Wine festival will benefit mentally ill

Friday, May 6, 2011
Volunteers set up for the 10th annual Community Benefit Wine Festival at the Bavarian Halle in Jackson. The festival is Friday, May 6, 2011, and benefits the Community Counseling Center Foundation. (Kristin Eberts)

Tasting wines from all of Missouri winemakers could take days if not weeks, but a dozen Southeast Missouri wineries will be under one roof at the Bavarian Halle today, offering samples to help meet the needs of the area's mentally ill.

The 10th annual Community Benefit Wine Festival -- complete with hors d'oeuvres, Motown music, door prizes and, of course, wine -- benefits the Community Counseling Center Foundation. The foundation helps fund the not-for-profit Community Counseling Center, which provides comprehensive mental health services in five Southeast Missouri counties.

"It gives people a chance to be able to talk about the services we provide in treating mental illness without having the stigma of mental illness interfering," said Tim Schwent, the center's director of administration and finance. "We hope everybody comes out and has a good time at the festival. That's the reason we have it."

The event, scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m., typically draws some 500 attendees. This year's crowd can expect a less congested line when they arrive. In the past, attendees filled out a card used for door prize drawings while waiting in line to enter. Now, they'll be able to turn in the card at a table inside.

"It just makes more sense. Everybody was standing and trying to fill them out at the door before," said Larry Essner, executive director for the foundation. "This should speed it up a lot to keep the line down."

Volunteer Holly Schneider puts together candle centerpieces while setting up for the 10th annual Community Benefit Wine Festival at the Bavarian Halle in Jackson. The festival is Friday, May 6, 2011, and benefits the Community Counseling Center Foundation. (Kristin Eberts)

New to the winery roster are The Barrens Winery, Tower Rock Vineyard & Winery and Hunter Valley Winery. The festival will have live music by Pat Schwent and SJ Motown Six, and hors d'oeuvres donated by 35 restaurants.

The event is one of three annual fundraisers for the foundation. The need for funding is as strong as ever, as the Missouri Department of Mental Health deals with cutbacks by privatizing some of its operations, Tim Schwent said. As a result, the Community Counseling Center is treating additional people.

While the center is funded through fees to the patients, many of those bills are paid by Medicaid.

"Those are funded at a pretty sparse rate," he said. "So what our foundation does for us ... is provide capital purchases to help us meet the needs of our mentally ill population."

Funding from the foundation has been put toward everything from phone systems to copiers to a soon-to-be-constructed 10-unit apartment complex for mentally ill people who are permanently disabled. Groundbreaking for the Cape Girardeau complex will be this summer.

Through several locations, the center serves Cape Girardeau, Bollinger, Madison, Perry and Ste. Genevieve counties. The center offers mental health services, including individual, marriage and family counseling; psychiatric services; and a group home that helps people transition from hospital stays to living on their own.

Tickets to the festival are $40 at the door or $35 in advance at Community Counseling Center offices and Bank of Missouri, US Bank and Capaha Bank locations.

Pertinent Address:

402 Silver Springs Road, Cape Girardeau, MO

225 Drury Lane, Jackson, MO

3427 William St., Cape Girardeau, MO

1622 N. Kingshighway, Cape Girardeau, MO

372 S. Kingshighway, Cape Girardeau, MO

325 N. Kingshighway, Cape Girardeau, MO

3168 William St., Cape Girardeau, MO

380 N. Kingshighway, Cape Girardeau, MO

727 W. Main St., Jackson, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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