CHARITY CASE UPDATE: Website is gone. Good idea that didn’t last. Originally published on November 26, 2010. Today is July 19, 2014.

Once I had a boss who was a philanderer. That was during my teaching days. My students were all 18 years or older, so what I’m about to tell you doesn’t have to do with children, it has to do with young women who were of legal age.

While teaching in Maine, I walked into my classroom as I was about to leave the school for the day, only to find my boss with his hands all over one of my students. It sickened me, because this guy had just left his wife for a mistress he was keeping in Florida. Her husband had come home and found my boss and his wife “engaged.” He chased them both back to Maine with a shotgun. When he got back to Maine, he was forced to also fire the mistress he was keeping. She was also teaching at this school. He then moved in with this new woman-d’jour.

(I can’t make this stuff up… it’s too outlandish and my imagination doesn’t stretch that far.)

So, I caught the guy, and it really did sicken me. I called in sick the next day, because I had a massive headache. This guy proceeded to go into my classes and tell all my students, “Miss Clarke won’t be in today. We call her our ‘Charity Case,’ because we know she’s getting married soon and moving away. We know she  can use the money.”

The first thing my students did was to call me and tell me what he had just said. I loved my kids, and they felt the same toward me, so they let me know what he was up to.

Now, I’m laughing, because I see how absurd this guy really was; and yes, before it was all over, he accosted me. But, all I could do was laugh at him, quite out loud, in fact… which he wasn’t expecting. Laughing at this attacker had really interesting and empowering results for me. He didn’t know what to do, and embarrassedly backed off.

But, enough about me… I toyed with not telling you this story, but it’s such a classic; and, every time I hear “Charity Case” I’m unavoidably transported back to that use of the words.

Back to a wonderfully sincere use of the words Charity Case… In this instance, it’s about a case of wine that’s being produced by a group of women and men in Napa County. It’s called the Charity Case Foundation.

The most fascinating part of this is the realization that Napa County, which operates on a really high level for raising charitable donations, does it with the intent of returning it to its community. In other words, “What’s raised in Napa, stays in Napa,” and it’s mostly headed toward women and children. I find this really remarkable and inspiring. Because Napa has been so successful over the years marketing their valley as a quintessential AVA (American Viticultural Area), the donations that ensue are very substantive. The Napa Valley Wine Auction raises millions of dollars each year, for instance. Other events are also very successful.

Imagine having a glass of rosé with friends, and having your empathetic conversation evolve into a real non-profit. That’s what I call a great conversation and is what happened two years ago among three women of Napa Valley:  Sheila Daugherty, Helen Mawson, and Pat Woodbridge.

Pat’s vintner son Jason Woodbridge introduced her to Sheila, and the two just clicked as great friends. Jason has a huge heart for giving back to his community, and that’s Sheila’s area of expertise. She’s on the Board of Directors for Wolfe Center in Napa. The three women wanted to find a way to financially support local nonprofits, which serve children and families, through these slow economic times and government cutbacks.

What they came up with was to get excess juice from vintners who usually discard what they won’t be using each vintage… Imagine that!

They figured that if they could ferment it, then age the wine, they could sell it by the case for really reasonable prices. They settled on $144 per case, and is sold by the case only… Making their case…

They have now produced 1,200 cases of 2008 Charity Case Rosé, and 2,200 cases of 2009 Charity Case Sauvignon Blanc. That’s only $12.00 a bottle for Napa Valley Rose and Sauvignon Blanc, people. It’s a bargain, but it’s also a great movement.

Everything is donated… with all of the net proceeds go toward four Napa charities:

  1. Aldea Children and Family Services ~ Provides professional mental health and child welfare services to young people with behavioral, social, and mental difficulties.
  2. Cope Family Center ~ Provides support and education to parents and caregivers who are experiencing stressful situations.
  3. Foster Kids Fund ~ Provides enrichment opportunities  to children in foster care.
  4. The Wolfe Center ~ Provides a community based drug and alcohol program for teens and families.

The key players:

  1. Sheila Daugherty ~ Is on the Wolfe Center Board of Directors, and is adept at fund raising.
  2. Helen Mawson ~ Assistant winemaker for Hundred Acre and One True Vine, Helen is in charge of production.
  3. Pat Woodbridge ~ Her son Jason Woodbridge is a vintner in Napa Valley and has her connected.
  4. Peggy Garcia ~ Is donating her time to help with operations, and is a new addition to the team.
  5. Local vintners who have been willing to donate excess juice, rather then dumping it.
  6. Jason Woodbridge ~ Owner of Hundred Acre, is the team of women’s  silent partner; he’s also Pat’s son.
    • Hundred Acre and One True Vine is where the wine is produced.
  7. Biagi Brothers ~ The cases of finished wine are stored, gratis, in their Napa warehouse.

Last I checked, their website isn’t yet functional. It’s due to be launched, so fingers crossed!