When I lived in Maine, I produced a community issues talk program on WBLM radio that aired on Sunday mornings.  I learned a lot about the Portland, Maine area’s community. I interviewed Bart Weyand, from the English as Second Language Program at the University of Southern Maine. The program was about immigrants and refugees that were coming into Portland as a port of entry. Because they didn’t have the language skills, they couldn’t apply for grants, scholarships. or loans. If we could be get these citizens into the program, they could then apply.

What did it for me was finding out that an immigrant surgeon was processing meat at a food processing plant. That kind of skill was being wasted on a job where his skills weren’t being used?  I couldn’t fathom it. Bart also mentioned that the immigrant’s language skills were also not to progress, based on the fact that typical language skills in this setting are marginally intelligent. (I’m sorry if this seems insensitive for who is working in this plant. By and large, this is the mainstream reality.)

I had to do something about it, so I went on a bender with my Portland Maine Rotary Club. My argument wasn’t about immigrants and/or refugees and whether or not Portland should be a port of entry. This was already happening. My argument was about a waste of talent. I had to lobby each member, before I felt that the board was ready for my proposal. I got it passed… Not only for one scholarship, but two of them. It passed just before I moved to CA in 1992. When I left, I asked someone I trusted with my passion to carry it forward. Returning years later, I saw an ad on TV, calling for applications for the scholarship.

Today, there are SIX college scholarships. Done!

I believe in helping our population to progress. I also believe in helping our wine industry in the same way, when possible.

From their press release…

Three new scholarships to the Professional Members

of Women for WineSense

In honor of Women for WineSense’s 25th anniversary, the Napa|Sonoma chapter (WWS) will offer three new scholarships to its Professional Members. Eligible WWS members who are seeking to progress their careers with additional education may apply online or by mail for the scholarship awards totaling $1,750 through May 31, 2015.

Eligible education programs for the awards include, but are not limited to, WSET, Court of Sommeliers, online wine business management certificates, wine finance and accounting, viticulture and oenology courses. Winners will be chosen on merit by a blue-ribbon panel of seasoned WWS Professional Members. The Grand Cru ($750) and Premier Cru ($500) Scholarship winners will be announced at WWS’ “Bubbles, Brix & Buzz IV” event on July 22nd at Ram’s Gate Winery in Sonoma.

These new scholarships, awarded directly by the WWS chapter, will supplement the four chapter scholarships previously announced totaling $10,000, which will be awarded to students this year in wine business or viticulture and oenology degree programs at Sonoma State University, Santa Rosa Junior College, Napa Valley College and U.C. Davis. “Many of our members supplement their formal education with courses and programs related to the wine industry and specific to their discipline,” explained chapter president, Christine L. Mueller. “These scholarships will help our Professional Members attain their career development goals of progressing in the industry.”

The first of its kind, WWS scholarship fund was started more than a decade ago in 2002 by the Napa|Sonoma chapter of WWS to help students with financial challenges pursue a career in the wine industry. This furthers WWS’s goals to foster passion and education for wine making, business, marketing and enjoyment, and allows students that may not otherwise have access to the higher education institutions in Northern California. To learn more or apply for these new scholarships, visit: www.wwsnapasonoma.com/wws-scholarships.

Throughout the year the chapter hosts events and fundraisers for this cause, including their upcoming “Summertime Rosé” event at Sonoma’s Best on June 11th and “Bubbles, Brix & Buzz IV” on July 22nd at Ram’s Gate Winery in Sonoma.

Women for WineSense is a not-for-profit organization 501(c)6 formed in 1990 to help promote women working in the wine industry. WWS offers outstanding education programs, member benefits, and networking opportunities to industry professionals and wine enthusiasts. The Napa/Sonoma Chapter currently has more than 325 members of which nearly 80% are professionals in the wine industry. To join or learn more about membership, please contact Ellen Reich Luchtel at Membership@WWSNapaSonoma.com or visit the WWS chapter’s website: WWSNapaSonoma.com.