COLLIER COUNTY, Fla -- Each year, the Naples Winter Wine Festival raises millions of dollars to help children in Collier County. In 2012, the Winter Wine Festival raise $12.2 million.
One of the many non-profits benefiting from the funds is the David Lawrence Center. The non-profit mental health center received a $200,000 grant to help kids in Collier County battle mental illness.
Laura Pais knows first hand how important it is to treat children with mental illness at an early age. "I've gotten the help I need in the past two years with my son. I saw tremendous change within a couple of months of him being treated."
Laura's 13 year old son Matthew suffers from depression. For two years he has used family therapy and in school services through the David Lawrence Center.
Pais says, "I'm very grateful this program has come along and is helping me and other families as well."
Every year, the center treats thousands of kids with mental illness. "The need in the community is pretty significant," says David Lawrence Center CEO David Schimmel.
For the past three years, the Naples Children and Education Foundation has sponsored a children's mental health initiative to help kids in Collier County, specifically at the David Lawrence Center.
This year, thanks to funds raised at the Winter Wine Festival, a $200,000 grant will allow the center to expand those services and offer help to 40 under privilaged kids.
"They don't have any way to get help and that's what Naples Children and Education Foundation focuses on, kids who are indigent and wouldn't get help if they didn't step up to the plate and find support," says Schimmel.
Employees screen kids at elementary schools trying to catch those with mental illness as soon as possible. "It's critical. Pretty much all studies that have been done indicate that for every dollar invested in a child at a young age, we're going to save $9-$10 down the road in cost to society," says Schimmel.
"David Lawrence to me, has basically been my salvation," said Pais.