Immokalee students reaffirm their commitment to success at foundation’s Pledge Night

The Immokalee Foundation held its Take Stock in Children Pledge Night at Immokalee Middle School recently. In attendance were 260 students, family members, mentors and community supporters.

Parents watched as their nearly 100 sons and daughters in the Take Stock in Children program pledged to remain drug- and crime-free, maintain good grades and meet with their mentors weekly in exchange for a college scholarship after graduating from high school. Throughout the academic year, students continue to attend programs and acquire skills useful in determining their future careers as well as performing community service.

Young people become eligible to apply for Take Stock in Children beginning in seventh grade, but many are accepted in later grades as well.

Luis Vasquez is a sophomore at Immokalee High School. The 16-year-old is exploring career options and hopes to become an engineer someday; being accepted into Take Stock this year will make that dream closer to a reality. At Pledge Night, Luis Vasquez Sr. and Floridalma Chavez talked with their son’s mentor and watched as their son vowed to maintain the high standards required by the program. Vasquez is on his way to becoming the first in his family to attend college.

While Vasquez has just begun his journey with The Immokalee Foundation and still is learning what is required, students like Angel Perez are around to help. Now in 11th grade, Perez was accepted into the program as a freshman and took the Take Stock pledge for the third time. “Now I really know what’s involved and what part I play in the foundation,” he said. “If I can help newer members, I do. And anytime somebody says, ‘We don’t have enough people’ to do something, I’m there.”

Perez plans to study marine biology and minor in computer science.

“Pledge Night is very important for students and their families,” said Noemi Perez, the foundation’s program services director. “It is an opportunity for students, parents and mentors to come together to reaffirm their commitment to the Take Stock in Children program. It is great to see the children motivated and ready to continue on their pathways to success.”

The Take Stock in Children program began in Immokalee in 2001. Since then, the foundation has awarded more than $1 million in college scholarships. Students are selected for the program based on economic need, their answers to essay questions and an in-person interview.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, 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 www.immokaleefoundation.org.

 

Don Huffner with TIF students - Angel Perez-Patino, Guadalupe Guzman, Leslie Gallegos, Marilyn Gijon, Litzy Rojas, Daniel Escobedo, Cindy Velazquez

Don Huffner with TIF students – Angel Perez-Patino, Guadalupe Guzman, Leslie Gallegos, Marilyn Gijon, Litzy Rojas, Daniel Escobedo, Cindy Velazquez

Eloy Anzualda

Eloy Anzualda

Mario Posada reciting TIF TSIC mentor pledge

Mario Posada reciting TIF TSIC mentor pledge

Mary Marchand (mentor), Aida Garcia, Juana Lopez Renosa

Mary Marchand (mentor), Aida Garcia, Juana Lopez Renosa

Tabitha Campbell, Leann Cambell

Tabitha Campbell, Leann Cambell

Donor shares ‘Gift of Reading’ through book fairs for Immokalee Foundation students

Students in kindergarten through fifth grade in five Immokalee schools received 2,400 free books during Gift of Reading Book Fairs made possible by Southwest Floridian Kristin Sullivan and sponsored by The Immokalee Foundation in partnership with Scholastic Book Fairs.

Sullivan raised enough money among friends, family and associates for each of the 600 students in the foundation’s Immokalee Readers program to select four free books to start their own personal libraries. Immokalee Readers is a literacy program that raises the reading proficiency of young students who are not performing at grade level by pairing them with a high school reading tutor.

Sullivan said when she volunteered with a group of friends on Hurricane Irma recovery in the area, she met families in difficult financial circumstances. “Afterward, I became familiar with The Immokalee Foundation and what they did for children,” she said. “I found out the elementary schools in Immokalee never had a book fair. That was always my favorite day at school as a kid.” Subsequently, Sullivan proposed and helped organize the Gift of Reading Book Fairs to share that enthusiasm with other students.

“The kids were so grateful to receive their books,” said Noemi Perez, a staff member with The Immokalee Foundation who joined along with colleague Marisol Sanders to help Sullivan launch the fairs. “Their eyes lit up when they saw the number of books they could choose from, and they took their time to pick out the perfect ones. Not only did they think of themselves, but many of them also chose books for their siblings. We are truly grateful to Kristin for bringing a book fair to our Immokalee Readers program.”

Sullivan, a local event planner, is awaiting publication of a children’s book she wrote about Hurricane Irma.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, 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 www.immokaleefoundation.org.

 

Kristin Sullivan’s The Gift of Reading Book Fair recipients and teachers

Kristin Sullivan’s The Gift of Reading Book Fair recipients and teachers

April

April

Perla, Rosalina

Perla, Rosalina

Myra

Myra

Kimberli

Kimberli

Samuel

Samuel

The Immokalee Foundation students are sailors for a day on Sweet Liberty catamaran

Students in The Immokalee Foundation’s programs spent a recent Saturday on a 53-foot sailing catamaran in the Gulf of Mexico on an outing sponsored by Harry and Deborah Debes of Naples, who are longtime supporters of the nonprofit.

