Grant recipients- 2024

Founder, Jeanne Nealon (center) and Director Pam Sparks (2nd from right) from Laces of Love received a check for $10,000 from David Bird, Chair of the Vasari Cares Foundation, Deb Capuano and Stephanie Ackerman. Founded in 2005, Laces of Love has provided new sneakers for nearly 300,000 children in Lee and Collier Counties. The recipients, in grades PreK to 12, all qualify for free or reduced-price lunch at their schools, and, in many cases, this is the first pair of new shoes the child has ever worn. Dedicated volunteers collect, tag and distribute the shoes, partnering with 125 area public schools as well as with several social service agencies. This grant will provide approximately 200 pairs of new sneakers.

(left to right: Warrior Homes President Dale Mullin, Vasari HOA President Paul O’Connell, Lori
Maxwell, Gary Moorhead and David Bird of the Vasari Cares Foundation)

On behalf of Warrior Homes of Collier, President Dale Mullin received a check for $12,000 from the Chair of the Vasari Cares Foundation, David Bird. Warrior Homes of Collier focuses efforts and resources on veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. In 2020, it was estimated that there were 80-90 homeless veterans living in Collier County. Since then, Warrior Homes opened four homes to veterans and their families experiencing housing insecurity—and subsequently reduced veteran homelessness to about 50 individuals. Depending upon their individual needs, the following services are offered: • Transitional housing for those with substance abuse and/or mental health concerns. • Long-term housing, primarily for seniors, who pay rent depending upon their income. • “Rapid” housing for veterans who temporarily need a place to stay while transitioning between housing situations. • Emergency assistance with healthcare and daily living expenses, so veterans can continue to pay their rent, which in turn helps them maintain their health and safety. • Case managers who understand the special needs of veterans. • Scholarships for veterans or their family members to help them prepare for an independent future.
David Bird, Chair of the Vasari Cares Foundation, and some of the Vasari Members who volunteer at New Horizons presented a check for $12,000 to the CEO of New Horizons, Dr. Linda Cunning (pictured far right). Started in 2002, New Horizons provides after school and summer programming at 10 club sites in Lee and Collier Counties. They provide tutoring and mentoring along with life lessons and encouragement to help children achieve success. During 2022-23, volunteer tutors/mentors contributed over 7,500 hours, working directly with nearly 600 K-12 economically disadvantaged children. Some of the Vasari Members who volunteer at New Horizons pictured from left to right are Sue Bird, Gayle Finkelstein, Susan Kravetz, Laurie Marks and Christina Raicevich. New Horizons wants to see all students grow into successful members of our community and graduate from high school with a plan for the future. Summer camps for K-5 children focus on reading to mitigate the “summer regression” that many children experience when school is not in session. Camps for 6-12th graders enhance leadership skills. 11-12th graders also receive personalized help applying to and preparing for college and vocational-technical programs. In the last two reported years, 100% of the seniors enrolled in New Horizons graduated from high school. If you would like to explore volunteering opportunities at New Horizon, contact one of the Vasari members who volunteer there or go directly to their website

Grant recipients- 2023

The Florida Lions Eye Clinic located in downtown Bonita Springs offers free eye care to patients in Florida who are underserved, do not have medical insurance, and meet the qualifying guidelines. All families, children and adults with income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines are qualified to receive services. They have doctors who volunteer their time but often must pay for their services, especially specialists.

In 2023, the Florida Lions Eye Clinic will provide over 2,500 eye exams, over 200 pairs of glasses, 125 eye surgeries and $1,000,000 in services, free of charge to patients!!

 The Vasari Cares Foundation in partnership with Mercedes Benz of Bonita Springs has supported the Golisano Children’s Hospital through its annual Vasari Cares Mercedes Golf Classic. Since 2018 more than $88,000 has been awarded to the hospital known for providing vital and lifesaving care for children throughout Southwest Florida.

The Vasari Cares Foundation recently awarded $10,000 to The Fun Time Early Childhood Academy. Fun Time Early Childhood Academy is a Five Star accredited institution that has been delivering exemplary early childhood education programs that focus on research-based educational programs for over 61 years. “We are incredibly grateful to the Vasari Cares Foundation for their support of our mission” said Jessica Campbell, Executive Director of Fun Time Early Childhood Academy. “This generous grant will enable us to continue offering tuition assistance to low-income working families, ensuring that children have access to a high-quality early childhood education regardless of their socio-economic background. Additionally, the funds will be used to purchase operational materials, books, and classroom supplies that are essential for creating engaging and enriching learning experiences for the children.”