a special date – feb.14

Feb-14-Valentines-Day-690x431According to NPR, it has rather barbaric origins with the ancient Romans. Chaucer and Shakespeare sweetened it with their prose, with popularity eventually bringing it to America. In 1913, Hallmark Cards produced the first cards for the holiday.

Wait just a minute! We are not discussing Valentine’s Day, but instead another special occurrence that happens on Feb. 14. For this is the last day of our special couple pricing – two tickets/$200 – for Taste for Learning.

Taste will be Saturday, May 17 at Rosen Shingle Creek. Purchase tickets at www.ATasteForLearning.com. And on the site, you can also book a room at Rosen Shingle Creek at a special-event price.

After Feb. 14, each ticket will be $125, which is still a bargain for all the event has to offer.

This year will feature spirits and you can even expect some craft beers, but the emphasis is wine with vintners from all over the world pouring the finest they have to offer.

Wine and the celebrated Valentine’s Day do have something in common, both can trace their roots to ancient times. The New York Times tell us that wine “is as old as civilization itself.” 6000 B.C. dates the first evidence of fermenting grapes for juices. Wine permeated society and gained popularity in the Roman era. It was during that era that something wonderful was born – the wine bar.

wine corks

As time moved on, giving us new empires and ages, the method and consumption of wine changed. By the 18th century, the wine market boomed and came to the New World and Australia in the 19th century.

It was many years later, in 1936, that ABC Fine Wine and Spirits was born. Jack Holloway, a cigar store manager, thought the end of Prohibition brought an opportunity to expand from cigars into spirits.

No doubt some of you drive or walk by that first store on a daily basis, Jack’s Friendly Neighborhood Bar, at the corner of Orange Avenue and Wall Street in downtown Orlando. Growing to a half-dozen stores during the next decade, it was the year 1950 that the name ABC Liquors was chosen. Company legend has it that Jack wanted a name that folks would remember, and one that would show up first in the phone book!

The 70s brought the addition of lounges to retail stores and the 80s brought an expansion to the northern part of Florida.

The updated name, ABC Fine Wine and Spirits, came in 1993 and today the company is celebrating 75-plus years in business with stores all over Florida.

ABC_3D_LOGO_HI RES2

It was when Jess Bailes, executive vice president at ABC, crossed paths with Valencia that Taste was born. The year was 2005 and board members agreed to the event only if all event proceeds went directly to scholarships. That is still in place today – 100 percent of all sponsorships, ticket sales and auction proceeds go directly to the intended purpose.

But time does bring some change for Taste. The event was blessed with another special presenting sponsor, Rosen Shingle Creek. Next month we will take a look at Rosen’s impact on Taste and Valencia.

2012 saw a new partner for the event, Orlando Health Foundation. They are again our partner for the 2014 event and plan to use their portion of the funds for medical education.

What will Taste bring next? The best way to find out is to purchase your tickets today. Hope to see you there!

taste – where does the money go?

new Taste logo

new Taste logo

Have you bought your tickets to Taste for Learning at www.ATasteForLearning.com? Well, you can be proud of the fact that 100 percent will go to scholarships and medical education.

From the ticket holder to the presenting sponsor and all the auction items in between, all of the money goes to the cause. And it has always been that way. The last six Taste events have raised a total of $2.27 million for educational support.

Money for the event comes from ticket sales, the silent auction and, of course, sponsors. With the addition of McCree General Contractors and Architects Inc. and Universal Orlando Resort, here is a look at our generous benefactors.

Sommelier level: ABC Fine Wine and Spirits and Rosen Shingle Creek
First press level: McCree General Contractors and Architects
Vintner level: Orlando Magic
Cabernet level: Charles Perry Partners Inc., Edlen Electrical Exhibition Services, Universal Orlando Resort, Wolverine Anesthesia Consultants

In order to maximize recognition, we ask sponsors to sign on as soon as possible. If you are interested, or know someone who might be, please contact Donna Marino at 407-582-3128 or dmarino@valenciacollege.edu.

While our partner, Orlando Health Foundation, will fund medical education efforts, Valencia Foundation will put the money toward scholarships for first-generation college students.

Just last year, the foundation completed a successful First One campaign and raised $200,000 for first-generation scholarships. During that time, we got to know students, faculty and staff who are first-generation scholars.

