STARability’s First-Ever Virtual Gala Raises $1.2 Million

Each February, STARability hosts the annual STAR Gala to raise funds for critical programs that focus on job placement, creative expression, health and community involvement. This year, due to safety concerns surrounding COVID-19, our organization moved and revamped the signature event by hosting a premier virtual fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021 called Dining for the STARs. The event was presented by Stofft Cooney Architects and co-chaired by Jennifer Haire and Rochelle Shucart.

“While we had concerns about moving from our traditional in-person event, our co-chairs, committee and supporters stepped up and made an amazing difference for the more than 300 participants that we serve. They participated in remarkable numbers and gave enthusiastically.” stated Rachael Johnston, Events & Marketing Manager. “The success of this night showed how much passion there is in Collier County and beyond for the vitally important work we do at STARability,” Johnston said.

Nearly 700 people registered for the event which was broadcasted through Harmon’s Audio Visual on our mobile bidding platform. The live broadcasted event can be viewed below.

A total of $1.2 million was raised for Dining for the STARs, including over $45,000 from the online silent auction overseen by auction co-chairs Jen Michetti and Holly Shapiro.

“Our goal was to raise $700,000 to help us continue our programs,” said STARability CEO Karen Govern. “We’re overjoyed at the outpouring of generosity and support from our donors and sponsors. We’re also very thankful to the wonderful hosts who dedicated their time and opened their homes for these dinners and decided to try something new along with us.” Govern said the organization has learned that whether it’s a virtual event or an in-person gala, when people come together as a community, much can be accomplished.

The evening included a live-stream featuring highlights from 19 dinners hosted across Collier County and videos from STARability participants speaking on their life-transforming experience being involved in our programs. Stacey Deffenbaugh of NBC2 News was the emcee and long-time supporter Rick Gallo served as auctioneer.

We’re consistently humbled by the generosity of our event sponsors, underwriters and donors. Our team at STARability sends a special thank you to the following sponsors, underwriters and dinner hosts who made this successful event possible:

Event sponsors and underwriters: Stofft Cooney Architects, Waterside Shops, Calusa Bay Design, Knauf-Koenig Group, Kurtz Homes Naples, Momentum Transportation, Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, Newbury North Associates, Structure Medical, Tina and Ralph Goldin, Maxwell Mortgage Team, Old Republic National Title Insurance Company, Premiere Systems, Rafat and Zoreen Ansari Charitable Foundation, Woods, Weidenmiller, Michetti & Rudnick, LLP, Blue Fox, Collier Enterprises, Diamond Custom Homes, FineMark National Bank & Trust, First Florida Integrity Bank, Investment Properties Corporation of Naples, Stock Development, Wynn Properties, Matthew and Laura Grabinski, U.S. Bank, AlliKristé Fine Cabinetry & Kitchen Remodeling, BCB Homes, Connor & Gaskins Unlimited, Lisa Kahn Designs, Gulf Coast International Properties, Life in Naples and Naples Illustrated

Patrons that dined for our STARs: Mike and Kelly Assaad, Ed and Allison Baker, Kevin Bush and Christa Mangiello, Chad and Natasha Commers, Carrie and John Cooney, Tim and Amy Dawson, Jeff Gargiulo and Valerie Boyd with Lynn Shoemaker and Debbi Cary, Lou and Laura Georgelos, Philip Allen and Lisa Kahn-Allen, Dr. Joseph and Merrylee Kandel, Gordon and Barbie Kellam, Tom and Laina Kennedy, Domenic and Stephanie Lucarelli, Paul and Marnette Perry with Lisa Ficarra, Chuck and Allison Rainey, Marc and Holly Shapiro with Greg and Kristen Griffin, Tom and Joan Sabatino, Tim and Stephanie Savage with Vicki Tracy and Joe and Mary Smallwood

Extended thanks to our production team: Harmon’s Audio Visual, Manta Films, Pzazz Productions, The Naples Studio and Hamilton Harbor Yacht Club

If you missed our 2021 Dining for the STARs virtual event or any portion of it, the event is now available for viewing here. Click here to view our Facebook album and click here to view the sizzle reel!