Forever is Forever at Friends of Foster Children Forever

The word forever is not taken lightly at Friends of Foster Children Forever (FFCF).

Many foster children don’t have a consistent positive person in their life and that is one reason FFCF is making sure they have a friend and an academic mentor.

Celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, FFCF is more determined than ever to make sure these children are on a path to academic success. They served 433 children at their last back to school event by providing backpacks, uniforms, haircuts, shoes, vision and dental screenings; they enrolled 205 foster children ages 0-5 into early learning centers, connecting them to more than $650,000 in state funded childcare; and provided 220 children with one-on-one academic mentoring which improved their test scores, helping them advance to the next grade level.

In the last academic year, FFCF was able to serve more than 1,110 local foster children. As a child ages out of the foster care system, they are often on their own with little or no support.

FFCF implemented a “Fostering Transitions”program to address this underserved group of children. As a friend forever, FFCF is helping to bridge the gap.

Their mission is to focus on the children they serve by providing targeted educational and enrichment opportunities that allow each child to fulfill his or her potential. FFCF works to fulfill the unmet needs of every child who enters or is at risk of entering the foster care system in Collier, Hendry and Glades Counties.

To help fund the much-needed programs, FFCF holds several fundraisers throughout the year.

THIRD ON CANVAS
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2019
5:00 – 8:00 PM
NAPLES BEACH HOTEL

12TH ANNUAL BOOGIE BASH – ROAR INTO THE 20’S WITH GATSBY
FRIDAY, MARCH 22, 2019
6:00 – 10:30 PM
GREY OAKS COUNTRY CLUB

3RD ANNUAL SUNSHINE 5K
SATURDAY, APRIL 27, 2019
7:30 AM
COLLIER COUNTY
PUBLIC SCHOOLS ADMINISTRATION CENTER

For more information about Friends of Foster Children of Forever (FFCF) or for events, visit www.friendsoffosterchildren.net or call 239.262.1808.

Columbine Survivor to speak at David Lawrence Center event

Columbine shooting survivor Austin Eubanks will be the keynote speaker during the David Lawrence Center’s 6th Annual Sound Minds™ Mental Health Symposium on March 23, 2019 at Moorings Presbyterian Church (791 HarbourDr, Naples).

The symposium will be held from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. and will be followed by a VIP Meet the Speaker luncheon that will include live music. The symposium will feature keynote speaker Austin Eubanks, an injured survivor of the Columbine shooting and an expert in the addiction treatment industry.

Eubanks’ traumatic experience as a teen was the catalyst to his painful, decade-long journey through addiction. The symposium will conclude with a moderated Q & A with Eubanks. CEUs are available for Florida state licensed nurses and clinicians (LMHC, LCSW, and LMFT).

Eubanks said, “Less than an hour after scrambling out the back door of the Columbine High School library, I was lying in a hospital bed, medicated on a variety of substances intended to relieve my pain.”

Now in long-term recovery, Eubanks has devoted his career to helping those who have turned to substances as a result of trauma. Eubanks will share with attendees his personal journey as well as strategies for addressing the issues of substance abuse plaguing the nation.

Eubanks adds, “We have to reform a broken healthcare system that is slowly coming to terms with the fact that they are responsible for this pandemic. I had to learn to lean into the pain and stop looking for the fast road to relief. We have to teach people to do the emotional work needed no matter how much it hurts.”

S A V E – T H E – D A T E

Sound Minds Mental Health Symposium
March 23, 2019
Moorings Presbyterian Church

Austin Eubanks is an expert in the addiction treatment industry and a nationally recognized speaker and media contributor on topics surrounding behavioral health and addiction recovery. He is the Chief Operations Officer for Foundry Treatment Center. In his non-profit board roles, Austin helps advance the objectives of Stout Street Foundation, a 180-bed therapeutic community serving primarily an indigent population, and 5280 High School, a 400-student Denver Public Charter School focused on prevention and addiction recovery in adolescents.
Ticket and Sponsorship Information
There is a $10 suggested donation per
person for the symposium.
The cost for the VIP Meet the Speaker
Lunch is $125.
For sponsorship and ticket information, visit DLCSoundMinds.org

or contact DLC at 239-354-1445 or donorcare@dlcmhc.com.