Aboard the Sweet Liberty, 24 students enjoyed their first experience on a sailboat. They boarded the 44-passenger vessel at Landings Park and journeyed to Keewaydin Island off the coast of Naples. They went shelling as part of an environmental scavenger hunt, bringing their findings back to the boat for identification by a marine biologist the Debeses hired for the day. As they learned about local ecosystems and the importance of conservation, some of the students took turns steering the boat under the watchful eye of the captain and announced their presence by blowing on a conch shell.

“Only five of the two dozen students had seen the Gulf before, so it was great fun to provide this experience,” said Harry, a retired chairman of the board of P2 Energy Solutions.

Harry grew up in Canada under similar circumstances as most Immokalee youth – as the child of immigrants who spoke limited English and struggled financially. “I was one of those kids,” he said. “Education was my ticket to greater possibilities.”

As part of their commitment to the youth of Immokalee, Harry and his wife also sponsor 14 students in The Immokalee Foundation’s Take Stock in Children scholarship program. “I’m aware of the potential these students have, given the opportunities, but so many of them don’t even know the possibilities exist.”

“Supporters like the Debeses help us open up a world of opportunities for Immokalee students,” said the foundation’s executive director, Steven Kissinger. “We are so grateful for their dedication to these kids.”

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, 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 www.immokaleefoundation.org.

 

Mary Ann Debes, Aida Garcia, Samantha Huapilla, Lizette Silva, Israel Estrada, Ana Vega-Arreola, Harry Debes, Thianica Previlus, Fabian Arreguin, Elmer Santiago, Linda Gomez-Trejo

Mary Ann Debes, Aida Garcia, Samantha Huapilla, Lizette Silva, Israel Estrada, Ana Vega-Arreola, Harry Debes, Thianica Previlus, Fabian Arreguin, Elmer Santiago, Linda Gomez-Trejo

 

Sweet Liberty Captain Shane, Crystal Flores

Sweet Liberty Captain Shane, Crystal Flores

 

Israel Estrada, Sofia Villa, Linda Gomez-Trejo, Noah Garcia

Israel Estrada, Sofia Villa, Linda Gomez-Trejo, Noah Garcia

The Immokalee Foundation relocates to new offices

The Immokalee Foundation has relocated its administrative and development offices in Naples to 2375 Tamiami Trail N., Suite 308.

The foundation’s Deanna Franks Learning Center location remains at 908 Roberts Ave. W in Immokalee.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, 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 www.immokaleefoundation.org.

Waste Management donation provides hands-on experience to The Immokalee Foundation’s HEST students

Waste Management donation

Waste Management recently donated retired equipment valued at more than $30,000 to help students in The Immokalee Foundation’s Heavy Equipment Service Technician program at Immokalee Technical College get valuable hands-on experience.

Students in the HEST program will work on the donated 2005 Isuzu satellite rear load truck, three Mack E7 engines, and a transmission during the two-year post-secondary program.

“We’ll be working on overhauling the transmission and building skills with the truck engines,” said iTECH’s HEST supervisor, Mike Tierney. “We’re very grateful for the Waste Management donations. They fit in with our curriculum and will suit our program well.”

The HEST program was launched at Immokalee Technical College under the guidance of Don Fites, former CEO of Caterpillar Inc. Fites played a key role in developing the public-private sector collaboration that created the program, including support from the Caterpillar Foundation, Fites Family Charitable Trust, Kelly Foundation Inc., Kelly Tractor and the Collier County School District.

The Immokalee Foundation’s HEST program includes practical experience in engine operation, rebuilding diesel engines, hydraulic system testing, heavy equipment fleet maintenance, and rebuilding transmissions, along with specialized skills in electronics, such as use of manufacturers’ diagnostic tools.

After the first year of the program, students are matched with summer internships with companies such as Caterpillar, US Sugar and, now, Waste Management, in which the pay ranges from $14 to $17 an hour. Following their internships, students return to complete a second year of instruction; upon graduation, HEST students’ average wage is $22 an hour in Southwest Florida and elsewhere.

In addition to donating the truck, Senior District Manager of Waste Management’s Charlotte County hauling operations Todd Peres is looking forward to working with the HEST student interns to fill the shortage of 70 technicians across the state of Florida.

“After meeting the students in the Heavy Equipment Service Technician program, we are confident they are up to the challenge of this career and will keep pace with new technologies,” said Peres.

Waste Management Inc., based in Houston, Texas, is the leading provider of comprehensive waste management services in North America. Through its subsidiaries, the company provides collection, transfer, recycling and resource recovery, and disposal services. It is also a leading developer, operator and owner of waste-to-energy and landfill gas-to-energy facilities in the United States.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, 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 www.immokaleefoundation.org.

Waste Management donation