For the past six years on the first Saturday of October, River Road Vineyard south of Mulkeytown has held its annual Oktoberfest, through the efforts of Michael and Holly Brower and a host of close friends and loyal volunteers.
The purpose has been to raise money for some very worthy organizations that primarily help young people of Southern Illinois. The outdoor celebration, through food, beverage, and musical entertainment has grown every year and is nearing capacity of the small vineyard holding. The party has raised more than $30,000 in its brief history.
Recently, Court Appointed Special Advocates of Franklin County received a donation of $4,000 from the Browers at their home at the vineyard.
The CASA organizations use volunteers who are appointed by judges as advocates for children that are in court procedures as victims in cases of physical or sexual abuse.
CASA director Mariah Hayes expressed delight at receiving the donation.
"This is just wonderful," Hayes said. "This generous donation helps so much, especially at this time of year when we like to make sure our kids in crisis have a good Christmas."
She was very positive about the dedication and generosity of Mike and Holly and their group for all their past assistance to a variety of child-related organizations in the area. The event has raised funds for the Poshard Foundation for Abused Children and The Night's Shield, and has even contributed to individuals who are facing financial difficulties through struggles with health issues.
CASA Board member Jim Rea, who was also on hand to receive the donation on behalf of the child advocacy group, had high praise for the efforts by the entire team.
"It means a lot because it provides the opportunity to serve children and get them into a safe environment,"?Rea said. "Sometimes, these kids have been in several foster homes and maybe won't able to ever go back to their original homes."
He said the money would go a long way in being able to serve even more children.
Rea said that with his work on the state legislative committee that serves the state board of CASA, he has seen other programs in Illinois and knows that Franklin County's is a good one.
Illinois is one of four states that do not support CASA financially, but there are currently bills in both the Senate and the House to change that. The regard that people have for CASA is seen in the fact that the two bills have more than 100 co-sponsors.
Rea stressed that the efforts in fundraising at the local level will never end, however, because it is unlikely that state funds will ever maintain the entire program.
As for Mike and Holly Brower, they are happy that they and their friends are able to donate money but say that the satisfaction of helping with programs that benefit kids is enough.
Mike Brower said that he was pleased that the money was able to benefit an organization like CASA, which helps kids in his own county.