provided to The Santiva Chronicle
Bailey’s General Store, owned and operated by the the Johnson family, proudly donated $25,000 to Charitable Foundation of the Islands on behalf of all of the generous bidders at the Waterline Wine Auction, held last spring at the now-demolished building site of Bailey’s Center.
The idea for the auction came from the wines that survived Hurricane Ian safely on the shelves of Bailey’s General Store, a year ago this September. When the hurricane-rated front doors were breached by storm surge, the wines patiently rested on the shelves as the water rose up to the top shelf and then dissipated as the storm passed. The surge left a debris waterline, hence the name of the event.
Calli Johnson, wine steward and fourth generation owner operator at Bailey’s, thought it would be an immense waste to have perfectly fine wine go with the rest of the perishable store contents. A plan was quickly hatched to “rescue” the wine and host a community event; the aptly-named Waterline Wine Auction.
Family friends Annie Campbell and Elizabeth Piersol immediately took to action while the Johnson family continued with cleanup efforts on their homes and businesses. These two women brought the Waterline Wine Auction to life, all while rebuilding their community. While they typically prefer to stay behind-the-scenes, they stepped up to ensure the success of the event as a sign of community resilience and hope when many were still beginning their recovery.
Thanks to these ladies, the Waterline Wine Auction was a great success, so much that the Johnson family insisted on forwarding that success to one of the many tireless community organizations, Charitable Foundation of the Islands. Especially fitting, since Francis P. Bailey Jr. (grandad to the fourth generation) was one of the founding members of CFI.
Mead Johnson, third generation owner operator with her husband Richard, notes, “It is of utmost importance to us to continue the legacy that first Frank, then Francis, started as one of the founding businesses of our community. The success of Bailey’s allowed us to be generous with our neighbors and it is an honor to be able to do this in such a special way once more with the Waterline Wine Auction before we are able to reopen at Bailey’s.”
The Johnson family chose CFI as the recipient because of the important leadership role taken by the organization in the post-Ian recovery phase. It has ensured those most in need were considered as recovery efforts began. The organization, led by Executive Director Dolly Farrell, stewards a variety of funding sources by communicating with local nonprofits and individuals. By sharing with CFI, the Johnson family knew they could rest assured their donation would go to a much-needed portion of island rebuilding.
The Johnson family looks forward to reopening Bailey’s and once again sharing in the generosity of the community with residents and all of the organizations that make the islands so special. Although Bailey’s Center is currently demolished, they are carefully planning the future of the center. Plans will soon be revealed to the community when appropriately timed.