‘Guadalupe Galaxy’ fundraising gala to offer in-person, virtual options

‘Guadalupe Galaxy’ fundraising gala to offer in-person, virtual options

guadalupe galaxy logo

Guadalupe Center’s annual fundraising gala on Jan. 20 will offer in-person and virtual attendance options as the nonprofit continues raising awareness and support for its life-changing education programs. 

Guadalupe Galaxy: Constellations of Hope” will be held Thursday, Jan. 20 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, 2600 Tiburon Drive in Naples. The fundraising gala will feature cocktails, dinner, heartwarming student performances and speakers, galaxy-inspired décor, the return of a live auction, out-of-this-world entertainment and the popular Jump Up for Education, a lively interactive call to action that allows attendees to make donations and jump up to show their support for Guadalupe Center. 

The presenting sponsor for Guadalupe Galaxy is Moorings Park Grande Lake by London Bay Development Group. Event chairs are Bev Cherry and Debbie Toler. 

In 2021, Guadalupe Center’s Circtacular gala was an entirely virtual, circus-themed extravaganza and raised $1 million. That event featured special effects, augmented reality and comedic performances, as well as compelling videos and heartfelt testimonials to demonstrate the impact of fundraising on the lives of students and families in Immokalee. 

“Circtacular proved that a virtual event can be just as successful as an in-person event if executed with excellence,” said Guadalupe Center President Dawn Montecalvo. “Guadalupe Galaxy will be a hybrid event that allows supporters who feel comfortable in a group setting to enjoy a traditional gala, while allowing those who prefer smaller settings to participate remotely yet still make a difference in the lives of students we serve by providing a high-quality education that can create endless possibilities.” 

Proceeds from Guadalupe Galaxy will support the nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program. Guadalupe Center’s mission is breaking the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee. 

Guadalupe Galaxy Sponsorships

Multiple patron levels are available. In-person ticket opportunities include: 

  • Diamond Patron ($25,000): Includes 20 gala tickets and 6 post-event Patron Party tickets
  • Platinum Patron ($10,000): Includes 10 gala tickets and 4 post-event Patron Party tickets 
  • Gold Patron ($5,000): Includes 6 gala tickets and 2 post-event Patron Party tickets 
  • Silver Patron ($3,000): Includes 2 gala tickets and 2 post-event Patron Party tickets 
  • Bronze Patron ($1,000): Includes 1 gala ticket and 1 post-event Patron Party ticket 
  • Patron ($500): Includes 1 gala ticket 

Additionally, five patron levels are available for the virtual gala and include a link to the livestream: Platinum Patron ($10,000), Gold Patron ($5,000), Silver Patron ($3,000), Bronze Patron ($1,000) and Patron ($500). Virtual patrons can experience real-time segments, including a passionate speech from a Tutor Corps student and the Jump Up for Education.

Guadalupe Galaxy Contact

For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact Tammy Richelieu at 239-963-3668 or TRichelieu@GuadalupeCenter.org. 

Five tips to make ‘thrifting’ worth your time in 2022

thrifting - guadalupe resale shopRetail prices are soaring on everything from clothing and food to vehicles and gas. The inflation rate is at its highest level in three decades. Shipping delays and limited inventory are frustrating consumers from coast to coast. 

Savvy shoppers, however, are rediscovering a money-saving alternative – thrift store shopping. Prior to the pandemic, the thrift store industry was growing by 7% annually, according to The Association of Resale Professionals. However, the online resale platform ThredUp estimates the secondhand market will double from $36 billion in 2021 to $77 billion in 2025. 

Thrift store shopping, affectionately called “thrifting” by the trend’s devotees, can be entertaining and enlightening, as well as challenging. Below are five tips to make thrifting worth your time in 2022: 

Shop with a purpose

When customers enter a grocery store, they have a general idea of what they need to buy – milk, eggs, bread, etc. You don’t need a specific list to shop at a thrift store, though, just a general idea, goal or plan of action. If you’re looking to spruce up a living room with new artwork, for instance, decide in advance on the theme, like tropical, floral or wildlife. Then begin your search. 

Pay attention to labels

Resale shops are full of like-new and brand-new items. Shoppers often stumble across designer brands with the original price tags attached. If you’re looking for shoes, dresses, jackets or ties, know which manufacturers have the best reputation for producing high-quality products. Name-brand items can be discounted 50% or more from their original prices. 

