Auction Item Leads Local Couple on a Charitable Journey
When the Armentors went on an African safari vacation in October, they didn’t expect it to turn into a humanitarian aid trip to help an impoverished village. But for the Armentors, charity is just a way of life no matter where they are in the world.
The trip was an auction lot item that went for $36,000 at the Eighth Annual DCWAF (Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation)’s weekend of festivities in August that attracted more than 450 wine enthusiasts, foodies and celebrity vintners to enjoy patron dinners and a live auction. Funds raised benefit the foundation’s 14 children’s charities serving more than 50,000 youth in Northwest Florida. According to DCWAF President John Russell, last year’s event raised more than $1.375 million and a total of $6 million since the foundation’s inception in 2005.
Serial philanthropists and DCWAF board members Dana, 46, and Glenn Armentor, 63, work tirelessly and donate generously for underprivileged children in Lafayette, La., where they work full time at their law firm, and at their second home in Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort’s Burnt Pines community, where they vacation with their two children. Winning the seven-night stay at the Islands of Siankaba in Zambia along with another couple gave the Armentors a chance to get away from their busy schedules to view endangered wildlife, explore the Victoria Falls and savor South Africa’s wine country. While at the lodge enjoying gourmet meals and spa treatments, Dana decided to venture off the beaten path and visit the remote village nearby. What she saw touched her heart.
Villagers live in immaculate, small mud huts and wash their clothes daily with the water they carry in jugs on their heads from the Zambezi River, where alligators lurk and kill villagers regularly, Dana said.
“I’ve never seen poverty like this, but I’ve also never seen pride like this,” she said.
Children walk several miles every day with no shoes and blistered feet excited to attend school, which is a concrete slab with a tin roof, where they learn English. What is meager by Western standards is cherished by the villagers who crave education and a better way of life, Dana added.
Eager to help others help themselves, the Armentors fell in love with the people of Siankaba and spent the rest of their trip immersed in the village, buying the 60 school children shoes, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Dental care is now part of the curriculum, and they are committed indefinitely to help the teachers with the resources they need to grow.
“If one person reaches out and provides one opportunity, it’s amazing how many lives you can change,” Dana said.
The lodge also invests in the village by providing children with uniforms, sponsoring education and income for the teachers and training villagers to work at the lodge so risking their life fishing is no longer the only occupation.
When Russell saw pictures of Dana and Glenn with the villagers, he was awestruck by their charity.
“I am used to being around generous people, but for the Armentors to go to Africa and carry that ‘how can we help’ attitude is really, to me, humbling and inspiring,” he said.
Thanks to this village, traveling for the Armentors will never be the same.
“This changed everything for me; it changed the reason why I will be traveling,” Dana said. “It opened a whole new door for me.”
Attendees to the DCWAF’s 9th annual signature weekend event slated for April 25–27 will have the opportunity to bid on this auction lot at a live event on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Grand Boulevard and continue in the Armentors’ charitable footsteps.
For details on the event see our Calendar listing in the Happenings section.