commendation to the owner/manager. A little appreciation goes a long way. Or, if you’re so inclined, a small gift, or gift card, is always welcome.

Another favorite quote of mine: “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel” (paraphrasing Maya Angelou).

Here’s to all the feels – as well as a shout out for a locally founded “KindCarded” movement, busy blazing trails of joy, kindness and positivity. No need for any of these to be in short supply in life in Naples. Be inspired. Take note!

If there ever was a time, the time is NOW! Do you want to encourage acts of kindness, large and small? Be a part of the KindCarded movement?

Local photographer and mom Heather Donlan has created beautiful cardstock messages, which offer words of affirmation, encouragement and inspiration. These cards can be passed out as a simple, small act of kindness to brighten someone’s spirits or even make someone’s day. As she declares on the movement’s website, “Pretty much every human can use kind words and a little encouragement from time to time.”

Be kindhearted. Be KindCarded! “You make me laugh” is one such card out of the set of 48 offering caring and expressive sayings. Share these with loved ones; or an acquaintance or a passing stranger. Let the ripple effect begin with you!

A shout-out to #shopsmall #shoplocal:The KindCarded gift box sets are available locally at Haven- The Collective, located at 950 3rd Ave. N., Suite B, Naples, FL 34102, or online:

See the article postscript for a chance to win a KindCarded set.

Email Karen with article ideas concerning Life in Naples (especially as to local charitable organizations and their activities in the age of Covid-19): Follow her on Instagram for more vignettes about Life in Naples: @naplesbythenumbers. Readers, send along your favorite, if lesser known, quote or inspiration concerning kindness or gratitude. One will be selected to receive the KindCarded gift set and announced here in the November issue.

How Zoo Horticulture Works

by Danielle L. Green, Naples Zoo Director of Gardens and Grounds

Zoo horticulture is a unique blend of specialties that work with plants but often include skills in arboriculture.

A “zoo arborist” shares many skills and tree care goals with a municipal arborist but perform under a unique set of circumstances not often encountered in a municipal setting.

The life of a tree in the zoo environment can be tough. Thankfully, many tools and techniques exist that can improve soil and maintain proper tree health. At Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens in Naples, Florida, we have a unique combination of historical and tropical specimens that tell a story about the property as well as create a lush and beautiful backdrop for the animals and exhibits.

Many of our specimen trees date back to the early 1900s, planted by Dr. Henry Nehrling, and require specialized care regimens. Our climate allows for many tropical and subtropical species that serve many functions: beauty, shade for animals and guests, food for the animals to browse, perching sites for birds, scratching posts for tigers, and “furniture” that encourages animals to explore and be active in their exhibit habitat.

Managing the tree canopy in a zoo environment requires organization and consistent monitoring. Safety of the animal collection and the zoo guests is always a priority.

Frequent inspections and documentation serve to ensure specimens are healthy and concerns are addressed promptly. Access to many specimens can be difficult because of adjacent structures such as restrooms, playgrounds, food areas, or animal exhibits…or animals decide they do not want to shift inside holding areas!

Coconut removal over the alligator exhibit is always an adventure! Tree work such as pruning or root therapy requires specific planning and good communication amongst all departments. Most tree care activities impact the guest experience and sometimes require moving of animals to facilitate work.

Protecting trees from animals browsing, climbing, or scratching within an exhibit is a challenge for the zoo arborist different from that of a municipal or residential arborist. Many creative solutions exist such as using boulders or other objects to distance animals for the trees, flashing materials installed along the trunk, or managing the tree size inside the exhibit to contain animals if they do interact with the trees.

Signage and interpretation of the tree work being performed can serve to educate zoo guests and even staff on proper pruning, plant healthcare techniques, and pest and disease control

.Signage also educates zoo guests about how some trees species provide browse for the animals. In many cases, pruning debris is offered to animals like giraffe as part of their daily enrichment or a limb removal becomes a perch for a bird in the collection. Each species offered to animals must be approved by the veterinarian staff.

Soil compaction is a common issue in the zoo environment. Many tree specimens are located between exhibits, adjacent to public pathways and facilities, and within event spaces. This means they are subject to constant foot traffic from guests, staff, zoo animals, and construction activities that compact the soil.

Employing technology and systems developed for the arbor industry such as air-powered excavators and pressurized injection systems are used at the zoo to reverse soil compaction issues and get fertilization to the root system. This is extremely important in exhibits with large animals such as elephant and rhino as they compact soil easily.