Know the cause

Many thrift stores support nonprofit organizations and rely on volunteers to run operations rather than paid employees. That means a higher portion of revenue can support charitable causes like education, the environment, health care or the arts. It’s human nature to evaluate whether you really need to purchase an item, but that decision is easier when you know the money will support a cause that’s near and dear to your heart. 

Consider alternate uses

The best finds at a thrift store can come from repurposing items. A porcelain vase, for example, might have once held flowers, but someone with artistic abilities could transform it into a one-of-a-kind statement piece with a little paint. It’s similar to when fashionistas accessorize their outfits by wearing items that weren’t necessarily intended to go together, like a scarf or hat, but still look good. 

Shop at the right time

Resale shops typically receive the most donations on weekends and Mondays. That’s because people use their free time to clean. Although inventory is replenished on a daily basis, weekend donations can make their way onto the shelves early in the week. Also, many seasonal residents in Southwest Florida donate items before heading north for the summer, so inventory and selection is usually strong in March, April and May. 

The concept of thrifting is not new. However, economic factors have made thrifting popular once again. Shoppers certainly can capitalize on the trend in 2022 if they map out an appropriate plan of action before beginning their next shopping adventure. 

– By Kat McNabb, Manager of Guadalupe Resale Shop

Guadalupe Center receives $25,000 grant for after-school, summer programs

Guadalupe Center receives $25,000 grant for after-school, summer programs

community foundation grant for after school tutoring & summer enrichment program

Guadalupe Center has received a generous $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Collier County to enhance educational programs that focus on out-of-school time, including after-school, summer and college-preparatory programs. 

Guadalupe Center’s After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program provides early intervention for elementary students who score below grade-level on standardized tests. Each year, nearly 800 students in kindergarten, first and second grades attend the After-school Tutoring Program, while 300 students participate in the Summer Enrichment Program. Both components focus on reading and math instruction. 

The nonprofit’s Tutor Corps Program is a college-preparatory program that offers guidance in college and career readiness, ACT and SAT test prep, mentorships, financial literacy and scholarship assistance. The program serves 117 high school and 149 college students. 

“These programs provide extra attention and support that allows students to reach the academic milestones required for success in school, college and beyond,” said Guadalupe Center President Dawn Montecalvo. “That is why support from the Community Foundation of Collier County and other organizations is so important. Every child has big dreams and ambitions, but they need opportunities, guidance and support to help fulfill their dreams.” 

Testing data show that 100% of students in the After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program made significant learning gains in reading and math after completing the program. An astounding 94% of students in the Tutor Corps Program ultimately earn a college degree.

About the Community Foundation

The Community Foundation awards annual grants through a competitive application and review process. The foundation’s donors help identify and support the community’s most current needs. 

The Community Foundation of Collier County, now in its 36th year, is a tax-exempt, public, charitable organization established in 1985 to increase and focus on local private philanthropy. Today, the Community Foundation of Collier County manages more than 850 funds, collaborates with hundreds of nonprofits, holds over $276.6 million in assets and has distributed over $229.5 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and community programs. 

Education: The gift that keeps giving

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Each holiday season, people try to find the elusive perfect gift, a gift that keeps giving. We’ve found it – education!

Guadalupe Center President Dawn Montecalvo wrote the following article that appears in the December issue of Life in Naples explaining the critical importance of supporting education to create endless possibilities for students in Immokalee.

Education: The gift that keeps giving

There are gifts that almost certainly will create a magical Christmas morning for a child. A new smartphone. A train set. A bicycle.

Every gift-giver wants to see that euphoric state of joy and happiness last forever, but technology evolves, interests change and children grow.

For generations, people have been searching for a gift that truly keeps on giving, an item that is just as valuable today as it will be next month, next year and beyond. That gift is out there, though. It’s the gift of education.

Education can make dreams a reality. Little girls and boys can dream about becoming doctors, teachers, business owners, engineers, financial planners and more. A high-quality education can make it happen.

Of course, education is not a gift with immediate gratification. It’s a gift that requires hard work from the recipient, who must put forth effort in the classroom and show ambition, drive and determination. It’s a gift that needs mentoring and guidance along the way. It’s a gift that requires soul-searching and contemplation.