Baskets Abound

Dusty Holmes was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan where she remained until she became engaged to JB Holmes and moved to Maryland.

Life being funny like it is they ended the engagement and both went their separate ways. Dusty, an RN, had the opportunity to work in several states broadening her perspective and life experience. She enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 29 and served from 1980 to 1984. Her love for nursing and people in general, served her well as she thrived as an ICU nurse at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.

After retiring from the military she moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico continuing her nursing career and thought that she had found her “forever home,” but then life had another interesting twist. She reconnected with JB after a pause of 35 years and found that they were still “the same” and the spark was reunited, marriage followed.

She retired her nursing cap when she married Dr. JB Holmes, also a Veteran, and moved to Naples Florida in 2007.

With nursing behind her she found a hobby that became her passion, creative arts.

Dusty began working in stoneware clay in 2008. She maintained a pottery studio in conjunction with the Bonita Springs Art League for several years. That is where she met master weaver Georgia Hortin. Georgia had been weaving pine needles since 1954 and was eager to pass on the almost lost art form.

Dusty studied under Georgia for seven years until Georgia passed away at the age of 99 in 2017.

The Seminole Indians of south Florida made baskets out of pine needles long before they made pottery. Their baskets were made out of necessity and used for utilitarian purposes. They would carry water, winnow seeds, dry meats and even cook in their baskets.

Current day baskets are made to enhance form and function. Dusty has puta unique twist into making her baskets. She uses a variety of found and or made objects to enhance her baskets. Each basket is a unique one-of-a-kind piece of functional art.

Dusty weaves pine needles around her hand made pottery pieces, around vintage jewelry, around pieces of driftwood or animal horn, around seashells: the list is endless.

Dusty is an exhibiting member of the Naples Art Crafters and can be found selling her baskets the second Saturday of the month, in season, at Cambier Park.

Her baskets are also for sale at Myxn Scents at Bayfront and at Made to Inspire in Boca Grande, Florida.

Dusty sits on the Board of Directors of the Naples Art Crafters, is a member of the Emeritus Basketeers, the United Arts Council of Collier County and the Potters Council. Both Dusty and JB are involved in most Veterans affairs here in Collier, both willing to help when and where needed. Her website is www.dustyholmes.com)

HODGES HELPS STUDENTS MAKE A PERSONAL INVESTMENT IN THEIR FUTURE

by Nicole Roe

For 15 years, Jody Watts raised her children alongside her husband while managing the books for their construction company. Now, as a single mother of three, she is working full time in hospitality to support her family. After attempting school years prior, only to be told to put her dream of becoming a nurse on hold to take care of her children, she is currently enrolled at Hodges University.

Watts is pursuing an associate degree with plans to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree at Hodges.

“In the beginning I thought that if I got my foot in the door at the Ritz, I could move my way up, but not having a college education puts a damper on being able to advance. I know I have so much more to offer,” she said.

The decision to go back to school is not always easy. Nontraditional students must consider how school will impact their work schedule and time spent with family. These students also weigh the investment needed to go to college versus the rewards of earning a degree.

Currently, 78 percent of Hodges’ students are receiving some level of financial assistance, which includes federal, state or institutional aid. Of the students who are considered nontraditional (25 years or older), 81 percent are receiving financial assistance.

Hodges also offers students the opportunity to apply for federal and state grants such as the Pell Grant and Effective Access to Student Education (EASE) Grant. Merit- and Need-Based scholarships are also available to students who meet certain criteria.Although student loan debt continues to be one of the biggest deterrents of going back to school, the personal investment and opportunity to improve one’s quality of life often give many adults the justification needed to enroll.

