Elaine HawkinsDebbie TolerSandy Stilwell-croppedAndie VogtBev Cherry

SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. introduces its 2016-2017 board of directors, elected during the organization’s annual trustee meeting to serve a one-year term through July 2017. The president of the board of directors is Elaine Hawkins, and vice-president is Debbie Toler. Other officers are: Sandy Stilwell, treasurer; Andie Vogt, vice president of public relations and marketing; and Bev Cherry, secretary.

Board members are responsible for supporting the operations and mission of SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. and administering funds that support local programs benefiting the care and well-being of children in Southwest Florida. In addition to managing the operations of SWFL Children’s Charities Inc., a 501c3 organization, the board’s officers oversee the planning and execution of the charitable organization’s signature fundraising event, the 2017 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest. The two-day festival includes private Chef Vintner Dinners on Friday, Feb. 24 and The Grand Tasting and Live Auction on Saturday, Feb. 25 at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club.

SWFL Children’s Charities Inc.’s annual signature fundraiser, the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, has raised $15.6 million over the past eight years, making it the most successful fundraising event in Lee County and one of the top-grossing wine fests in the country. The nonprofit, SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. donates 100 percent of the event proceeds to three local beneficiaries. Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida is the primary beneficiary of the event, and the money raised helps to fund the building of the new family-centered children’s hospital that will provide new and expanded medical services and subspecialty services to children from Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. In addition to providing funds for the new state-of-the-art Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. grants funds to Florida SouthWestern State College and Florida Gulf Coast University to provide scholarships and equipment to educate the community’s next generation of pediatric health care professionals. For more information, visit www.swflwinefest.org.