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Lakewood Ranch Community Fund to host its first wine soiree

Proceeds from the inaugural fundraiser at Esplanade Golf and Country Club will allow the Community Fund to issue grants to regional charities in 2023.

Nancy Sykes, a Lakewood Ranch Community Fund board member, is in charge of organizing the fund's first wine soiree. (Photo by Jay Heater)
Nancy Sykes, a Lakewood Ranch Community Fund board member, is in charge of organizing the fund's first wine soiree. (Photo by Jay Heater)
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Nancy Sykes doesn’t have to worry that she throws a party and nobody comes.

She just has to worry about making sure they have fun once they get there.

Sykes is the event coordinator for “Eat. Drink. Give Thanks. Be Generous,” which is the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund’s new event to produce funds for regional charities and to bring more awareness about the Community Fund.

The event has been welcomed by the community with open arms, with almost 200 of the available 250 tickets already purchased.

The hope is that the wine event, which will be held Oct. 27 at Esplanade Golf and Country Club in Lakewood Ranch, becomes an annual tradition. Sykes, who joined the Community Fund board a year ago, has the important task of putting it all together.

“I have never done anything like this before,” she said of being the coordinator of a huge fundraiser. “This will be several fundraisers within one fundraiser. We will have a silent auction with wine, a live auction, a raffle.

“It’s really our inaugural (wine) event,” Sykes said. “Think about how many people have moved into the area in the last 10 years. They don’t know us.”

She said “Eat. Drink. Give Thanks. Be Generous” will give the fund the opportunity to drive awareness, as well as celebrate the work of the region’s nonprofits.

The event also will be used to congratulate and recognize the Community Fund’s C. John Clarke Humanitarian of the Year award recipient and present grants from the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund of Manatee Community Foundation to regional charities. Proceeds from the event will allow the Community Fund, which will present about $60,000 in grants this year, to issue even more grants in 2023.

Sykes volunteered for the event coordinator’s job because she wants to help in any way she can.

“I retired young,” she said. “So I decided I should spend my time helping others.”

She spent her career in human resources for companies like General Electric, Goodyear, U.S. Steel and Southern Company, so it’s obvious she has people skills. She even lived in Shanghai, China for three years.

She now lives in Esplanade and she notes that she and her husband Howard live in the 13th house on the 13th hole on the Esplanade golf course, in house number 13013.

The Community Fund is hoping she is lucky when it comes to organizing fundraisers.

“What I see, personally, is that people who live in neighborhoods like mine are privileged,” she said. “We don’t look outside our borders much. But there are so many wonderful organizations here that do great things for people who need help. I want to visit as many of them as I can and I want to be able to give back to the community I live in.”

Her main task now is to work with a Community Fund board that seems determined to host more events in the future so it can raise more money to support nonprofits.

“Being on this board gives me more reach (in helping),” she said. “And I find that not many people know about how many of our neighbors are in need.”

The great community response to the wine event shows people are willing to support those in need.

“We are thrilled to be hosting the first wine soirée event for the Lakewood Ranch community fund,” said Board President Nicole Ryskamp. “It’s going to be a great night to be with friends, meeting new friends, and learning about the amazing work by many of our local nonprofit organizations, and hearing from our Humanitarian of the Year recipient.”

Sykes, the board secretary, said she is excited about the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund’s direction and future. She said the fund’s addition of a full-time executive director in Adrienne Bookhamer was a huge addition.

“Yes, I believe our trajectory is so positive in terms of what we can accomplish,” she said.

More than 30 grant recipients will be acknowledged at the wine event with a brief description about what they do.

As far as the event itself, Sykes calls it a cocktail-attired, wine and food pairing with a lot of socialization.

“People are going to get to know their community leaders who run the nonprofits,” she said. “Everyone will be having a lot of fun while we are driving the awareness and celebrating their work.”

Wines will be paired with appetizers and a pasta station will be offered.

Esplanade Golf & Country Club will be catering the event.

Sykes said she hopes the event becomes bigger and better every year.




Jay Heater

Jay Heater is the managing editor of the East County Observer. Overall, he has been in the business more than 41 years, 26 spent at the Contra Costa Times in the San Francisco Bay area as a sportswriter covering college football and basketball, boxing and horse racing.

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