Not only is earning a college degree a personal investment in oneself, but it enables individuals like Watts to pursue a desired career, earn more money, and as studies show, live a happier life.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in 2017 for individuals 25 years or older with a bachelor’s degree was 2.5 percent compared to those with only a high school diploma at 4.6 percent.

The median weekly earnings for someone with a bachelor’s degree was $1,173 versus $712 with a high school diploma.

For Watts, devoting a few years to school to ultimately have a schedule that is conducive to her needs and a substantial income makes the cost of going to school worth the investment. Her co-workers call her “mom” because of her nurturing and caring demeanor. She is always looking to take care of others in need and looks forward to becoming a nurse.

Watts knew the school work wasn’t going to be the only difficulty she faced. Finding the money to go to school presented its challenges, especially when trying to take care of three children on her own.

Hodges’ Director of Admissions, Erlis Abazi, helped Watts discover how she could fund her college education.

“If it wasn’t for him [Erlis], I probably wouldn’t have enrolled back in school,” she said. “He sold Hodges to me.”

After completing her FAFSA, Watts received federal student aid in addition to four individual grants. Although student loan payments will be part of her future, her desire to make something of herself and become a nurse far outweigh the financial impact. With her degree, she knows she will have a higher earning power and an in-demand career.

She views her decision to return to school as an opportunity to not only better herself but to also set a good example for her children.

“I want to show my kids that you can do anything, at anytime. I want them to be proud of me, and see the value of an education,” she said.

The Naples Bay Resort Where Cabaret Has Arrived in Naples

by Claudia Dal Lago

Billy Joel, Elton John, The Eagles, Journey, Neil Diamond and the Rat Pack.

These are just a few classic favorites playing as part of the Naples Bay Resort’s Tribute Nights at The Pointe starting on Sunday February 10, 2019.

Kicking off their 2nd Annual Tribute Nights at The Pointe, the Naples Bay Resort – a luxury 4 Diamond waterfront boutique style resort located minutes from Downtown Naples – has brought back their one-of-a-kind music experience on the heels of their success in 2018.

The live concert series will be held at the beautiful, and unique intimate waterfront hotel venue, The Pointe and will run through Sunday, April 28, 2019.

“After an extremely successful 2018 series, with all concerts sold out, we are excited to bring the events back to the Southwest Florida community in 2019,” said Paul Ditheridge, Director of Marketing, Naples Bay Resort.

“The tribute concerts are a great value and held in a beautiful cabaret-style venue with round tables, and food and drink service available during the event. We are looking forward to another fantastic season.”

Reminiscent of the 19th century Parisian cabarets where musicians performed in an intimate atmosphere over cocktails, wine and food, the Tribute Nights at The Pointe will bring this experience to life.

Guests will be seated in communal, cozy round tables of eight people with the performers a few mere feet from the audience. Chef William Conroy and his team at the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, 1500 South, will be offering their bar menu of elevated comfort food with an Italian flair.

In addition to having two bar stations, servers will be available throughout the event serving signature cocktails, wine from a robust list and a variety of beers. Chef William will also prepare a special 2-course pre-concert prix fixe menu from 4pm until 6pm at his restaurant adjacent to The Pointe.

Dinner and concert tickets will be available as a package for $75 per person. Concert tickets alone are priced at $40.00.

Tribute Nights at The Pointe will kick off with a Billy Joel tribute on Sunday, February 10. Guests can expect all of the hits from Piano Manto Uptown Girl and everything in between played by a 7-piece band. The doors will open at 5:30 pm with the concerts starting at 6 pm.

The Naples Bay Resort is in the midst of planning other “creative” experiences for the local musicians and artists as well as kids and adults in our community. We can’t wait to find out what’s in store.

