FORE the kids

Thomas Duffy, Eloy Anzualda

by Noemi Y. Perez

Next month, The Immokalee Foundation’s most important fundraisers of the year take place: the CharityClassic Celebration and Charity Classic Pro-Am golf tournament.

Supporters know how important these events are to the foundation’s work with Immokalee’s youth.

Thomas Duffy realized the impact of The Immokalee Foundation’s work two years ago when he became a mentor. Duffy meets once a week after school with Eloy Anzualda, an Immokalee High School sophomore, and Christian Centeno, a senior.

It’s easy to imagine that Duffy, a professor at Florida Gulf Coast University’s School of Entrepreneurship, helps his mentees with their classwork – but he says there is no need.

“These students are at the top of the class – they both have 4.0 GPAs,” Duffy said. “They have the school part handled. I’m teaching them more about life skills and things I’ve learned over the years, including how to manage their time and how to be assertive in an interview. We just finished writing resumes and doing practice interviews.”

Anzualda said Duffy helped him hone his resume and believes the finished product helped him to be selected as an Immokalee Readers tutor, a paid position for high school students who are trained to help elementary students improve their reading skills.

As for Anzualda’s future, “He’s going to be a big-time biologist,” Duffy said. “It looks like he may decide to be an oceanographer.“

Being a mentor is really rewarding,” Duffy said. “It doesn’t take a lot of time, but there is a tremendous return.

“The Charity Classic Celebration festivities include the dynamic Fund A Dream auction, a live bidding experience that allows donors to contribute to Immokalee’s children in specific and tangible ways.

The auction supports programs that forge important career pathways for Immokalee youth through the foundation’s recently launched career model,

“Career Pathways: Empowering Students to Succeed.”

Based on extensive research of in-demand professions in Southwest Florida, the comprehensive new curriculum helps students – beginning in middle school – to follow educational and experiential pathways to their chosen careers.

The pathways include Engineering and Construction Management, Business Management, Education and Human Services, and Health Care. 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.

The Charity Classic Pro-Am begins with registration and breakfast at 7:30 a.m., and the shotgun start at 9 a.m. The scramble-style tournament features some of Naples’ most philanthropic amateur golfers and two dozen of the biggest names in professional golf.

At the exclusive Pairings Party at Bay Colony Golf Club on November 10, groups of foursomes will learn which two professional golfers will join them for nine holes each during the following day’s tournament on the links at Old Collier.

The Presenting Sponsor Kelly Tractor, is proud to support the foundation’s educational programs that help the youth of Immokalee gain financial independence. Additional sponsors include BCB Homes, Success Circle Sponsor; BMO Wealth Management, Entech, IBERIABANK, and Synovus, Pathways Circle Sponsors; and Florida Weekly, Gulfshore Life/D’Latinos magazines and Naples Daily News, Media Sponsors.

Tickets to the Charity Classic Celebration begin at $550 per person, and entry into the Pro-Am is $5,000 per golfer.

A variety of sponsorship opportunities are now available. For more information or to register, call 239-430-9122 or visit

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

Noemi Y. Perez, executive director of The Immokalee Foundation, can be reached at

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