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

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

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