Community health nonprofits receive almost $6 million in grants

Mentis' Michele Farhat, deputy director, and Luz Casillas, development and marketing associate, prepare auction items for their annual fundraiser, World of Wine. Mentis is one of 17 local nonprofit organizations to be awarded grants from the Napa Valley Vintners this month and one of five to receive multi-year grants. 

Napa Valley Vintners announced the award of nearly $6 million in grants to local nonprofits that deliver a spectrum of health care services.

The trade association, which represents the wine industry, is disbursing a portion of proceeds from last year's Auction Napa Valley, an annual event that raises millions for local charities and community initiatives.

This latest batch of grants, which are going to 17 nonprofits, comes on the heels of $2 million in grants announced last fall for 10 organizations focused on children's education. Last year’s Auction Napa Valley raised $15.8 million. 

The latest grants are going to community health organizations that provide clients with family support services, emotional health, health care, and assistance to aging populations.

Over the years, the NVV has given more than $150 million to Napa County nonprofits through auction proceeds. These grants help at least 100,000 clients each year, according to the NVV’s most recent Grants Report.

For the first time, several of the grant recipients are receiving multi-year, unrestricted funding. With this approach, the NVV hopes that the nonprofits will be able to more effectively plan as well as leverage Vintner money to attract additional funding.

Mentis, which offers mental health treatment and housing assistance, will receive a $300,000 grant in each of the next three years.

“We’re allowed to use it in any way the organization needs it,” said Michele Farhat, deputy director at Mentis, which was formerly known as Family Services of Napa Valley.

Mentis and other organizations that received the unrestricted, multi-year grants are guaranteed additional funding for three years as long as they continue to meet award criteria.

The NVV are “ahead of their time” by having unrestricted grants, Farhat said. Although there is an expectation that recipients help underserved populations, the grants allow the organizations to pay for things like furniture, salaries and other overhead demands, she said.

For example, other grant programs will allow you to hire a therapist, but not to purchase a computer for the therapist to use, Farhat added.

“It’s fantastic,” she said.

Mentis therapists specialize in trauma treatment, including childhood trauma, trauma related to natural disasters like an earthquake, car accident-related trauma and even Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Their sliding-scale method allows Mentis to help everyone regardless of age, stage of life or income level, Farhat said.

“We don’t turn anybody away,” she said. They have had cases in which someone only had a dollar, so they accepted one dollar, Farhat said.

Several of the organizations that Mentis works with were also awarded grants, including Ole Health, Napa Valley Emergency Women’s Service and Cope Family Center.

The Cope Family Center received a $350,000 annual grant for three years. Michele Grupe, associate director with the Cope Family Center, said the funds will give Cope the flexibility to support programs as needed.

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"We think of ourselves at the first stop for families,” Grupe said. On a daily basis, the family center provides a “warm, friendly place” where clients can talk about their issues and get help making a plan to resolve them.

The majority of the Vintners grant will go to child abuse prevention services and parent education and support services, Grupe said. One program the funding will help is the center’s “Positive Parenting Program,” or Triple-P, which helps parents feel more confident and have more positive interactions by providing tips, classes and one-on-one interactions. 

Cope can now expand the program and make it available in more places and to more people, Grupe said. Programs like this should reduce child maltreatment, reduce visits to the emergency room, and decrease placement in foster care, she said.

The Cope Family Center also works with other local organizations to provide programs, including the UpValley Family Centers, Aldea Children & Family Services and ParentsCan. Each of these was also awarded grants from the NVV.

Collabria Care, Napa Emergency Women’s Services (NEWS) and St. Helena Hospital Family Birthing Center also received multi-year grants.

One of the 17 organizations will receive an additional $60,000 from the NVV, but the recipient has not been identified. 

This year’s Auction Napa Valley will be held June 2-5. For more information, visit or


Public Safety Reporter

Maria Sestito is the Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She covers breaking news as well as crime and courts. Maria came to the Napa Valley Register in 2015 after working at as a reporter and photographer at The Daily News in Jacksonville, NC. S

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