For more information and to purchase tickets for the Tribute Nights at the Pointe, guests can visit www.NaplesBayResort.com/concerts

Concert Lineup

Sunday, February 10 – Billy Joel (Piano Man)
• Sunday, February 17 – Neil Diamond &
Barry Manilow (Brooklyn Boys)
• Sunday, February 24 – Bee Gees
(Stayin’ Alive)
• Sunday, March 3rd – Frank Sinatra
& Dean Martin (Frank and Dean)
• Sunday March 10th – Journey & Bon Jovi
(Titans of Rock)
• Sunday March 24th – Blues Bros./
Tina Turner (Rock & Soul Revue)
• Sunday, March 31st – The Eagles
(Alter Eagles)
• Sunday, April 7th – Fleetwood Mac
(Fleetwood Max)
• Friday, April 12th – Elton John
(Absolute Elton)
• Sunday, April 28th – Jimmy Buffet
(Caribbean Chillers)

Cars on 5th

The ‘Cars on 5th’ show is also about helping the community and giving to those in need. Donations from the attendees and individual contributions to our featured charities have raised over $1,100,000 over the past 14 years.

St. Matthew’s House, which gathers contributions of food and clothing, the proceeds from which help operate food pantries and shelters to care for the homeless and hungry of our community. Structured recovery programs are also undertaken.

The 2019 show will be held on February 9th. Our sponsors include Ferrari of Fort Lauderdale, Seminole Casino, Bank of America, Tire Choice, Naples Bentley-Porsche, Naples Motorsports, Mercedes Benz of Naples, Gulf Coast Motorworks and more.

The dealers will once again bring a fine selection of exotic and classic cars, adding to the hundreds of enthusiast-owned entries that will fill Fifth Avenue in February. And of course, over 125 Ferraris will be on display with a fine mix of vintage and current V-8s and V-12s from Maranello that are guaranteed to please the crowds.

We expect to have several new 488 GTBs and Spiders on display.

The British contingent will include Jaguar, Lotus, Triumph, Aston Martin and the stately Bentleys. Porsches will be plentiful including some rare race cars. American cars will not be overshadowed, with over 60 Corvettes and other muscle cars expected. The Mercato section of the show will be bigger than ever with a multitude of businesses.

Artists, jewelers, and automotive services, and accessory suppliers will be on hand to serve the thousands of potential clients at the show.

To conclude the show all car owners will start their cars at 4 PM sharp for a resounding Drive-Off by over 575 cars. It is a fitting sendoff for what is to be another successful ‘Cars on 5th’ here in Naples.

The Ferrari Club of America is the largest Ferrari club in the world with over 6,500 members that benefit from its activities, events and enthusiast camaraderie. www.ferrariclubofamerica.org

The Naples Chapter of the Ferrari Club of America is proud to announce that we raised nearly $250,000 again this year for St. Matthew’s House.

The 2018 show broke all previous attendance records, and with over 575 private entries and dealer cars, the displays on the street were outstanding. Rarely can such a superb collection of exotics and collector cars be found in one location, and there were plenty of enthusiasts on hand to enjoy the show.

The attendance estimates numbered over 50,000, and there was lots to see and enjoy in the lovely Naples weather.

For more information, email tomo@toriordan.com. Tickets for this year’sshow are $20 and all collections from ticket sales go to St. Matthew’s House.

Art After Dark January 2019

Here we go into the new year, 2019!

There are a lot of new things happening in Naples, but it might be nice to take in some of the “old” things going on in Naples.

Old Naples is full of fun events and things to do throughout the month. Third Street South is featuring their popular events like ”Thursdays on Third” and “Farmer’s Markets” on Saturday mornings while Fifth Avenue South offers “Evening On Fifth” and an outdoor Art Show the first weekend this month.

Crayton Cove is a charming area on Naples Bay where you can stroll on the City Dock, eat a casual meal at Napoli On The Bay or Cove Inn Café or a fine meal at The Dock Restaurant, Chet Boët or Bleu Provence.

Fisher, Seaside Vigilance

Unique shops like Naples Ships Store carries a variety of fun maritime items and galleries like Random Acts of Art, carries American made three-dimensional fine crafts, Phil Fisher Gallery/Studio and Guess-Fisher Gallery offer fine artwork created by Phil Fisher, Natalie Guess and a handful of other professional artists.

