We read mostly about the sybaritic delights of Auction Napa Valley, but the event has real benefits, too. The auction has provided more than $150 million for local organizations, currently in community health and children’s education.
This year, for the first time, attendees got a chance to visit some of the beneficiaries of the attendees’ generosity.
A couple dozen attendees took time from their merrymaking — or maybe sleeping — before the big event to meet at UpValley Family Centers in St. Helena for a walking tour to two other nonprofit organizations’ facilities, those of the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Helena and Calistoga and Ole Health’s clinic in St. Helena.
The visits were suggested and organized by Elaine Jones of Jones Family Vineyards, who along with her husband Rick, is involved in a number of charities.
UpValley Family Centers
The UpValley Family Centers looks like a modest house. It’s next to the Presbyterian Church, which owns it and rents it to the center at low cost.
Executive Director Jenny Ocón talked about its work and led a tour. In the front room are two crowded offices, but the action was taking place in the back yard.
The yard looked like any other, with play structures and a sandbox, but there were a circle of three- and four-year-olds, and their parents were preparing for kindergarten.
The teacher was reading and talking to the children in Spanish and English, and they were responding in kind. Most were Latino, but one lucky blue-eyed blond girl was probably learning Spanish at an early age, too.
The restless kids also had a chance to dance and play, then enjoyed a snack.
This play-education was only a small part of what the organization does.
UpValley Family Centers provide guidance, support and resources for youth, adults and families who live and work in Calistoga, St. Helena, Deer Park, Angwin, Pope Valley, Lake Berryessa, Oakville and Rutherford.
UpValley Family Centers served 1,879 families in 2015. Of individual clients served, 72 percent were Latino, 15 percent Caucasian and 13 percent “other.” Ninety percent of families served are low-income and 80 percent of families served have children ages under 19, records show.
More than half clients speak Spanish as their primary language.
The center has many accomplishments:
100 percent of uninsured children we served were connected to health insurance.
92 percent of parents in our early literacy program read to their child at least three times a week.
85 percent of families served reported positive results from referrals to resources.
Last year, its tax assistance program reached 483 households generating $779,882 in refunds, averaging $1,614 per family.
They also work with more than 40 other local organizations including the Boys & Girls Club and Ole Health to help UpValley residents.
It offers many services in English and Spanish:
Community Connections: Guided resource and referrals; drop-in availability
Health and Wellness: Counseling, domestic violence assistance, health insurance applications, drug and alcohol prevention and education
Education: Parent education, school readiness/summer bridge, early literacy programs, parent/child playgroups, youth mentoring
Economic Success: Emergency assistance for families in crisis, free tax preparation, financial literacy classes, employment assistance, workforce development classes
Immigrant Integration: Outreach, education and application assistance for citizenship and other immigration benefits, community involvement, ESL classes
Seniors: Guided referrals, case management, resource fairs, educational workshops
Its 2015-16 budget is $1.7 million, and Auction Napa Valley provides about 25 percent of its operating funds. Rick Jones, who is on the committee that evaluates and grants the funds, said that they carefully evaluate the results of the donations.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America
The Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Helena and Calistoga was founded in 1989 as part of a national organization. It has 1,541 registered members 5 to 18 and served 1,884 other youth for a total served of 3,425 last year.
It provides many activities and programs, including a place to study, computer training, art and sports after school and during the summer. The cost is $50 per year for members.
The average daily attendance at its three clubs during the school year is 385, and 240 in the summer.
The St. Helena Clubhouse was built and opened in 2008 on the campus of the St. Helena Elementary School.
The Calistoga Club is at Calistoga Elementary School but a campaign to raise money for a clubhouse has raised $9.1 million of the $9.8 million needed and construction will start shortly. The new facility should open by Labor Day 2017.
The Boys and Girls Club also runs the St. Helena-Calistoga Youth Diversion and Intervention Program. It worked with 97 youth last year, and all graduated.
Its annual operating budget is $1.4 million.
The Boys and Girls Club of Napa is also building a new clubhouse in American Canyon.
Ole Health operates eight federally approved clinics including the one in St. Helena. It serves people who have a difficult time getting health care, said CEO Tanir Ami.
Altogether, Ole Health serves about 34,000 people in Napa County, 7,000 of them farmworkers.
It has a large clinic in Napa, but that’s inconvenient for many people. The clinic in St. Helena serves about 2,500 people annually, statistics show.
The clinic is staffed by a doctor plus nurses, practitioners and physicians’ assistants, and each patient has his or her own contact.
It has modern equipment and facilities, and also works closely with local hospitals.
Those who attended the tour also enjoyed a casual lunch at the nearby home of Peter and Willinda McCrae of Stony Hill Vineyards. They were clearly moved by what they saw, and perhaps were even inspired to donate to the $2.1 million raised in the Fund-a-Need lot at the auction, the largest lot — and the only one without any benefit to bidders but satisfaction.