International Academy East’s Key Club will be among the beneficiaries of money collected by a Kiwanis Club of Troy fundraiser on Thursday, May 18.

International Academy East’s Key Club will be among the beneficiaries of money collected by a Kiwanis Club of Troy fundraiser on Thursday, May 18.

Photo provided by Whitney Bernstein

Wine tasting fundraiser returns to Troy

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published May 2, 2023


TROY — The Kiwanis Club of Troy is inviting the public to join them for a wine tasting fundraiser to help support several nonprofit organizations in the community.

Vicki Cerven-Astell, the president of the Kiwanis Club of Troy, said that the fundraiser will be aiding some very worthy groups this year, and she hopes people consider attending or donating.

“The fundraiser will be on Thursday, May 18, at the Troy Historic Village. The fundraising will benefit and supply funds to local schools for mental health activities and events,” Cerven-Astell said. “We held three this past year, and we would like to do more. One of our key initiatives this year is to have a mural artist create some positive murals in the International Academy East high school. We have a Wayne State graduate student who will put together some designs. The other two charities are Haven of Pontiac, which focuses on children and victims of sexual assault and physical abuse. The Jenna Kast Believe in Miracles Foundations is the third. They are local in Troy and they support children going through cancer.”

This is the first year the Kiwanis Club has hosted such a fundraiser since the pandemic.

“We did the wine tastings pre-pandemic, but this is our first one since then,” said Cerven-Astell. “We did it last time in 2019. Now it is outside with an inclination with people who still don’t want to go into a tightly packed restaurant. We will have at least six restaurants providing food, and Manny’s Liquor providing drinks.”

The Jenna Kast Believe in Miracles Foundation was named in honor of Jenna Kast, who died from cancer in 2005, and is run by her mother, Paula Kast.

“We grant wishes for kids with a life-threatening illness in Michigan, so we serve kids throughout Michigan but primarily in this area in metro Detroit,” said Paula Kast. “We want kids to experience some joy and get some respite from their battle with their illness. We have been doing it in memory of our daughter Jenna since 2005.”

She encouraged others to attend the fundraiser and chip in.

“We like working with Kiwanis Club because they do so much good in the community,” Paula Kast said. “You wouldn’t regret being a part of this fundraiser. It’s a fun way to enjoy an evening while doing some good. We are grateful to be a part of it and spread awareness of our Wish Kids.”

Whitney Bernstein is the counselor at International Academy’s East Campus in Troy. She said the fundraiser is a great way to support local initiatives.

“All of the funds at the fundraiser will go to Kiwanis,” she said. “They work with International Academy but also the Key Club at Athens High School. It will support our school groups as well as great nonprofits such as Haven and some local animal shelters.”

She said the mural project is a great way to engage students in the effort to fight teen suicide and raise awareness of mental health needs in young people.

“I am the advisor for the Key Club, which is the high school version of Kiwanis,” said Bernstein. “They have a mental health initiative this year to support students with mental health (issues) and one of the projects they are funding for us. A Wayne State grad student is coming in to paint a mural after meeting with students to decide what the mural will consist of. It’s partially to brighten up the building, and by getting student input, the theme will be focused on raising spirits and promoting mental health.”

Cerven-Astell said that the effort to raise awareness of mental health issues and teen suicide is particularly important to her and one she thinks needs to be addressed far more in the community.

“Help our youth in the community with mental health and other youth initiatives, which are directly impacting local youth in our community. We are providing direct support to them,” she said. “Suicide is one of the leading issues in our community where kids from 18 to 24 in age are particularly at risk. … These funds will go toward counseling, giving young people new resources, helping groups like Haven, which provide them a place to go if they leave their home, and helping children through the very tough process of cancer at a young age.”

The organizers are hoping for strong attendance so as many people in the community can be helped as possible.

“This is a great cause. It’s helping our youth and building up the people who are our future,” Cerven-Astell said.