Phil Fisher Gallery, 810 12th Ave. S., is featuring a palette knife painting demonstration in oils by Jan Ellen Atkielki on Wednesday January 23rd from 2 to 5 pm. The public is invited.

Saturday January 12th from 6 to 9 pm, the Galleries of Crayton Cove are hosting their monthly event, “Art After Dark”, where the public is invited to come and enjoy an evening of art and live music by “Michael Colligan & Friends” while viewing the newest works of art. Located where 8th St. S. & 12th Ave. S. meet at the flagpole by the Bay. www.GalleriesOfCraytonCove.com

Programs, Tours and Events at Rookery January 2019

NEW!

Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center Hosts Science Saturdays Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center welcomes the entire family on Science Saturdays, 9 am to 4 pm, through April.

Kids and grownups alike can explore and discover the plants, fish and wildlife that call Rookery Bay Research Reserve’s 110,000 acres home.

Science Saturdays is a fun way to learn about environmental science and the natural world through actual hands-on experience with marine life touch tanks, exhibits and scientific displays.

Rookery Bay Naturalist Guided Boat and Kayak Tours Experience the nature of Rookery Bay Research Reserve up-close and personal with one of our naturalist guided kayak or boat tours. These much anticipated tours run November through April. The relaxed pace and emphasis on learning is designed to help visitors develop a true sense of place and a deeper connection to this unique coastal wilderness. Several different trips are available, each with a different theme and location. All tours provide a chance to see a diversity of native wildlife and offer a comfortable platform for photography. Pre-registration required. Visit Rookerybay.org/calendar for dates, times and themes.

Birding Basics

January 11, 2019

• 8:30 am – 12:30 pm

• $40 Registration is required www.rookerybay.org/calendar

Enjoy this fun and informative class designed to help you identify birds around you. Oriented toward the beginning birder, the classroom session explores how to use birds’ plumage, shape, behavior and habitat to recognize various species. It also covers the effective use of binoculars and field guides. During the second part of the class you will learn more tricks of the trade during a field trip to a nearby park where you can enjoy practicing new skills.

Birds of the Beach

January 12, 2019

• 8 am – 12 pm

• $40 Registration is required www.rookerybay.org/calendar

Southwest Florida is a critical stopover site for thousands of migrating and wintering shorebirds. In this class, Adam DiNuovo of Audubon Florida will discuss the life history of these birds and the amazing journeys many of them make annually. Winter shorebirds are notoriously difficult to ID, so practicing the skills learned in this class is essential. You will learn how to use plumage, size, and behavior to help with identification. The classroom session will take place at the Rookery Bay Field Station on Shell Island Road. It will be followed by a trip to Tigertail Beach, one of the most important winter shorebird sites in Florida, where we will see many of the birds discussed. Be prepared to wade in water up to your knees, with adequate footwear that will protect your feet (no flip flops). Collier County beach parking fee applies ($8, free with sticker). This class is geared toward those with some birding experience. If you are new to birding, we recommend taking the Birding Basics class first.

Essentials of Digital Photography

January 14, 2019

• 9:30 am – 12:30 pm

• $55 Registration is required www.rookerybay.org/calendar

The class covers the essentials of your digital camera. You will learn how to use your camera’s shutter, aperture, ISO control and the drive modes to create images with impact and creativity. Sonny Saunders has over 35 years of experience in photography and instruction and is renowned for his ability to communicate to a wide variety of students.

Festival of Birds

January 18, 19 & 20, 2019 Registration is required https://rookerybay.org/festival-of-birds

Please join Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve for the Festival of Birds. This event invites guests to explore the local environment through almost 40 guided field trips to wildlife hot spots around Southwest Florida, and also features programs at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center January18, 19 & 20, 2019.

