The Immokalee Foundation inducts 53 students into 2016 Take Stock in Children class

The Immokalee Foundation welcomed a record-setting number of students into Take Stock in Children at the foundation’s recent induction ceremony, where 53 middle and high school students pledged to honor the program’s requirements in order to earn two- or four-year scholarships to Florida state colleges, universities or vocational schools upon graduation from high school.

The Immokalee Foundation, dedicated to providing sustained educational opportunities to Immokalee’s youth, supports and operates the TSIC scholarship and mentoring program in the north Collier County community.

During the ceremony at Immokalee High School, the students – who ranged from seventh to 10th grade – pledged to maintain good grades, stay drug- and crime-free, attend required workshops and events, meet weekly with their TIF mentors and volunteer in the community.

Parents and mentors also took pledges during the induction ceremony. Parents pledged to support and encourage their children and to communicate with TSIC and school officials if their students need additional assistance. For mentors, the pledge included a commitment to meet with their mentees once a week in Immokalee and provide academic support and motivation.

Scholarships for the incoming TSIC students were made possible by generous donors who purchased scholarships at the 2015 Charity Classic Celebration and Fund A Dream auction, a live bidding experience providing benefactors the unique chance to support the young people of Immokalee by giving directly to the children. One hundred percent of the money raised during the Fund A Dream auction at the Charity Classic Celebration benefits TSIC programs, and all contributions are 100 percent tax-deductible.

Following a welcome by The Immokalee Foundation’s Executive Director Steven Kissinger and the Pledge of Allegiance led by TSIC student Benjamin Lucio, the audience heard a keynote address from TSIC alumna Technie Fabian. “The Immokalee Foundation is so helpful in a variety of ways,” Fabian said. “They help with jobs, how to find the right college to achieve your goals, how to dress for success and most importantly, how to reach your dreams. With support from your family and The Immokalee Foundation, there should never be a reason not to reach your dreams.”

Luis Trejo is the father of three children; his youngest is a TIF Take Stock in Children student. “My only regret in life is not being able to go to college,” he told the audience of more than 200. “When my oldest son graduated, I couldn’t afford to pay for college, and he had to drop out. My middle son worked to help pay for his college. Mark [the youngest] always showed an interest in learning, and I wanted him to continue … a friend encouraged us to complete an application. I’ll never forget when he was inducted; I cried when we returned home that night. The Immokalee Foundation has given me and my family peace and hope. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you have done for my son – and so many others like him.”

After a mentor address by Carol Medea and the presentation of the inductees’ Take Stock certificates, The Immokalee Foundation Board Chair Joyce Hagen delivered closing remarks. “We are all proud of you and look forward to seeing you begin your journey and achieving your dreams,” Hagen said. “All of us at The Immokalee Foundation wish you all the best as you set upon your pathway to success.”

The TSIC selection committee for 2016 included Linda Ayer, Joe Lee Gallegos, Ann Stallkamp and Dee Zednik, TIF supporters who are passionate about the foundation and believe in the students’ potential.

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 TIF, volunteering as a mentor, making a donation, including TIF in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.

Joyce Hagen, Luis Vasquez, Mauricio Trejo, Ana Vega-Arreola, Ariana Ruiz, Steven Kissinger

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