In the end, though, education creates endless possibilities by allowing children to set a goal and then begin charting their future.

Each year, Guadalupe Center serves more than 1,500 students through its nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program.

gift that keeps giving life in naplesThese programs are making a difference in the lives of Immokalee families, including one with four siblings all benefiting from Guadalupe Center’s educational programs. Alberta, the oldest, is now a sophomore at Roberts Wesleyan University majoring in business, with scholarships and grants covering nearly every expense. Rosaura, a Tutor Corps student, will graduate next spring among the top of her class at Immokalee High School, where she participates in numerous clubs and activities, and also is enrolled in Florida Gulf Coast University’s early admissions program. Elmer is an eighth-grader who has been able to receive specialized support and services that are helping him excel in middle school. Graciela, the youngest, is a second-grader whose reading, math and social skills soared after enrolling in the After-school Tutoring Program.

This is just one family. Guadalupe Center hopes to reach as many families as possible and accomplish its mission of breaking the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee.

That mission becomes clearer when reviewing statistical data. According to 2021 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, median income rises proportionately with educational attainment:

  • Less than high school diploma: $619/week
  • High school diploma: $781/week
  • Associate degree: $938/week
  • Bachelor’s degree: $1,305/week
  • Master’s degree: $1,545/week
  • Doctorate degree: $1,885/week

Money, of course, doesn’t buy happiness. For children who grew up living in poverty, though, it pays for three meals per day, rent or mortgage, utilities, reliable transportation, health care, clothing and other expenses.

Education can change lives and change an impoverished community like Immokalee.

Every December, generous residents of Southwest Florida open their hearts and wallets to support numerous charitable causes. Education is a gift unlike any other, one that helps students recognize that the impossible is actually possible and that their dreams are within reach.

– By Dawn Montecalvo

CLICK HERE TO DONATE: Education: The Gift that Keeps Giving

Donations needed for Guadalupe Center’s Holiday Gift Shop

Guadalupe Center aims to provide presents to about 2,000 Immokalee children in 2021 – the most it’s ever served – through the nonprofit’s annual Holiday Gift Shop. 

Guadalupe Center holiday class photoThrough Dec. 10, Guadalupe Center is accepting new, unwrapped donations of age-appropriate toys, games, clothing, shoes and other gifts for infants through teenagers. 

“Because Guadalupe Center has expanded to create additional educational opportunities for students in Immokalee, we also need to grow our outreach programs, including the Holiday Gift Shop,” said Guadalupe Center President Dawn Montecalvo. “Thanks to generous supporters and local businesses, we have always reached our goal of making sure that all students attending Guadalupe Center, as well as their siblings, have a gift to unwrap on Christmas morning. We are hopeful the community will again step forward to brighten the holidays for families in Immokalee.” 

In Immokalee, 97% of children are classified as “economically needy.” After their parents pay for rent, food, utilities and other expenses, there often isn’t enough money left to buy Christmas gifts. 

“The pandemic has exacerbated financial challenges faced by low-income working families, and rising inflation is putting even more stress on the family budget,” said Robert Spano, vice president of programs at Guadalupe Center. “Every child should have a gift under the Christmas tree with their name on it, and the Holiday Gift Shop is our way of helping families create a memorable holiday season.”

Holiday Gift Suggestions

Age-appropriate gift suggestions include: 

  • Infants and toddlers (0-2 years): infant gyms and bouncers, rattles, baby dolls, stacking rings, light-up or musical toys, crib mobiles, bath toys 
  • Preschool-age children (3-5 years): building blocks, baby dolls, wireless headphones or earbuds, remote-controlled cars, popular children’s characters and superheroes, activity sets, Play-Doh 
  • School-age children (6-12 years): dolls, action figures, LEGO kits, wireless headphones or earbuds, musical instruments, sporting goods, popular children’s characters and superheroes, arts and crafts sets, riding toys, tablets, science lab kits 
  • Teenagers (13-18 years): gift cards, wireless headphones or earbuds, Roku Express boxes, Bluetooth speakers, Fitbits, cell phone accessories, tablets 

How to Donate Holiday Gifts

Unwrapped gifts can be dropped off through Dec. 10 at two locations in Collier County: Guadalupe Resale Shop, 12980 Tamiami Trail North, Unit 10, in Naples; and Guadalupe Center, 509 Hope Circle in Immokalee. Additionally, monetary donations can be made securely online at GuadalupeCenter.org/donate.

