The 25th annual formal Children’s Literacy Center Vintner Dinner was held Oct. 22 with a top-notch auction, four-course gourmet wine dinner and major news after several years of a COVID-induced slowdown.

There were 300 celebrants on hand in Broadmoor West supporting the plan for CLC to become a statewide literacy prototype. More than $233,000 was raised.

Executive Director Gina Solazzi wrote a welcome in the program: “I can’t think of a more appropriate way to acknowledge work of the CLC staff over the past year and dedicated supporters than to enjoy Rombauer Vineyard’s incredible wine and The Broadmoor’s five-star food. Saluti tutti and molto grazie.”

After what was left behind after the “devastation” of COVID years, CLC “has wasted no time in adjusting to the new normal,” Solazzi said. “Tutoring sites reopened, enrollment is growing and new ways of modeling our business have emerged.” In 2021, 485 students were tutored and “an unprecedented relationship” was developed with School District 11 that could become the prototype for districts statewide.

There are now partnerships with three local nonprofits for tutoring at their facilities. Even more volunteer reading tutors are being trained.

It’s a time, Solazzi said, when the operating budget has almost doubled as CLC is positioned “to be a leader in the state for literacy readiness.” It is so important, speakers said. Could any of those attending even imagine not being able to read a computer, a street sign, a newspaper, a book?

Since 1993, close to 20,000 students have studied with CLC-trained literacy tutors, and 95% of the children improving reading skills by one or more grade levels in 12 weeks. It is all free.

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Children’s Literacy Center had grown from one site to 13 locations in the state. Solazzi wrote in program notes for guests, “Our organization ensures children living in Colorado struggling to read have the resources needed to transform themselves into eager bookworms, excited learners and contributing adults.”

During the live auction, bidders had an opportunity to choose tax-deductible sponsorship of children in the literacy program.

Auctioneer/emcee Fred Pittman enthusiastically encouraged live auction raised bids for golfing at The Broadmoor, wine icons and dinner with Mike and Diane Bell, a Kentucky Bourbon Trail with a visit to legendary distilleries, and rare 2018 Shrader Cabernets from Michael and Angie Barber. And there was an opportunity to be top bidder for a tour of the Napa Valley Rombauer Vineyards with the evening’s wine host, Bob Knebel, president and CEO.

This live auction followed a chic silent auction that had completely filled tables during the cocktail reception. Wine corks were sold for $20 chances at a $6,250 diamond, gold and silver cuff bracelet from Johannes Hunter Jewelers.

Children’s Literacy Center staff members are Solazzi, Philanthropy Director Ann Sulley, Education Director Noel Wilson, Program Director Sandy McGraw, Regional Director Denver Metro Jody Cohn, Program Manager La Junta and Tara Castaneda.

Board of Directors: Doug Groninger, president; Peggy Carmack, Pam Feilmeier, Jackie Gonzalez, Andrea Baldrica, Charlie Dunn, Tammy Fogall, Tim Hershberger, Joan Selman, Patty Deeny, Stephanie Edwards, Colt Hangen, Lois Page

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