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Photography by Nick Koon

The Wooden Floor, a Santa Ana arts-based youth development organization, hosted its 6th Annual Keep the Promise Wine Tasting Benefit on Thursday, September 27, 2012, at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach. The sold-out event welcomed over 275 Orange County community supporters and wine enthusiasts to raise funds to keep The Wooden Floor’s promise to see its students through a 10-year journey from elementary school on to higher education. Guests tasted a selection of 12 highly-rated, hard-to-find wines from the Oregon and California coasts, each hand-selected and graciously donated by Benefit Co-Chairs and Premier Sponsors John and Janice Markley.

The event netted over $200,000 for The Wooden Floor’s award-winning dance, academic, and family services – a 25 percent increase from the previous year. Additional post-event gifts are still being received. Private community support accounts for 90 percent of The Wooden Floor’s funding, and enables its year-round programs to be offered free of charge to the majority of its 375 low-income students.

Silent and live auctions highlighted the evening, including a $6,000 winning bid for a 2009 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir magnum donated by Sonoma vintner Dan Kosta. In addition to being introduced to spectacular wines, event attendees gained a deeper knowledge of The Wooden Floor’s 29-year old mission and tremendous outcomes.

Guests enjoyed the YouTube award-winning film on The Wooden Floor titled “From Here, You Can Step Anywhere” followed by remarks from Chairman of the Board of Directors, Ernesto Vasquez, Executive Director & Co-CEO Dawn S. Reese, Artistic Director & Co-CEO Melanie Ríos Glaser, and Premier Sponsor John Markley. Most notably, Esai Alvarez, a member of The Wooden Floor’s Class of 2013, spoke about pursuing his goal of higher education to someday become a surgeon. Since 2005, 100 percent of graduates from The Wooden Floor have completed high school on time and enrolled in college, outperforming their socioeconomic peers three-fold.

Founded in 1983, The Wooden Floor is a Santa Ana based after-school organization that delivers hope and opportunity to 375 low-income youth annually. Dance education and performance are the core transformational elements through which youth change the way they think about themselves and aspire beyond the grip of the poverty cycle. In the dance studio, rigorous training, creativity, and self-knowledge lead to confidence, leadership, teamwork, well-being, and joy. Academic programs, pre-collegiate mentoring, and college scholarships ensure that students succeed in school and are college-ready.

Since 2005, 100 percent of graduates from The Wooden Floor have enrolled in college, exceeding the national average for their peers threefold. Family Services at The Wooden Floor, including counseling, crisis intervention, and social service referrals, help families overcome hardships and navigate challenges. Community support enables these year-round programs to be offered free of charge. Bringing about generational change to break the cycle of poverty in our community is the long-term goal of The Wooden Floor.