A image from the March 2018 St. Ann Latino Contemporary Art Auction at Artis-Naples in Naples.

Art auction provides scholarships

Naples | Now in its third year, the St. Ann Latino Contemporary Art Auction (SALCAA), is a distinct and heartfelt fundraiser that helps provide faith-based education for those less fortunate.

The event, which will take place Nov. 16 at Artis-Naples in Naples, provides the perfect opportunity for the community to gather and celebrate Latino culture by way of contemporary art, music and cuisine, all while aiding children right in the community.

In 2012, the diocese sent Father Michael Vannicola, Pastor of St. Ann Parish and an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, to an Alliance for Catholic Education meeting for pastors with schools at the University of Notre Dame. He participated in a dialogue regarding the importance of reaching out to Latino students, who make up more than half of young Catholics in the U.S. but aren’t often well represented in Catholic schools. Realizing a need to reach these families in Naples, Father Vannicola asked a St. Ann parishioner to help start a fund to provide scholarships for Latino students to attend St. Ann School.

That generous parishioner anonymously donated $250,000. By 2017, 17 students had benefitted from the fund’s scholarships. But, in order for the fund to continue and for families to be able to be provided with needed assistance, additional funds were required. So, with the help of the Cultural and Performing Arts Center, the St. Ann Latino Contemporary Art Auction was born.

According to auction co-chair Casandra Ruanova-Cordero, the 2018 recipient of D’Latinos and Gulfshore Business magazines’ Face Awards Arts and Culture award, “SALCAA is a simple gesture that makes a huge impact. The attendees enjoy an evening of gorgeous artwork, delicious food and exciting, live entertainment all while perpetuating this fund for children of Latino background to be given an opportunity to thrive in school.”

The level of talent at of the auction lends itself to the hype and success this event has already established in just a few short years. Take for instance, the artist MANO. He has been recognized by former Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Pinellas and former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz for his contribution to Miami’s cultural community. MANO has been featured in numerous publications and recognized by the art and cultural community in South Florida. Not only is he a talented artist, MANO is also a true advocate of charitable causes and donates his time and talent regularly to support countless organizations each year through the donation of his art, lectures and workshops.

“We should help however we can and give back to the community,” MANO said. “It gives me great satisfaction to know that my art provides an opportunity to support so many worthwhile causes, including SALCAA.”

Today, MANO’s art hangs in private and corporate collections throughout the world. He exhibits regularly in galleries, universities, as well as juried art shows throughout the United States, and welcomes visits to his studio in Miami by appointment.

While art collectors certainly benefit from this event, it’s the children who are the true winners. Just ask a parent of a scholarship recipient who asked to remain anonymous. “This is our daughter’s third year at St. Ann School and she loves it. The family values, spiritual teachings and academic knowledge are excellent. We would have never been able to give our daughter this opportunity ourselves. This scholarship has been a great blessing to our family.”

Gina Groch, Principal of St. Ann Catholic School, echoed that sentiment. “Through the Latino scholarship fund, St. Ann School continues to fulfill its mission of serving all families who desire a unique faith-based education of excellence in spirit, mind and body for their children, but could not otherwise afford it,” she said. “Students who receive this scholarship are grateful for their education and live to their greatest potential by excelling in all areas of academics and extracurricular endeavors.”

Tickets are $250 per person and can be purchased by visiting www.SALCAA.org.