The annual Vine 2 Wine event benefiting Circle of Hope brought the Santa Clarita Valley community together Saturday evening at the Wünderground at Porsche Santa Clarita to support the nonprofit organization’s work of financially assisting residents struggling to pay for their cancer treatment.
Laura Kirchhoff, Circle of Hope’s executive director, said more than 325 attendees helped to raise well over the event’s goal of $100,000.
“We raised a lot more money than we expected on our silent auction, live auction and fund-a-need,” she said. “The more money we were able to make, the more money we can (use to) help people here in our community that have cancer.”
Kirchhoff said Circle of Hope benefits from grants, corporate partners, and other funding sources, including the community.
“We’re here and it’s because of the community and the support of the community that we can do this,” she said.
Attendees enjoyed wine from 27 wineries and breweries from in and around the Santa Clarita Valley. They also had the opportunity to bid on 130 silent auction items donated by the community and 10 live auction items.
“We had a private tour for 10 people to Jay Leno’s garage, and that went for $6,300, and it was quite the (bidding) war going on over that one,” she said, noting that there was also a lot of interest in a weekend with a Porsche 911 race car.
Alison Lindemann, one of three event co-chairs along Christy Grable and Nola Aronson, said the auctions were a huge part of the evening’s success.
“The highlight was really having that kind of a venue and a sellout attendance,” she said. “It’s kind of a kickoff to life again in the community and just such a pent-up demand for attending and supporting our mission.”
Porsche of Santa Clarita was one of those supporters excited to make Saturday’s fundraiser possible.
“Porsche of Santa Clarita is very glad to be able to assist Circle of Hope on their Vine 2 Wine fundraiser thanks to the generosity of the Boeckmann family,” said Sarah Horvet with Galpin Motors, referring to the dealership’s owners.
The funds raised Saturday will help Circle of Hope provide financial assistance at a particularly hard time.
When COVID-19 hit, Kirchhoff said, “There was job loss, layoffs, loss of their insurance, and they’re in the middle of having cancer.”
Then, this March, as people felt more comfortable returning to doctors’ offices after a year without regular visits, “all of a sudden it just hit very hard,” she said.
“There was one period where we took in 25 new clients in three weeks,” said Kirchhoff. “Sadly, what we’re seeing right now is people being diagnosed with stage three and stage four (cancers).”
Colleen Shaffer, the founder of Circle of Hope, had been diagnosed with stage three cancer in the late-1990s. She was told by doctors at the time that she had six months to live.
“I had a dream and I needed something to give me courage,” she said of her founding of Circle of Hope. “I had a passion to help others…I wanted to give back to the people that helped me over the years.”
Circle of Hope was honored Saturday night as the Nonprofit of the Year for the California State Senate’s 21st District by Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita.
“Everybody has been touched by cancer,” Wilk said. “The services (Circle of Hope) provide is invaluably important.”
The local nonprofit will continue fundraising to continue its work on Oct. 9 during its 17th annual Tea at the Hyatt Regency Valencia.