Lunch & Learn Lecture: Rookery Bay through the Eyes of Local Residents and Volunteers

January 29, 2019

• 12 – 1 pm

• $15, includes lunch Registration is required www.rookerybay.org/calendar

Please join us for the third in a series of six lectures in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Rookery Bay Research Reserve -Rookery Bay through the Eyes of Local Residents and Volunteers. Allison Haynes, Rookery Bay Research Reserve volunteer and one of few who have actually lived within the boundaries of the reserve, will trace the establishment and growth of the reserve as well as the volunteer experience. Lunch will be provided. The 2018-19 lecture series will focus on the history of the Rookery Bay area and the establishment of the Research Reserve. Lectures by staff and volunteers will describe 3,000 years of use of the estuary, the grassroots movement to save the bay, fisheries research, the establishment of the Research Reserve and Environmental Learning Center, as well as some of the more recent accomplishments and notable events in the Reserve’s timeline.

Photography Annual Exhibition – Art Gallery Reception

January 31, 2019

• 5:30 – 7 pm

• This is a Free Event Registration is required www.rookerybay.org/calendar

Join us for the opening reception of our Photography Annual Exhibition presented by of the Friends of Rookery Bay and the United Arts Council of Collier County. Works are submitted by artists from Collier and Lee counties and juried by local experts. Following along with Rookery Bay’s environmental mission, works will share a central theme of flora and fauna. Most of the photographs are for sale. The opening reception includes wine and light hors d’oeuvres

A toast to Naples’ good old days on New Year’s Eve

Lois Bolin Old Naples Historian

At the stroke of midnight on December 31, the world will once again be joined in a universal commonality when we all begin toasting “Auld Lang Syne,” the poem by Robert Burns that is widely regarded as “one of the world’s most popular songs that no one knows the lyrics to.”

The tune can stop (well, you never really stop a Scotsman) even the wildest of ye’ Highlanders for a moment of reflection to honor a time long, long gone. More idiomatically, “auld lang syne” translates to “old long ago” or “days gone by”— or simply, “the good old days.”

While most Scotsmen believe they invented most things —and according to the book, How Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World and Almost Everything in It, they did; but they did not create the tradition of singing (miming is more like it) “Auld Lang Syne” at midnight on December 31.

Bandleader Guy Lombardo gets the credit for that. Mr. Lombardo apparently first heard the song in his hometown of London, Ontario, sung by (no surprise here) Scottish immigrants. When Lombardo, his brothers and their Royal Canadian dance band settled in New York City, they caused a stir between the two top radio networks, CBS and NBC, who were vying to get Mr. Lombardo on their airwaves.

At midnight December 31, 1929, at The Roosevelt Hotel, Mr. Lombardo signed off on CBS, concluding the first half of his New Year’s Eve celebration, and then immediately signed on with NBC to broadcast the second half of the festivities.

The tradition of New Year’s Eve with Guy Lombardo and, of course, “Auld Lang Syne” became so entrenched in American culture that Life magazine once speculated that if Mr. Lombardo “failed to play‘ Auld Lang Syne,’ the American public would not believe that the new year had really arrived.”

The center of Naples’ New Year’s Eve celebrations has long been at one of the town’s most beloved treasures — the Naples Pier. This December 31, we can relive a moment in time, although there will probably be more people on the beach at 7:30 p.m. watching the city fireworks display than there were in all of Naples back when the tradition began.

Afterwards, walk up 12th Avenue South, the first Main Street in Naples, and show your family the Norris Gardens and Palm Cottage, continue past Beardy Banyan, the oldest banyan tree in the City of Naples at the corner of Gordon Drive.

As you cross Gordon Drive and enter the parking lot behind Tommy Bahama’s, stop and reflect that, “this is where it all began.”

Imagine a time in 1919, long before Guy Lombardo landed in New York, and envision Captain Stewart waving his lantern as the Bon Temps, Naples’ first transportation service, approaches the pier.

Picture guests walking down the street from the pier toward The Naples Hotel as the hotel staff puts their luggage on a cart that rolls on a set of rail tracks to the hotel, with perhaps a child or two on top getting the ride of their lives.

Imagine the Captain, who is also the town postmaster, stopping at the post office at the foot of the pier to drop off the mail before walking over to bring his employer, Walter Haldeman, the founder of Naples, the latest news.

