Tuscan inspired retreat

Wine Tasters of Naples assists Justin's Place residents with updated space

Naomi and Cassie Leaman of Wine Tasters of Naples helped with landscaping at Justin's Place.

Naomi and Cassie Leaman of Wine Tasters of Naples helped with landscaping at Justin's Place.

The women residents of Justin’s Place Recovery Program for Women now have a beautiful and tranquil Tuscan-inspired space to relax, journal and connect with each other, thanks to Eagle Boy Scouts who built the deck, and the vision of Wine Tasters of Naples member and volunteer, Ron Guthrie.

Wine Tasters of Naples has been a big supporter of St. Matthew’s House since the club’s very beginning in 2007. Funds from the club’s past four charity events which included clothing drives and holiday barbeques have made the support possible. In October 2012 the club launched a volunteer outreach component where members contribute hours of volunteer time to the community.

“People helping people is what makes our community the great place it is. When people with big hearts care, miracles can happen,” said Dan Leaman, President of Wine Tasters of Naples, speaking of the club’s new Volunteer Outreach Program.

Recently when Guthrie saw the shape some of the outdoor picnic tables at Justin’s Place he volunteered to teach the residents how to stain. One thing led to another, and one Saturday led to multiple weekends of teaching and working with the women to stain not only the tables but also the deck. Guthrie also worked with residents to add artistic elements aand landscape the entire area.

Guthrie was so inspired by the project and enthusiasm of the residents that he added a large Tuscan multi-tiered stone fountain to the yard area. He also installed LED landscape accent lighting to make the area more attractive in the evening hours.

As a centerpiece to the deck area, Guthrie envisioned and crafted an antique window shutter, a hand-painted wall mural depicting an Italian countryside and several accent pieces to enhance the “Old World” theme. A small citrus orchard of Valencia Oranges, Honey Bell Oranges and Ruby Red Grapefruit trees was also added to the area as a means of supplying the St. Matthews House Food Service Operation with fresh citrus fruit. All components were paid for by Guthrie, including additional picnic tables.

Residents were moved by Guthrie’s support and enjoyed the process of learning how to stain. “Before I came to the women’s program I never felt like I fit in anywhere, I could never find my place. After coming to St. Matthew’s House (Justin’s Place Recovery Program for Women), I feel like I belong and I have a purpose in life," a resident said.

"I’m truly excited for my future and the plans God has for me. This project helped me recapture the enjoyment of being outside and of handiwork, and it is great to see the end result of hard work.”

Wine Tasters of Naples hosts weekly happy hours, frequent wine tastings and dinners at various local restaurants and businesses as well as monthly dinner/wine tasting parties at private homes. The club has more than 500 members and a waiting list. However the club’s scope goes far beyond social. Since 2010, Wine Tasters of Naples has contributed over $300,000 to local charities.

The club will host a happy hour on Oct. 4 at Fish Restaurant at The Village on Venetian Bay from 5 to 7 p.m. The cost is $5 for members and $7 for nonmembers.

For more information about Wine Tasters of Naples: contact founder and president, Dan Leaman at (239) 404-0254 or dannao2@comcast.net. Sherri Weidman is the public relations chair of Wine Tasters of Naples.

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