Latchkey League Foundation – Launches season to remember

by Kelly Merritt

t seems like so little – $50 a year. But to one Naples organization it means so much. And the value of such a contribution cannot be measured. It only costs $50 to become a member of the Latchkey League Foundation, but membership is an entry into the most exclusive invite list in town: the only social calendar a Naples resident would ever need for the Season.

The Latchkey Parties are a series of events hosted by Latchkey League members and friends in their homes or clubs. The 2015 season marks the second year of operation. Parties were filled to capacity last year. Proceeds from the parties benefit the Fran Cohen Youth Center, affiliated with The Salvation Army which provides educational, cultural and recreational services to thousands of children in the area who need after-school supervision.

Latchkey members receive a booklet which is the official invitation to attend all of the parties. Each party is a hot ticket, as each of the hosts never fails to wow guests. Tina Nicholson, the dedicated vice president in charge of fundraising, has tremendous respect for all of the Latchkey event hosts. Her own Persian Feast last season called “Night of the Peacock” was a resounding success, a dinner for 60 people which Nicholson prepared herself. But while the parties are epic, Nicholson and her fellow hosts are all about the cause.

“This is for the children and because we are so fortunate, with that comes responsibility – we can change someone’s life and that is the most wonderful thing,” says Nicholson. “The people who are involved support these events knowing all of the profits go to these children: these are totally selfless people who work so hard to make a difference.”

Myra Janco Daniels has been the catalyzing force behind the center, which will occupy the space on Airport Road a block from Estey Avenue in East Naples where the need for it is greatest in Naples. The Latchkey League will renovate the vacant space to provide a place for “latchkey” kids who have working parents and nowhere to go between when school is out and when parents get home from work.

The center is made possible through a major gift from Harvey and Janet Cohen in honor of their daughter, Fran, who lost her battle with breast cancer nearly five years ago. The Cohens named the center after their daughter knowing of her love for children. The center will be a safe place where kids can continue learning and participate in activities.

Attending parties isn’t the only way to get involved. Nicholson encourages people new to the cause to come forward with skillsets that could be of assistance.

“Become a member first and tell us what your skills are. We have people who are graphic designers or have other such talents and that saves us from having to take money away from the programs for the kids,” she says. “It’s amazing the talent we have in the membership. We have people with advanced doctorates working right now and still they find time to help.”

One of the most anticipated parties is the “Secrets of Fashion” luncheon and fashion show February 2 at Quail West Golf and Country Club. “The Secret Ingredient” Boutique is providing the fashions.

Guests will be able to shop the boutique before lunch, dine and then watch the fashion show.

Connie and Vinny Von Zwehl are sponsors and Tina Nicholson and her husband Jack are club sponsors. The store is a specialty women’s boutique in Ave Maria. Shop owner Jeanne Rush has several other successful stores and “The Secret Ingredient” will donate ten percent of all purchases at this event to the Latchkey League. Chef Billie Vassour will provide the luncheon and a ‘secret’ dessert.

Some of the parties are already sold out and the only way to get invited is to be a member – the events are not open to the public. Only members receive the party book.

Currently there are nearly 500 members and the list is growing.

“The more members we have, the more we can do things,” says Nicholson.

To become a member of the Latchkey League, contact Sally Bettin, Secretary, at 239.649.1063 or by email and ask for an application. For more information on Salvation Army programs visit

Here is an abbreviated list of the
parties taking place this season:

The Magic of Christmas

Sunday, December 14, 2014

An Old Fashioned Roundup

Barbeque, Country Music, Line Dancing with
the music of Patsy Cline and bluegrass by the
Monday, January 12, 2015

Classy Glass
Art, Cocktails and Hors d’oeuvres
Thursday, January 22, 2015

Secrets of Fashion
Luncheon and Fashion
February 2 at Quail West Golf
and Country Club

There’s a Song in the Air
A Valentine Operatic Treat with Cocktails and
Hors d’oeuvres
Saturday, February 14, 2015

Call of the Tiles
Mah Jongg and Lunch
Thursday, February 19, 2015

Before and After
History, Restoration and Landscape Artistry
Music, Cocktails and Hors d’oeuvres
Sunday, March 1, 2015
At the home of Christian Busk, ASLA

Cruising in Style
Sailing, Hors d’oeuvres and Cocktails
Aboard the Susanna Bella Yacht
Followed by Dinner at the Naples Yacht Club
Sunday, March 8, 2015

Let’s Make A Deal
Lunch and Bridge at The Moorings Country Club
Friday, March 13, 2015

An Evening in Verona
Extraordinary Art, Cocktails,
Hors d’oeuvres and Dinner
Monday, March 23, 2015

Splendor on the Gulf
Cocktails and Dinner by the Gulf at The Sancerre
Monday, March 30, 2015

Jazz Under The Stars
Cocktails, Hors d’oeuvres, Buffet Dinner
And All That Jazz
Sunday, April 12, 2015

Kentucky Derby Party
An Encore: Derby Cocktail and Buffet Party
Saturday, May 2, 2015

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