The Heights Foundation/The Heights Center’s 15th annual fundraiser, Love Your Neighbor, on January 20, raised a record $685,750 to support the organization that works to build strong, self-sufficient families in The Harlem Heights neighborhood of Fort Myers. The event was held at The Heights Center.
Guests enjoyed music by Reiko & Friends and cocktails and hors d’oeuvres by Melissa Donahue of Sweet Melissa’s on the Heights Education Building’s rooftop terrace, then proceeded to The Heights Center auditorium and were greeted by emcee Gina Birch of Sunny 106.
Chef Harold Balink of Harold’s prepared a four-course dinner featuring an olive oil poached Black Bass with spinach risotto and orange basil pesto, a Prime Filet Mignon with black pepper Dijon cream, along with wine pairings selected by Harold and Gina. Norman Love Confections provided dessert, a chocolate mousse with chocolate cream crunch, vanilla gelato, and raspberry sauce.
Children from The Heights Center’s education programs entertained the guests with two songs.
Scott Robertson of Scott Robertson Auctioneers conducted the fundraising ask and live auction to support the organization’s educational programs. Donors met a $100,000 donation challenge match by Gaye and Jim Pigott, raising more than $500,000.
Top auction items included a one-of-a-kind necklace created and donated by Mark Loren Designs, in-home dinners by Chef Melissa Donahue of Sweet Melissa’s, Bruce Springsteen in Boston, George Strait and Chris Stapleton in Denver, and a trip to Salema, Portugal. In addition, a sign-up dinner at Harold’s with Harold and Gina raised $16,500.
Guests enjoyed live music by Eclectic after the auction.
“We believe a decent education allows at-risk kids to meet, challenge, and raise the bar on the world’s narrative of them”, said Kathryn Kelly, founder, president, and CEO of The Heights Foundation/The Heights Center. “Our enriching preschool, charter school, afterschool, and summer camp programs ensure that parents can work while their kids learn, are safe and have fun. In addition, our adult and family programs provide opportunities for self-sufficiency. We were amazed by the outpouring of support by our friends and donors to fund our impactful work.”
Event sponsors include The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company, Dave & Cheryl Copham, The Masiello Family Foundation, Clayton & Kim Parks, Maria Wiles, entech, everhart advisors, Kelly Brothers, Inc., and Owen-Ames-Kimball Company.
Event supporters include Chef Harold Balink of Harold’s Restaurant, Chef Melissa Donahue of Sweet Melissa’s Café, Mark Loren Designs, Norman Love Confections, Gaye and Jim Pigott, Caroline and Bill Bloomhall, Georganne and Cliff Williams, William J. Adams, Jr., Gina Birch of Sunny 106, Lisa Bommarito, Floral Design, Brodeur Carvell Fine Menswear, Creative Sound and Lighting, Eclectic Band, Elly Hagen Marketing & PR, The Grazing Haus, Jennifer’s Boutique, The Boston Marriott Copley Place, Mix Marketing/Jeannie Cummings, PartyTime Rentals, Reiko & Friends, Scott Robertson Auctioneers, R.S. Walsh Landscaping, Total Wine & More, Violette Productions/Photography, events committee, Teri Palmer and Jamie Faust, co-chairs, event volunteers, and The Heights Foundation/The Heights Center staff, and The Heights Foundation Board of Directors.
About the Heights Foundation and The Heights Center
The Heights Foundation works to build self-sufficient families in the Harlem Heights neighborhood.
Our mission is to support education and wellness, promote family and community development, and provide the benefits of enrichment and the arts. The Heights Center, supported by The Heights Foundation, is a place for Education, Opportunity, and Enrichment. Heights Early Learning serves more than 80 babies through 4 years old. The Heights Center serves 134 children in AfterSchool and SummerCamp. The Harlem Heights Community Charter School serves 180 children from kindergarten through fifth grade.
Harlem Heights was originally settled as a rural agricultural community. Approximately 780 children live in a mixture of single-family homes and multi-family apartments. Demographically, the population is approximately 70% Hispanic, 20% African-American, and 8% Caucasian. The poverty rate for children in Harlem Heights is more than twice the county average, with family income 40% below the county average. As a result, families cannot easily access family support services in downtown Fort Myers and benefit greatly from programs within the neighborhood.