Philanthropy and wine marry at the annual Uncork For Hope event where participating vintners like Coursey Graves, Nickel and Nickel, Alta Colina, Three Sticks Wines, and Lombardi Vineyards uncork an excellent collection of bottles in the name of giving. Fueled by the philanthropic spirit of California’s wine community, Uncork For Hope aims to empower Orange County’s at-risk youth through community partnerships that help local organizations (like the Thomas House Family Shelter in Garden Grove) raise funds to go beyond what they could normally do alone. This signature event held each May raises well over 100,000 dollars by way of silent and live auctions flush with generous donations from local businesses, restaurants, wineries and more.
No doubt wine runs deeply through Uncork For Hopes’ veins. The idea to create the organization was born in wine country when founder Adam Miller and friends learned that a well-respected charity was closing its doors, leaving a hole in quality services for at-risk children across California. Miller and founding members Christina Garkovich, Nicholas Kochek and Robert Hartmann decided to do something about it. Over wine, the idea for Uncork For Hope took shape resulting in this signature wine-tasting event that raises wine glasses, funds and hope for the child-focused organizations that need it most.
With the help of prominent California winemakers, wine flows freely at the event, but it’s clear that the central theme of the evening is hope—hope for Southern California’s most vulnerable children. Orange County isn’t immune to poverty, hunger and abuse. In fact, 27 percent of children ages 0-6 live below poverty in Orange County. Over 120,000 children in Orange County risk going hungry at any given time. And almost 30,000 children in our communities are victims of abuse. These numbers paint a dismal picture, but leaders in Orange County’s wine and culinary communities choose to take action in the best way they know— through wine and food, and a healthy portion of giving back. Organizations like Uncork For Hope, The OC Burrito Project, and Bracken’s Kitchen, for instance, instigate change, help and awareness of the harshest problems that face our communities.
Hosted at the Center Club across from Segerstrom Hall, this year Uncork for Hope raised funds to the tune of 160,000 dollars. Grants are allocated to several non-profits throughout the year, however one non-profit is awarded with a 25,000 dollar grant. This year Uncork For Hope honored The Joyful Child Foundation.
At the event, Erin Runnion, founder of The Joyful Child Foundation shared that this grant made possible new programming for the Foundation’s BRAVE education initiative.
“It is an honor to have been selected among 58 applicants to partner with the Uncork for Hope Foundation supporting our BRAVE Initiative to empower our community’s most vulnerable children,” she noted.
In 2002 Erin’s 5-year old daughter Samantha was abducted from their home in Santa Ana and murdered. For the past fifteen years, Erin has honored her daughter’s memory by fighting to prevent crimes against children through The Joyful Child Foundations’ BRAVE programs that educate, empower and unite families and communities. Since 2011 over 350 BRAVE teachers have been trained to educate approximately 10,000 students through the ten Be-Brave-Be-Safe lessons in their elementary school classrooms each year. In addition, her initiatives inspired the Amber Alert System which taps the mobile network to alert communities of missing children, sometimes leading to a successful recovery.
The grant awarded by Uncork For Hope helps The Joyful Child Foundation develop a new BRAVE Initiative model specifically for community partners who serve the same high-risk youth through after-school programs and residential service programs for low-income families.
“We know that repetition, and tactile practice significantly improves learning, so we are excited about giving our partner agencies brief weekly lessons that are easy to facilitate to integrate safety empowerment into their daily culture,” Runnion says.
Also honored as the 2018 Champion of Hope is Vince Ferragamo; NFL Super Bowl quarterback, winemaker and philanthropist. Since 1996, The Vincent Ferragamo Foundation has provided generous funding to children’s organizations, often showing that the tradition of combining wine and the desire to help goes hand in hand. We can all cheers to that!