Dr. Joyce Romano, Valencia’s vice president of student affairs, put it best when she said, “When you are a first-generation college student, your ideas of what is possible are so limited because you just don’t know what you don’t know.”

Unfortunately, first-generation students are not always set up for success. Not knowing about the college experience, families may be unprepared to offer support when it comes to education after high school. Maybe college was so out of their realm of thinking that they neglected to take core college-prep classes in high school. If the going gets tough, do they have a support network or role model who can offer real-life inspiration that college is attainable?

Being a part of that support network, that is what these scholarships hope to do. Scholarships offer not only financial support, but the belief that someone cares and wants them to do well.

Here are the thoughts and thanks of some of our first-generation students.

Qunesha is the oldest of three and no doubt a big inspiration to her siblings. She said, “Not only will your scholarship help me in obtaining my degree here at Valencia, it will continue to encourage me as I enter the workforce, knowing that I have supporters that believe in my success by investing in my future.”

Bobi shared that education was stressed at her house, but only through high school. She is a mom, working and going to school full time. From her: “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your generosity and for helping students who have a vision of bettering themselves through education.”

Jazmine’s career goal is to be a nurse. She plans to continue her education at UCF after Valencia. She acknowledged, “Being the oldest of eight kids puts me in a role model position and I appreciate the opportunity you’ve given me to prove myself and set an example for my younger siblings.”

And Jerome shows us that any time is a perfect time to start at Valencia. He loves computers and looks forward to having a career working with them. He shared, “Because of your generous donation, this third-generation, native resident of Orlando will be able to achieve his dreams and become the first in my family to obtain a college degree.”

Again, tickets can be purchased at www.ATasteForLearning.com. You can truly make a difference in someone’s life.

a closer look: 1st united bank scholarship

1st United Bank presents a check for $5,000 to Valencia Foundation for student scholarships at Valencia College.  From left to right: Michelle Matis, COO, Valencia Foundation; Sam Miles, Sr. VP, 1st United Bank; Jennifer Hinkle, Business Development Officer, 1st United Bank; Donna Marino, CFRE Valencia Foundation Manager

1st United Bank presents a check for $5,000 to Valencia Foundation for student scholarships at Valencia College.
From left to right: Michelle Matis, COO, Valencia Foundation; Sam Miles, Sr. VP, 1st United Bank; Jennifer Hinkle, Business Development Officer, 1st United Bank; Donna Marino, CFRE Valencia Foundation Manager

It used to be thought that people provided charitable donations for some pretty broad, single-focused reasons – they gave because of a religious calling or for the tax deduction. However, now we know that there are a myriad of reasons why people give. Just as each of our students has a story, so too do our donors. The tapestry of each life has been woven and we are grateful to be a part of it.

Relationships are a big part of our work, and it is the same for 1st United Bank, who builds successful relationships with customers, investors and business leaders.

To further promote financial literacy, 1st United Bank established a scholarship program in all the bank’s assessment areas, which includes Orange County. In support of this program, the foundation was gifted $5,000 for scholarships. Senior vice-president, Sam Miles, and Jennifer Hinkle, business development officer at 1st United Bank, delivered the check personally to the foundation. (See photo.)

The scholarship is for low-and-moderate income students who meet the requirement for federal financial aid. They must have a 3.0 or above GPA and be studying banking and finance, nursing or teaching.

These funds will provide 50 credit hours of support and is roughly equivalent to 16 classes at Valencia.

The first of these scholarships have already been awarded and are helping students in need. From Marie, a recent recipient: “It is because of your generosity that I am able to go to class with academic worries instead of financial worries. The 1st United Bank Scholarship has made a huge difference in my life. I appreciate everything that the scholarship has done for me this semester. I will do my best to make this another successful semester.”

And from Ashley: “I would like to sincerely thank you for your generous gift. The scholarship for spring 2013 came to me at a time when I needed it most. With your kindness, I was able to afford my tuition. This scholarship allowed me to focus on my studies without financial concerns.

I currently have an additional two years of school ahead of me. Once I have completed my education I will become a registered nurse. My ultimate goal is to work on a cardiac unit and take an active role in saving lives. From a very young age, I have always wanted to help others. Your generosity has brought me one step closer to reaching my goal.”

And let me add the thanks of Valencia Foundation as well. We count on generous partners to fund scholarships and make education a reality for students who might not otherwise be able to afford an education.