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SWFL Children’s Charities Inc., organizer of the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, presented a generous gift of $100,000 to the School of Health Professions at Florida SouthWestern State College.

The gift, which will directly benefit the college by providing new technology and student scholarships, was presented by SWFL Children’s Charities trustees and event co-chairs Elaine Hawkins and Dorothy Fitzgerald from the nonprofit organization on Aug. 7.

“The FSW Foundation is committed to strengthening educational programs that support our local economy by soliciting investment opportunities for new technology that better prepare our graduates,” said Dr. Louis J. Traina, vice president of institutional advancement at FSW. “It’s the support from local foundations like the SWFL Children’s Charities that makes it all possible.”

“Students who graduate from the School of Health Professions are part of the driving force of our local economy, not only providing vital services to the public but choosing to live and raise families here in Southwest Florida,”said Dr. Jeff Allbritten, president of FSW. “With this generous gift from the SWFL Children’s Charities, we will continue to ensure that graduates are highly skilled when they step foot into this growing job market.”

The gift came at an opportune moment as FSW invests in new technology to keep nursing education cutting edge while also satisfying recent state legislation that permits an increase in the total clinical training that can be achieved through simulation, from 25 to 50 percent.

“We like to give to organizations that make a difference in our community,” said Hawkins. “Seeing the enthusiasm for the new technology and how it benefits our community is what motivates the Wine Fest trustees to keep giving year after year.”

The FSW School of Health Professions offers two bachelor’s degrees, 11 associate’s degrees, and six certificate programs, preparing local students with the credentials to work in nearly every health-related field.

Dr. Marie Collins, dean of the School of Health Professions, said that the gift from SWFL Children’s Charities will support nursing, respiratory care and dental hygiene clinical education in the areas of pediatric and obstetric care. The college will specifically use the gift to invest in:

  • Scholarships for nursing, respiratory care and dental hygiene students
  • A birthing mother and newborn simulator
  • A pediatric simulator
  • A mechanical ventilator for skills practice on pediatric patients
  • A panograph X-ray machine for pediatric patients treated at the Dental Hygiene Clinic

“Clinical and lab fees are necessary to support the complex needs of health professions programs. These fees quickly add up. Scholarships are critical for our students so they can focus less on the financial aspects and focus more on obtaining the highest level of clinical competency and experiences.” said Collins.

According to Collins, simulations at FSW ensure that every student receives an equal and consistent educational experience.

“We all benefit from health care and education,”added Fitzgerald. “They are the fundamentals of any great community.”

“Through the use of simulation education, we can guarantee that every student has equal experiences with medical scenarios such as complications which may occur during and immediately after birth. These simulated scenarios may be repeated over and over again to allow students to gain the skills and confidence needed for optimal real world patient care.”

Over the last six years, SWFL Children’s Charities has raised more than $11.6 million in donations to benefit only three local charities serving children: The Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, the Music Therapy Program at Florida Gulf Coast University and the Pediatric Nursing Program at Florida SouthWestern State College.

Florida SouthWestern State College is Southwest Florida’s largest and one of the most affordable institutions of higher education. Annually serving more than 22,000 students globally, FSW offers a variety of nationally ranked, career-focused academic programs with two- and four-year degrees, and professional certifications. Students are also active in clubs and programs catered to their interests. FSW will debut its intercollegiate athletics program in the fall 2015. Visit for more information.

SWFL Children’s Charities Inc. is a nonprofit organization that provides funding to local children’s causes through its two-day signature event, the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest. The 2015 event is slated for Feb. 27 and 28. For additional information, visit