Maintaining a healthy urban forest in a zoo is an essential part of caring for wildlife, educating guests, and offering a beautiful garden to visit.

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Naples Welcomes Cornea Specialist Dr. Jamie D. Martinez

Dr. Jamie D. Martinez

The Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Naples welcomed Dr. Jamie D. Martinez in May 2020. He and his wife made the move to Naples right amid COVID-19 with their four-year old twin girls, and baby boy set to arrive July 2020.

Dr. Martinez completed his ophthalmology residency at one of the best eye centers in Latin America Asociación para Evitarla Ceguera, Mexico City in March of 2017.

After his residency, he became part of the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute family and completed his one year research fellowship and continued for two years of training on Cornea, Cataract and External disease with Bascom Palmer.

In 2018 Dr. Martinez received the Gillingham Pan-American fellowship award for his research efforts. The funding propelled his research fellowship and allowed him to explore his interests of of corneal infections, ocular corneal surface disease, and high-risk corneal transplants.

Dr. Martinez has great interest in infectious keratitis and seeks to develop novel therapies for this challenging disease. Currently, he is conducting research on the use of Rose Bengal Photodynamic Antimicrobial therapy (PDAT). He reports the progress has been successful in understanding the new treatment along with its application, and there remain many aspects to continue to study and develop.

His latest work has explored the safety of this technique in a rabbit model which has successfully treated several clinical cases of severe unresponsive corneal infections resistant to standard medical therapy. The treatment of PDAT resolved the keratitis, preventing the need for emergent therapeutic penetrating keratoplasty.

Dr. Martinez looks forward to continued innovations in the field of corneal infections and exploring new methods and techniques to combat this challenging disease. He has always envisioned himself as a clinician scientist and to be a part of a team where he can provide excellent clinical care, participate in research endeavors, and be actively involved in teaching residents and medical students. Cataracts are a leading cause of blindness across the world.

Throughout the past three years, Dr. Martinez has been doing international cataract surgery missions trying to help the fight against blindness.

Lessons From Your Youth That Could Save Your Life

Michelle Avola
Ex Director of NPC

Look both ways before crossing the street. Wear light colors at night so people can see you. Walk against vehicle traffic. Ride your bike in the same direction as other vehicles.

We probably all learned these and other important safety tips from our parents or at school when we were kids, but it seems like a lot of people have forgotten some of the most basic principles of bicycle and pedestrian safety.

Please read these important reminders and pass them along to your neighbors and friends. You just may save a life!

  • Pedestrians must walk AGAINST traffic (this includes the shoulder, travel lane, and bike lane.)
  • Pedestrians should use sidewalks wherever present. If you must leave the sidewalk, move to the grass, and only enter the road if you are facing against traffic.
  • Never step out in front of someone approaching on a bike or in a car. If you must exit the sidewalk for the shoulder, travel lane, or bike lane, look both ways before entering.
  • Cross at a crosswalk or controlled intersection, never mid-block. Drivers do not expect people in the middle of the road and landscaping may prevent them from seeing you until it is too late.
  • Look both ways, keep your head up, and avoid distractions. Keep your phone in your pocket.
  • Pedestrians may use the travel or bike lane(against traffic), if there are no sidewalks.
  • Be considerate. When walking/running in the shoulder/bike lane, stay single-file or step onto the grass to allow bikes to pass and avoid forcing them into the travel lane. Cyclists are traveling with traffic and cannot see vehicles behind them; pedestrians can see overtaking cars if facing the correct way.
  • Cyclists should always wear a properly fitting helmet. It is mandatory for you thunder the age of 16, and smart for EVERYONE.
  • Cyclists must ride WITH traffic and obey all road rules. This includes making complete stops at all stop signs/signaled red lights and using hand signals when turning in traffic.
  • Cyclists should use bike lanes if they are present unless there is a safety hazard.
  • Always bike with your head up, alert to hazard son or approaching the road.
  • Cyclists must NEVER wear earbuds or headphones to listen to music. Its unsafe and illegal.
  • Cyclists may use sidewalks when there are not bike lanes present except when posted as restricted (for example, downtown on 5th Avenue South).
  • Use extreme caution if riding on a sidewalk. Driveways and parking lot entrances and exits are frequent collision points.
  • Use extreme caution when entering the shoulder, travel lane, or bike lane if obstructions or hazards make the bike lane or sidewalk unsafe, use extreme caution.
  • Motorists are legally required to give at least three feet clearance when passing a person on a bike. Slowing down until it is safe to legally to pass a cyclist will not change your travel time, but it could save a life.
  • ALWAYS LOOK for people biking and walking before turning into or out of a parking lot, driveway, or turn lane.