When the clock strikes midnight, you will now be prepared to sing one of the world’s most popular songs. When you raise your glass to toast out with the old and in with the new; remember to toast the traditions, the culture, the stories and the good old day of life in Naples – all 132 years of it.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne,

We’ll tak a cup of kindness yet, For auld lang syne!

And there’s a hand my trusty fiere, And gie’s a hand o thine, And we’ll tak a right guid-willie waught, For auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne,

We’ll tak a cup of kindness yet, For auld lang syne!

Remember these words and sing them loudly – loud enough to stop a Scotsman in his tracks.

THE IMMOKALEE FOUNDATION Raised $2.5 million

TIF Charity Classic Pro-Am 1st place overall – Paul Belfore, golf pro Kristy McPherson, Patrick Trittler, David Gordley, Steve Thompson, golf pro Paul Azinger

The Immokalee Foundation unveiled its new career model during the Charity Classic Celebration gala and Pro-Am this month, garnering strong support from philanthropists and community business leaders who donated $2.5 million to support the foundation’s groundbreaking programs that serve the youth of Immokalee.

The Charity Classic Celebration provided attendees with the opportunity to support specific programs that help students choose and achieve a profession; Charity Classic Pro-Am participants enjoyed a day of golf with nearly two dozen of the top men and women players in the nation.

Barbara and Dale Morrison, The Immokalee Foundation Charity Classic Celebration Event Co-Chairs with students.

The foundation’s new career model, known as “Rewarding Careers in the New Economy,” is based on extensive research of in-demand professions in Southwest Florida and a comprehensive, all-new curriculum that helps students follow the pathway to their chosen career.

The model recognizes that many well paying jobs are available to students who earn industry recognized certifications and credentials, in addition to professions that require two- and four-year college degrees. Joyce Hagen, board chair for The Immokalee Foundation, has led the effort to expand the organization’s career based programming to help students achieve financial independence with or without a college education.

“We are starting to educate the youth of Immokalee in sixth grade about the career pathways that lead to well paying jobs right here in Southwest Florida,” Hagen said. “Our programming involves the parents, as well, forming a partnership that helps ensure each student achieves his or her goals. We remain committed to Take Stock in Children college scholarships, while recognizing that not all students need a college degree to succeed in their chosen profession.” “We are incredibly grateful for the community’s generosity,” said Noemi Perez, The Immokalee Foundation executive director.

“Every dollar raised is an investment in the future of our students, and we are dedicated to helping each one achieve his or her professional goal.”

Paul Azinger, lead golf analyst for NBC Sports and 12-time PGA winner, this year played in his first Charity Classic Pro-Am. “The more I read and understand what The Immokalee Foundation is all about, the more I want to get behind it,” Azinger said. “I’ve always been motivated to help young people.”

Many pro players were alumni of many years, supporting the Immokalee Foundation students. LPGA champion Annika Sorenstam expressed her delight at “being around people who are very caring, and very generous.”

Barbara and Dale Morrison co-chaired the Charity Classic Celebration, while Bay Colony member Sunny Sapiente chaired the Pro-Amtournament.

Jennifer and Tony Fassino, CAT Vice-President of Building Construction Products, at The Immokalee Foundation’s Charity Classic Celebration

Corporate sponsors of this year’s events were Kelly Tractor, Presenting Sponsor; BCB Homes, Pairings Party Sponsor; Florida Community Bank and Huntington Private Bank, Success Circle Sponsors; BMO Private Bank and IBERIABANK, Pathways Circle Sponsors; eBella Magazine, Media Sponsor; and The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Bigham Jewelers, Gene’s 5th Ave. Florist, Hamilton Harbor and Mercedes-Benz of Naples, In-Kind Donors.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to professional careers through support, mentoring and tutoring, and life skills development leading to economic independence.

To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, its signature events, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239.430.9122 or visit https://immokaleefoundation.org.

Noemi Y. Perez, executive director of The Immokalee Foundation, can be reached at noemi.perez@immokaleefoundation.org.