For more information, please contact Haley Thalheimer, community outreach and donor relations coordinator, at HThalheimer@GuadalupeCenter.org or 239-657-7120. 

Guadalupe Resale Shop debuts seasonal holiday décor

seasonal holiday decor at guadalupe resale shopGuadalupe Resale Shop is celebrating the season by filling a section of its showroom with holiday décor.

Christmas décor includes festive tableware like plates, bowls, glasses and casserole dishes, as well as place settings, table centerpieces, shelf decorations, stuffed animals, bows, lights, angel statues, decorative pillows and even a few ugly sweaters.

“Every year, our volunteers help transform the showroom into a home for unique holiday treasures and gifts,” said Kat McNabb, store manager at Guadalupe Resale Shop. “Customers have been telling us that they don’t want the same holiday décor that their neighbors and friends bought at big box stores, and they’re finding one-of-a-kind decorations and table centerpieces here.”

McNabb also notes a trend among party-goers to bring food in a leave-behind casserole dish. When the party is over, a guest simply leaves the bowl or plate as a small gift. The party host is welcome to keep that dish or pay it forward at the next dinner party.

Proceeds from sales at Guadalupe Resale Shop support three educational programs at Guadalupe Center in Immokalee: the nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program.

Located at 12980 Tamiami Trail North, Unit 10, in Naples, Guadalupe Resale Shop is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays. Donations are accepted from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays from a curbside drop-off behind the store.

Vintage vs. old: How to tell the difference

Vintage vs. old: How to tell the difference

vintageFashionistas and collectors are in hot pursuit of vintage items to add to their wardrobes, homes or garages. 

Whether it’s a funky print, retro sneakers, 1950s hotrod or early 20th-century artwork, vintage pieces are highly sought-after items. 

But how do you know if something is vintage or just plain old? Simply study the resale market. 

Five elements help determine whether an item is considered vintage: 

  • Age: Generally, vintage items are a few decades old, with items from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and even 1980s regularly earning that term. Vintage items often exchange hands a few times. 
  • Quality: The most impressive aspect of vintage items is that they’re in excellent condition given their age. That means holes, tears, dents, cracks and rust should be minimal or nonexistent. 
  • Demand: Are people asking for that item or searching online for it? Vintage items often have an emotional connection with their owner or potential buyer. 
  • Quantity: In an era of mass production, it’s difficult to find items that are in short supply. When they are few and far between, though, consumers will act fast before they’re gone. 
  • Value: On the secondhand market, prices are driven by quality, demand and quantity. Some vintage cars, for example, sell for a higher price today than their original MSRP, even when factoring inflation into the price. 

Across Southwest Florida, the vast majority of people are building their wardrobes with new clothing purchased at department stores or online retailers. They are decorating their homes with sofas, coffee tables, kitchen tables, lamps and artwork straight from the catalog or showroom of a nearby big box store. 

Adding vintage items to your closet or living room introduces personality, style and a little flair. Fortunately, savvy shoppers can visit a variety of resale shops in Collier and Lee counties to score vintage styles. 

Vintage fashion can be plaid or floral designs, jeans, dresses and jewelry from bygone eras. Vintage furniture includes end tables, lamp bases and lamp shades, vases, tchotchkes and chairs. Even plates, bowls, wine glasses and silverware can be vintage. 

If an item was produced or manufactured in the 1990s or early 2000s, has little interest among consumers and an incredibly low price, it isn’t vintage… it’s just old. 

– By Kat McNabb, Manager of Guadalupe Resale Shop

Donation bins cause confusion, concern for nonprofits

Donation bins cause confusion, concern for nonprofits

guadalupe resale shop inventoryRecently, donation bins have been popping up in parking lots across Southwest Florida. 

These unattended metal bins, which resemble oversized postal boxes, share two common elements: they often feature green colors to promote recycling and many incorporate the word “donate” so people think they’re helping a good cause. 

In many cases, though, these donations bins are not directly supporting a charitable cause. In fact, some bins are providing inventory for businesses that resell those donations for a profit. 

For example, for-profit textile recycling companies based in Tampa and Davie have donation bins in Southwest Florida to collect clothing and shoes. Meanwhile, a for-profit book retailer headquartered in Indiana also has a trio of local donation bins to collect used books, which are then resold online. 