Naples Pathways Coalition, Naples Velo, Blue Zones Project SWFL and many local bicycle/pedestrian education and advocacy organizations have been working together to educate all road and pathway users – whether driver, cyclist, or pedestrian – how to move safely and correctly along shared corridors. We are working to teach not only the rules of the road, but also proper etiquette in communicating predictable movement to ensure safe streets for all.

With proper caution and adherence to these reminders, we can all do our part to improve the safety of vulnerable road users.

Please visit to learn how YOU can join the movement to create a safe, bikeable, and walkable Naples!

Chicago Influence Deeply Rooted in Naples

Many great institutions make up Naples.

Artis-Naples, The Conservancy, Naples Botanical Garden and even the Naples Pier come to mind.

Now add the Naples Winter Wine Festival, Children’s Museum, Cambier Park’s Norris Center, Port Royal and Park Shore.

The impact covers our economy, arts, environment, recreation, children’s health and well-being, and education at all levels. Hard to believe all those institutions, all that good work, can be traced to visionaries from a single place.


Let’s start our story with Raymond Lutgert. He bought the 740 acres for the gulf-front Park Shore subdivision for $3.5 million in the mid-1960s; the taxable value now is $5 billion. He and son Scott would go on to develop shopping centers, Mercato, The Estuary at Grey Oaks, The Northern Trust Building and more, and add corporate subsidiaries, with a third generation joining in.

The legacy of philanthropy includes NCH Healthcare System, Boys & Girls Club, Florida South Western College, Children’s Museum, Shelter for Abused Women & Children, Florida Gulf Coast University (Lutgert School of Business) and the wine festival, which has raised $212 million for youth hunger, dental, mental and eye health in 20 years.

Fellow Chicagoans have served on the wine fest board: Pauland Barbie Hills, Joe and Nancy Masterson, Peter and Shirley Welsh, Bob and Joan Clifford, Rick and Katrina Kash and David and Jerri Hoffman.

David Hoffman himself has earned headlines as a dominant investor in downtown Naples real estate, a variety of businesses and Hertz Arena/Florida Everblades in Estero.

The Hoffmans’ civic causes include the Naples Botanical Garden, Naples Zoo, Boys & Girls Club, Children’s Museum, Neighborhood Health Clinic and Naples Players.

Myra Daniels

Myra Daniels, a pioneering Chicago advertising executive, introduced world-class visual and performing arts as the founding CEO of the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts. She taught us the arts must b erun like a business. She added an emphasis on children, bringing them in by the school busload for memorable encounters with all the center has to offer.

Children are the pulse of Daniels’ followup project, the Fran Cohen Youth Center in East Naples, where hundreds of mostly underprivileged youngsters go after school and summers for tutelage in music, painting, science, technology, math and more.

John Glen Sample, another Chicago ad executive, would come to Naples in the 1940s and start buying up two square miles of mangrove swamp and dredge-and-fill it into today’s magnificent Port Royal.

In the early 1950s, when sales began, he said it would become the greatest place in America to live. Today’s residents, including a United States House and United States Senate member, would agree.

Jack Nortman, from Chicago, single-handedly engineered the search for and restoration of a Holocaust era boxcar that has served as a fixed and traveling education icon since 2008. He also serves on the board of the Gulfshore Playhouse, where he is a financial supporter alongside fellow Chicagoans John and Carol Walter, Susan Regenstein and Barry Frank, Rick and Katrina Kash, George and Barbara Franks and Mary and Stephen Byron Smith.

Community investing is a family affair for the Smiths. In a single year, 2013, David and Vicky Smith, Jeannie and Christopher Smith, and Mary and Stephen Smith, were named Philanthropists of the Year by an organization of fundraising professionals.

A Florida Weekly story said the Smiths’ contributions included the purchase of an historic house on Broad Avenue South for the Naples Historical Society; building the Christopher B. Smith Preserve at the Conservancy; and sponsoring named features at the Naples Botanical Garden including the Children’s Garden, River of Grass and a labyrinth.

Chicagoans Linda White and the late Harvey Kapnick listen to a garden planning presentation.

