In Career Development, Post Secondary & Career Success, Special Events

NAPLES, FL — January 26, 2023 — For the first time in over three years, The Immokalee Foundation recently hosted its popular Charity Classic Gala at The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Tiburon. Co-chairs for the event were Carol and Thomas Joseph and Janet and Jerry Belle.

Emcees Corey Lazar, WINK News Anchor, and former WINK News Anchor Therese O’Shea welcomed over 300 enthusiastic guests and sponsors to “Sueños, The Dream Gala,” a return of one of Southwest Florida’s most renowned live events in support of 1,300 students at The Immokalee Foundation.

Guests made dreams come true for Foundation students through a record-breaking amount raised during the energetic and emotional evening.

For over 31 years, the 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 last three years have been unprecedented, to say the least. Despite all the challenges, The Immokalee Foundation was able to continue serving our students without interruption because of the compassion and devotion of our remarkable supporters—especially at a time when we needed them the most,” said Immokalee Foundation President and CEO Noemi Y. Perez. “I know that many of our supporters are still dealing with the devastating impact of Hurricane Ian, yet they chose to support us in such an extraordinary way. I am profoundly grateful as this funding will impact, not just the quality of the educational support services we provide, but the number of children we are able to support through these services.”

The Sueños presentation included high-flying aerialists, live music, videos, and emotionally impactful speeches from students representing all of The Immokalee Foundation’s core programming. This includes the award-winning Career Pathways program that prepares students for well-paying, in-demand professional careers in Business Management & Entrepreneurship, Education & Human Services, Engineering & Construction Management, and Healthcare.

Several of Southwest Florida’s elected officials were in attendance, including U.S. Congressman Byron Donalds, State Representative Bob Rommel, Collier County Commissioner Dan Kowal and Collier County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Leslie Ricciardelli.

“Providing educational support, mentoring, networking opportunities, and scholarships to these ambitious young people would not be possible without the generosity of numerous supporters, sponsors and volunteers,” said Marie Hernandez Rubenstein, The Immokalee Foundation’s VP of Philanthropy. “So many dreams were made possible this evening because of a deep-rooted understanding that Immokalee’s young people represent the future of our community.”

Event sponsors included BMO Wealth Management, Carol and Thomas Joseph Foundation, John & Emily Costigan, Florida Gulf Coast University, Glenmede, Kelly Tractor, Gulfshore Life, Maxwell Mortgage, Don & Ellen O’Neill, Pulte Homes, Scotlynn Group, and Tobe Development.

The Immokalee Foundation’s next signature event is the Charity Classic Pro-Am Golf Tournament on March 12 and 13 at The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Tiburón. Visit for more information.

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