I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of family. Looking at my background, how could I not be? I was born and raised in Immokalee. As one of nine children, I was part of a large, caring family. However, as I would come to appreciate more and more over the years, I was also part of another, even larger family that totals over 28,000 members —the hardworking, compassionate people of Immokalee, Florida.
As the President and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation, I am responsible for leading an organization whose mission is to support the education, career-readiness, and professional development of over 1,300 students a year, ranging from kindergarten through postsecondary education.
The Immokalee Foundation is forging new pathways to success and financial independence for the youth of Immokalee with robust programming that prepares students for well-paying, in-demand professional careers in Business Management & Entrepreneurship, Education& Human Services, Engineering & Construction Management, and Healthcare.
Family is a significant part of the culture in Immokalee and at The Immokalee Foundation. The numerous sibling combinations currently benefiting from our programs are a testament to that. Siblings play an even more significant role when looking at families whose members include our alumni, and current and future students.
There are Foundation staff members whose children, nieces and nephews participate. A growing group includes the children of Immokalee Foundation alumni, our legacy students who are now discovering their pathways to success.
Parents are always encouraged to participate in activities that will enhance their understanding of the Foundation’s capabilities and their child’s career potential.
With our love of family at the forefront, we recently launched The Immokalee Foundation’s Family Society. This monthly giving campaign celebrates the generational impact made on families. When members join, they receive updates, photos, and videos of students whose lives they are changing.
Take for example, Alumnus Jesus Abarca Jr. who was a part of The Immokalee Foundation for six years. He joined us in 7th grade and stayed active through his 2009 high school graduation.
Today, Jesus is a graduate of Florida State University with a degree in Economics. He lives in Livermore in the East Bay Area of California and works as a Production Manager at HelloFresh, one of the largest meal kit suppliers in the country where he oversees a team of 140 people.
Despite being away from his hometown of Immokalee, when he learned of the launch of the Family Society, he immediately stepped up and became one of the first to join and donate.
“I always thought you needed to be further in life to give or to start giving,” Abarca said. “This is just a start. I know that I can contribute more over time and create an even bigger impact.”
To the other members of our Collier County family, I invite you to get to know more about our Foundation Family. Joining the Family Society is an excellent way to start. Our family is big but we are always looking to make it bigger. For more information, please visitimmokaleefoundation.org/ family society today.
“You can have all the success in the world, but if you are not using it to change someone’s life, what good is having it? If you are not using it to lift other people up or change someone’s life, it doesn’t fill your soul in any meaningful way,” Abarca says. “Family means having a group of people who can support and be there for you. The Immokalee Foundation reinforced that idea because they were with me throughout my childhood and are still there for me. And now, I’m proud to be there for them, too.”
ABOUT THE IMMOKALEE FOUNDATION
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 Immokalee Foundation offers new pathways to success and financial independence through robust programming that prepares students for well-paying, in-demand professional careers in Business Management and Entrepreneurship, Education and Human Services, Engineering and Construction Management and Healthcare. For more informational 239-430-9122 or visit immokaleefoundation.org.