by Noemi Y. Perez
Oftentimes, people who learn about The Immokalee Foundation’s impact on our students are moved by our mission, but they aren’t always certain how they can help.
Local businesses, organizations and individuals can contribute in creative ways, and there are countless opportunities for you to make a difference with The Immokalee Foundation – whether you are currently working, retired – or even a student.
If you are employed with a local company, you can invite students for an office field trip, offer an internship, or serve as a special guest speaker. These efforts help support our Career Pathways program that prepares students for careers in Engineering and Construction Management, Business Management and Entrepreneurship, Education and Human Services, and Health Care.
Until COVID-19 protocols allow on-site visits, these types of opportunities are currently virtual.
The Immokalee Foundation also can help companies design a volunteer opportunity for team building while addressing one of the foundation’s immediate needs. For instance, when the pandemic disrupted the celebration plans for The Immokalee Foundation’s high school graduates last year, 20 associates from Gartner in Fort Myers volunteered to write letters of encouragement for each student as a way to support their community while recognizing safety protocols.
The inspiring and uplifting messages from experienced members of the local workforce offered the students hope and a sense that their plans for the future will continue on course.
“We strive to be strong advocates of our local Southwest Florida community,” said Laura Medrado, chair of volunteer events for the Women at Gartner- Fort Myers, who coordinated the letter-writing effort. “There was a great response from our associates in this initiative.”
Mentoring is a rewarding way to support The Immokalee Foundation, as well, if you’re able to offer 40 minutes each week during school hours. Bring your positive attitude and energy, and we’ll provide the necessary training to help you guide a student toward academic and personal success.
“Mentoring is not a major time commitment, but it definitely has a monumental impact on someone else’s life by just being encouraging, loving and kind,” said Chris Farley, who became a mentor with The Immokalee Foundation in 2019. “So why not do that? We all need to support the future of our young people.”
Organizing a third-party event is another inventive option. In 2019, foundation alumnus Jonathan Cantu nominated The Immokalee Foundation for a philanthropic program at Altar’d State, the clothing and gift store at Coconut Point where he is assistant manager. His initiative resulted in a nearly $4,000 contribution to the foundation’s general fund.
Even high school students can help make a difference. Twins Kevin and Katherine Hawkes are leading a service project with a group of fellow freshmen from Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers. Together, the students are creating graduation gift bags for each of The Immokalee Foundation’s 60 graduating seniors, including a book, personalized poster, and fun items to celebrate the milestone in style.
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, 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 immokaleefoundation.org.
Noemi Y. Perez, president and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.