The garden gifts followed the lead of another Chicagoan, Harvey Kapnick, whose bold $5 million infusion in 2000 secured today’s site in East Naples. Other early supportive Chicagoans included Nicholas and Eleanor Chabraja, Jim LaGrippe, Bates Lea, Linda White and Pat Buehler. Kapnick’s botanic vision carries on with his son and daughter in law, Scott and Kathleen Kapnick –both Chicago natives — who remain involved and generous.

Lavern Gaynor

Our story concludes with another example of multi-generational impact. Lester and Dellora Norris, Chicagoans with leadership stakes in Texaco, started coming to Naples in the 1940s and helped build NCH, The Conservancy, Norris Center, Lowdermilk Park pavilion and Delnor-Wiggins State Park.

They rebuilt the Naples Pier after two storms. A daughter, also a Chicago native, Lavern Gaynor, carries on the legacy with support for the YMCA, libraries, Artis-Naples, Alliance for Children, Champions for Learning, Naples Historical Society, Youth Haven and Naples Backyard History.

Her gifts, as well as the gifts from all the others from Chicago, keep on giving.

Editor’s note: Who or what have we missed?

Email the writer with information for follow-up coverage.

2021 Naples Winter Wine Festival “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”

2021 Naples Winter Wine Festival “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” will be Highlighted
by Televised Fundraiser to Support At-Risk Children in Collier County

The Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF) announced that it willpresent a virtual 2021 Naples Winter Wine Festival “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” on Saturday, January 30, 2021, celebrating the dedicated community of partners who have helped deliver life-changing services to the underprivileged and at-risk children in Collier County.

The Naples Winter Wine Festival enters its 21st year, impacting more than 45 of the most effective nonprofits in the local community and providing more than 275,000 local children with the services and resources they need to excel. Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the annual event has been re-engineered to prioritize the health and safety of all NCEF donors, patrons and partners.

A highlight of the event is the first-ever televised fundraiser, courtesy of WINK-TV. This one-hour broadcast will be an opportunity for NCEF to build community awareness of the organization and the systems of care it has built to support children. It will weave together live and pre-recorded segments offering inspirational success stories, personal stories from parents and beneficiaries, reflections from NCEF founders, and the measurable impact that NCEF has had in Collier County.

Throughout the broadcast, NCEF will ask the community to join together in this important work by making a pledge of support either via text or online. In addition, the popular online auction will be available for all to participate and will remain open for bids until Tuesday, February 2, 2021.

Plans are coming together for another successful event thanks to the leadership of the 2021 Festival Chairs Darlene and Don DeMichele. This year’s theme “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” is particularly prescient during these uncertain times and reflects NCEF’s enduring determination and achievement in impacting the lives of thousands of underprivileged and at-risk children.

“Thanks to the commitment of our Trustees and the generosity of our donors, we have been able to build systems of care with 45 of the most effective non-profits throughout Collier County,” said Darlene and Don DeMichele. “Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has created even greater need within our community. Our response requires creative thinking, flexibility and building new community partnerships in order to meet the soaring demand for these vital services.”

Don & Darlene DeMichele

The DeMicheles take on the role as Festival Chairs after three years as NCEF Trustees. Darlene DeMichele is the former President of QVC U.S. Commerce, where she was instrumental in the company’s exponential growth and diversification of its sales platforms. More recently, she has served as President of Multi-Channel Management Group LLC, a consulting firm advising retailers and manufacturers on digital platform strategies. Currently, Darlene DeMichele is the Executive Director of Ikatu International, focusing on impact investing in the areas of sustainable agriculture, affordable housing for the working poor and micro finance for impoverished women in rural communities. A former executive with The Proctor & Gamble Company and Ocean Spray, Don DeMichele is Co-Chairman of Triaxia Partners, a consulting group focused on the strategic planning and building of customer-centric, multi-functional teams in Fortune 100 organizations.

“We are grateful for the support we have received over the past 21 years building the Naples Winter Wine Festival, from our vintners to our celebrity chefs, bidders, sponsors, volunteers and our beneficiaries who are doing the work in our community,” said NCEF Chief Executive Officer Maria Jimenez-Lara. “Our priority is the health and safety of all our supporters. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 data into the Fall to determine if any other features can be added.”

