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Salt Creek Grille's 17th Annual Wine and Martini Tasting Fundraiser to Benefit CASA of Monmouth County

originally published: 04/06/2023

Salt Creek Grille

(RUMSON, NJ) --  Salt Creek Grille's 17th Annual Wine and Martini Tasting Fundraiser benefiting CASA of Monmouth County - originally scheduled for April 2020 when Covid-19 shut businesses down - will be held Thursday, April 27, 2023 from 7:00pm-10:00pm. As in all past Wine & Martini Tasting Fundraisers, 100 percent of the proceeds from the night’s events will go directly to CASA of Monmouth County.

Bill Spadea, a host of the morning drive show on New Jersey 101.5 FM and Chasing News for Fox Television in New York and Philly, is the event’s emcee and auctioneer.

Sadly, CASA’s founder and executive director Cindi Van Brunt of CASA, succumbed to her six-year battle with ovarian cancer last Fall. She was named the honoree for the event.

Salt Creek Grille

First Row: Cindi Van Brunt, former Executive Director and Founder of CASA, now deceased; Steve Bidgood, Co-owner, of Salt Creek Grille; Thomas Sannelli, Board Vice President; Mark Shopene, General Manager, Salt Creek Grille; Lauren Waldman, Previous Director of Program Services, CASA. Second Row: Randall Paulikens, CASA Board Member, Past VP; Steve Seneca, CASA Board President; Nathan Florio, CASA Board Member; Tony Shay, CASA Past Board President; Joe Mays, former Assistant Manager, Salt Creek Grille. Photo credit: CASA, photo taken February 2020 at Salt Creek Grille.

CASA trains and provides volunteer advocates for children who have been removed from their unsafe homes due to abuse and/or neglect. The advocates are the children’s voice while they navigate through complicated and lengthy legal processes while in foster care and searching for safe, loving “forever” homes.

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“CASA and the Board will honor our founder, Cindi, who passed away in November 2022,” explained Marielaina LaRosa, CASA’s director of community development. “Cindi gave her whole heart to CASA, the foster children of Monmouth County, and our office for 18 years. She never let her illness define her. Senator O’Scanlon of Legislative District 13 will be presenting Cindi’s husband Jason and their sons with a Proclamation from the State of NJ at the event.”

CASA volunteers are sometimes the only consistent adult figure in a child’s life, remaining present through all the trauma and chaos they experience on their road to a permanent home, said LaRosa. And, like so many Monmouth County charities, Covid-19 safety measures seriously disrupted their fundraising efforts.

“CASA was unable to hold three of our annual galas, which are our biggest fundraising events,” said LaRosa. “We need these dollars to successfully promote, train, and support our volunteer advocates to help assure each child in foster care has a safe, permanent, and nurturing home. Our children’s lives were even more disrupted, and they were at greater risk of neglect with the world being shut down. But thankfully, we were creative in our efforts and our volunteers were still able to ensure that these children were continuing to get the support and services they needed throughout the pandemic.”

Salt Creek Grille

As in the past, ticket holders to the popular Salt Creek Grille Wine and Martini Tasting fundraiser will enjoy heavy-hors d’oeuvres, pasta, and carving stations donated by Salt Creek Grille and a raw bar donated by Lusty Lobster. To taste, there are nearly 100 different wine varietals and several distilled spirits – including Tilley’s Vodka - donated by Salt Creek’s generous and loyal vendors who have supported co-owner Steve Bidgood’s past philanthropic events. A live auction will be held. The Bobby Boyd Trio provides live entertainment for the event. As with all his fundraisers previous, 100 percent of the proceeds from the night’s events will go directly to CASA of Monmouth County.

“My team and I have raised over $1 million for local charities serving children’s needs through our Annual Anniversary Wine & Martini Tasting Fundraiser,” said Steve Bidgood, co-owner of Salt Creek Grille. “But this one is truly heartbreaking. We worked closely with Cindi and her team through all the planning phases and were just one month away from holding our 17th for CASA when Covid-19 struck. Cindi was so passionate about her mission and a terrific member of our community. We know she’ll be smiling down on us as we finally make this happen in her honor.”

Tickets are sold out, but ads for the journal are still available. For details contact Marielaina LaRosa at 732-460-9100 ext. 1015 or email

CASA - Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children - is a network of 951 community-based programs across the country that recruit and train and support citizen-volunteers while they advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in courtrooms and communities. Volunteer advocates—empowered directly by the courts—offer judges the critical information they need to ensure that each child’s rights and needs are being attended to while in foster care.

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Salt Creek Grille is located at 4 Bingham Avenue in Rumson, New Jersey.



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