© 2023 WVIK
Listen at 90.3 FM and 105.7 FM in the Quad Cities, 95.9 FM in Dubuque, or on the WVIK app!
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Cloud Wine Fundraiser for RIHS Scholarships

Rotary wine.jpg
Rock Island Rotary Club

Ruth Lee loves to visit “Cloud Wine,” and a family connection helped her create an intoxicating fundraiser for another place close to heart – the Rotary Club of Rock Island.

A former club president and head of the auction committee, she has helped organize “On Cloud Wine,” a California wine auction that will run through Sept. 2, with proceeds going to Rotary’s Frederick R. Houlton “Service Above Self” Scholarship Fund at Rock Island High School. Lee says it’s a new venture for the 107-year- old club.

“We never have done anything like this and it's actually kind of a one-off, if you will, because a friend of my daughter and her husband’s who lives in the San Francisco area, works for a person who has a little boutique vineyard in Sonoma, California.”

Her daughter, Elizabeth (an attorney), got their friend – who works at Nimble Vineyards in Sonoma – to convince the company to donate $6,500 worth of their wine for the auction.

“With Covid and all those sorts of things, everybody’s fundraisers have kind of taken a hit. So I was looking for something that we could do that would be a little different and might expand our connections, you know, more than our usual fundraisers and this fell into our laps and here we are.”

The Rotary auction site – at rirotary.com - lists the minimum bids for each of 20 groupings, which only represent half the value of the wine shown. For example, a $220 minimum bid (for a $442 value) can get you eight bottles of 2014 Nobis Cabernet Sauvignon, and two bottles of 2018 Nimble Sauvignon Blanc. Most items also include a liquor that is not wine, for people who may not be wine fans.

“Not everybody likes wine. It's hard for me to believe, but that's the case and we thought we would broaden our horizons. So we got a lot of donations, so we added a bottle of top-shelf liquor with, I think, almost every grouping.”

Many Rotary Club members donated other liquor or alcohol for the auction.

The new auction was added on top of the annual wine raffle that Rock Island Rotary does in partnership with The Grape Life in Davenport, which offers discounts on packages and prizes that are given each May. That typically raises about $4,500 a year, and Lee says the new auction aims to collect at least $6,500 – the value of all the wine donated.

The $1,000 Houlton scholarship is named for a former Rock Island-Milan superintendent, who also was a longtime Rotary member. It was given this spring for the first time, to 2021 Rocky grad Cassidy DeMeyer, who is attending Augustana College.

The Rotary established this scholarship to encourage "Service Above Self," the principal motto of Rotary International. Lee says students must demonstrate how they help family, friends, colleagues, and the community. The Rock Island Rotary put in some seed money for the new fund.

“We would like to grow that scholarship a little bit so that we can go beyond the $1,000 level. Of course, we want our award used for good solid students, but you know, the focus really is about being a good student citizen, doing the service component and we don't need our winners to be the top students in the class. We want them to have a really good solid commitment to service .”

Rotary International was founded in 1905 in Chicago, and is the world’s largest and oldest service organization, with over 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs in more than 200 countries. The Rock Island Rotary (with about 100 members) meets Tuesdays at the Quad City Botanical Center.

Its philanthropic projects have included donating books to local schools, funding summer children’s programs in Rock Island, providing water purifiers to impoverished villages in Kenya, and helping rebuild a teen center in Brazil.

For more information, visit https://rotary6420.org 

Formerly the arts and entertainment reporter for The Dispatch/Rock Island Argus and Quad-City Times, Jonathan Turner now writes freelance for WVIK and QuadCities.com. He has experience writing for daily newspapers for 32 years and has expertise across a wide range of subject areas, including government, politics, education, the arts, economic development, historic preservation, business, and tourism. He loves writing about music and the arts, as well as a multitude of other topics including features on interesting people, places, and organizations. He has a passion for accompanying musicals, singers, choirs, and instrumentalists. He even wrote his own musical based on The Book of Job, which premiered at Playcrafters in 2010. He wrote a 175-page history book about downtown Davenport, which was published by The History Press in 2016. Turner was honored in 2009 to be among 24 arts journalists nationwide to take part in a 10-day fellowship offered by the National Endowment for the Arts in New York City on classical music and opera, based at Columbia University’s journalism school.