For updates on the 2021 Naples Winter Wine Festival, visit

About Naples Children & Education Foundation

The Naples Children & Education Foundation, the founding organization of the Naples Winter Wine Festival, is improving the educational, emotional and health outcomes of underprivileged and at-risk children. Through its annual grants and collaborative strategic initiatives, NCEF has impacted over 45 of the most effective nonprofits in the community, providing more than 275,000 children with the services and resources they need to excel. NCEF’s unique approach, which emphasizes collaboration between organizations and bridges public and private resources, has become a blueprint for how to transform a community, one issue at a time.

About Naples Winter Wine Festival

The Naples Winter Wine Festival, one of the world’s most prestigious charity wine auctions, offers a weekend of unforgettable memories. Guests enjoy world-class food and wine during intimate dinners in private homes and are invited to bid on once-in-a-lifetime travel and wine experiences during an electrifying live auction. Since its inaugural event in 2001, the NWWF has raised more than $212 million, making a profound difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of children.

For additional information on the Naples Children & Education Foundation or the Naples Winter Wine Festival, contact Lisa Juliano at or 239-514-2239.


Naples Children & Education Foundation Launches “Drawn Together. Creating Hope.”

NCEF Chief
Executive Officer
Maria Jimenez-Lara

The Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF) has launched a community-wide campaign to engage both children and adults in an effort to draw attention to the valuable work that the organization does to improve the physical, emotional and educational lives of children in Collier County, especially in light of the devastating Covid-19 pandemic.

The “Drawn Together. Creating Hope.” campaign invites the community to draw or color on one of four downloadable illustrations representing the four NCEF service categories of Child Advocacy, Early Learning, Medical/Healthcare and Out-of-School Time.

As part of the campaign, NCEF also is offering virtual Zoom backgrounds that can be downloaded from its website for free.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has affected us all, but it has had the greatest impact on the underserved and underprivileged members of our community,” said NCEF Chief Executive OfficerMaria Jimenez-Lara. “Children have been hit the hardest, deprived of nutrition and after-school care along with a range of essential services. The work of NCEF is now more vital than ever.”

To help change a child’s future, supporters are encouraged to visit There you can download and print a coloring template or save the image to your tablet or phone.

After creatively coloring in your vision of a better tomorrow, you can share your creation on social media with the hashtag #DrawnTogetherCreatingHope or email it to and NCEF will share your illustration on its page.

Participants also will have the opportunity to make a donation to help NCEF fulfill its mission in the supporting these investment categories:

  • Child Advocacy: Child advocacy refers to a range of individuals, professionals and organizations that speak for and protect our community’s most vulnerable children. These agencies provide children in need with a voice, shelter, crisis counseling, mentorship and the essentials to help them overcome the challenges they face.
  • Early Learning: A child’s early years lay the foundation for their lifetime. Enriched learning experiences stimulate a child’s growth in all key developmental areas. An environment with well-educated and caring staff, high program standards and a curriculum based on a child’s developmental needs is critical to that child’s long-term success.
  • Medical/Healthcare: NCEF grants provide children in need with essential medical and healthcare services that have measurable outcomes and a life-changing impact. Therapeutic intervention modalities include applied behavioral analysis, counseling, equine therapy, speech and language therapy, and therapeutic recreation.
  • Out-of-School Time: Programs that operate during after-school, holiday and summertime hours improve engagement in learning by helping young people build stronger relationships with adults, foster better work habits and increase feelings of personal efficacy.

“The goal of this campaign is to increase awareness, involve the community in our work and create hope for the future,” said Jimenez-Lara. “Whether you’re a child or an adult, you can help bring NCEF’s work to life.”

About Naples Children & Education Foundation The Naples Children & Education Foundation, the founding organization of the Naples Winter Wine Festival, is improving the educational, emotional and health outcomes of underprivileged and at-risk children. Through its annual grants and collaborative strategic initiatives, NCEF has impacted over 45 of the most effective nonprofits in the community, providing more than 275,000 children with the services and resources they need to excel.

NCEF’s unique approach, which emphasizes collaboration between organizations and bridges public and private resources, has become a blueprint for how to transform a community, one issue at a time.

About Naples Winter Wine Festival The Naples Winter Wine Festival, one of the world’s most prestigious charity wine auctions, offers a weekend of unforgettable memories. Guests enjoy world-class food and wine during intimate dinners in private homes and are invited to bid on once-in-a lifetime travel and wine experiences during an electrifying live auction.

Since its inaugural event in 2001, the NWWF has raised more than $212 million, making a profound difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of children.

For additional information on the Naples Children & Education Foundation or the Naples Winter Wine Festival, contact Lisa Juliano at or 239-514-2239.