Being an Immokalee Foundation Mentor is LIFE-CHANGING

NOEMI Y. PEREZ, President & CEO, The Immokalee Foundation

Two different aspects of life in Collier County continue to amaze me. Access to water and perpetual sunshine aside, my top pick is the generosity of spirit of those who live and work in our community. But following closely behind are the extraordinary skill sets of our friends and neighbors. Their collective resumes are astonishing.

Southwest Florida is a haven for success—and the students of The Immokalee Foundation are hungry for access to those who are both successful and generous with their time and talent.

Upon retiring and moving from Washington., in early 2021, Maureen Lambe was excited to resume volunteer activities. As even the most motivated among us typically seek some sort of downtime post-retirement,

Mentee Jennifer T. and mentor Maureen Lambe

Maureen was the reverse. She wanted to be up and running in her new community as quickly as possible. After reading an article about The Immokalee Foundation, she quickly became a mentor to Jennifer, a rising ninth-grade Immokalee Foundation student following the Foundation’s Business Management& Entrepreneurship Pathway.

Our mentors meet with their mentees weekly—online or in person—for at least 30 minutes during the academic year, offering advice to help our dedicated and deserving students be more successful.

The mentor-mentee relationship is a critical component of The Immokalee Foundation’s award-winning Career Pathways Program, which allows students to pursue career interests in growing fields throughout Southwest Florida, including Business Management & Entrepreneurship, Education & Human Services, Engineering & Construction Management, and Healthcare.

Due to her impressive business background, Maureen was matched with Jennifer, a Business Management & Entrepreneurship Pathway student whose career goal is healthcare administration. For Jennifer, The Immokalee Foundation is a family affair. Jennifer’s older brother is also in the Business Management & Entrepreneurship Pathway. Her two younger sisters participate in our Elementary School/Immokalee Readers and Middle School Programs.

For more than 30 years, The Immokalee Foundation has been preparing the next generation of leaders through a 100% focus on education, career readiness, and professional development for students in Immokalee—from kindergarten to postsecondary education.

The Foundation provides new pathways to success and financial independence through robust programming that prepares students for well-paying-demand professional careers. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, become a mentor, signature events, volunteer as a career panel speaker or host, donate, or include the Foundation in your estate plans, please call 239-430-9122 or visit


Our students and mentors form incredible relationships—many of our mentors become like family to our students.

“I really enjoy learning about all aspects of Jennifer’s life: school, family, pets, friends and church, Maureen observes. “I also enjoy being a part of Jennifer’s progress in school. I am informed about Jennifer’s grades, allowing me to play a supportive role.”

“Hearing someone else’s perspective can really influence a student’s life. It’s a wonderful feeling sharing your dreams—and then setting goals to reach them,” says Jennifer.

“I have learned that sometimes people learn from making mistakes; everything will not always be perfect but taking a risk is an attribute that is good for someone in the business and entrepreneurship program should have.”

The Immokalee Foundation’s Take Stock in Children Program Manager, Yeimi Espinoza, oversees the robust mentor program.

“As they come from a disadvantaged agricultural community, our students can be very different from other young people in Collier County. This often inspires our mentors to go the extra mile. “However, differences and similarities play an equal role in the program’s success. So many of our mentors respond to Immokalee’s tradition of strong family values, work ethic, and desire to succeed.

“Your mentee’s success brings you so much satisfaction,” Maureen says. “It is exciting to ride alongside your mentee on this education and career journey.”

Perhaps most interesting is that the lives being changed by these exceptional relationships are not just those of the students—but also their mentors.

For additional information on The Immokalee Foundation’s Mentor Program, please contact or 239.692.5940.

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