In each case, these businesses are upfront in noting they are for-profit entities that donate an undisclosed portion of their sales to charitable causes. Potential donors can donate goods directly to a nonprofit, though, and have 100% of proceeds support that cause.

Four Tips

As these parking lot donation bins become commonplace in Collier and Lee counties, it’s important to keep these four tips in mind: 

  • Consider local nonprofits: Dozens of reputable nonprofits and churches in Southwest Florida operate resale stores and thrift shops, including Guadalupe Center, St. Matthew’s House, Avow, Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity and others. They rely on quality donations to stock shelves, and every sale helps support the cause. Sales generated at Guadalupe Resale Shop, for instance, account for 9% of Guadalupe Center’s annual funding, money that supports life-changing educational programs for students in Immokalee. 
  • Research who is behind the donation bin: A little sleuthing and a quick Google search can reveal the organization that maintains a donation bin. In the cases above, each name listed comes back to a dot-com, a tell-tale sign that it’s a business venture. Donors essentially are providing these companies with inventory or raw materials.
  • Don’t leave donations exposed to the elements: Resale shop volunteers and staff will help supporters unpack donations and provide a tax receipt during business hours. Do not leave donations unattended outside of a thrift store or donation bin. A box of moldy, waterlogged donations, including a winter coat, clothing and purse, was recently spotted on the ground near one of these bins, effectively rendering the donation worthless.
  • Know what nonprofits want or don’t want: Secondhand shops want quality donations that fetch higher resale prices, but not every shop accepts electronics, office furniture, baby clothing or other items. Check their wish list prior to packing donation boxes. 

It’s uncertain whether for-profits’ donation bins are having a noticeable impact on resale shops run by nonprofits. However, every book, dress or suit jacket that goes into one of these bins is a donation that does not have a chance to help local nonprofits fulfill their missions and enhance the lives of the community members they serve. 

kat mcnabb– By Kat McNabb, Manager of Guadalupe Resale Shop

Guadalupe Center launches ‘Stepping Stones’ campaign

Guadalupe Center launches ‘Stepping Stones’ campaign

Guadalupe Center - van Otterloo Family Campus for LearningGuadalupe Center has announced a new campaign, Stepping Stones to the Future, that allows supporters to help launch an educational journey for students in Immokalee. 

Stepping Stones allows supporters to purchase personalized brick pavers that will be installed in walkways and courtyards at the new van Otterloo Family Campus for Learning, which will open in spring 2022. 

“We want to fill the campus with messages of hope and encouragement so children know they have the full support of this community,” said Dawn Montecalvo, president of Guadalupe Center. “Stepping Stones is a campaign that will have a lasting impact for years to come because an investment in education is an investment that transforms lives today, tomorrow and beyond.” 

Three types of personalized brick pavers are available: 

  • 8 inches by 8 inches: taupe engraved brick 
  • 9 inches by 12 inches: taupe engraved brick (includes option for corporate logo) 
  • 12 inches by 12 inches: beige engraved brick (includes option for corporate logo) 

The van Otterloo Family Campus for Learning will feature two academic buildings with multiple classrooms, a library, learning lab, cafeteria and kitchen, playground, administrative offices, mentor lounges, commons areas, a medical and dental suite, outdoor gardens and a student wall of fame. 

For years, Guadalupe Center has maintained a waiting list of more than 500 students for seats in its nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program. In 2020, Guadalupe Center opened the Monaghan Family Early Childhood Education Campus, which accommodates 66 children from infancy through 3 years old. The van Otterloo campus will accommodate up to 154 Early Childhood Education students. It also will become home to Guadalupe Center’s college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program, providing students and staff with access to a learning lab, meeting rooms and spaces for collaboration. 

Both new campuses were funded by philanthropic support secured through Guadalupe Center: 2020 & Beyond, a comprehensive campaign to provide life-changing, transformational programs for additional students in Immokalee. 

For more information or to purchase a Stepping Stone, please contact Nzinga King at NKing@GuadalupeCenter.org or 239-657-7124.  

Guadalupe Center celebrates 200th alumni to earn college degree

Guadalupe Center Celebrates 200th Alumni to Earn College Degree

Immokalee is a close-knit, rural community comprised of hard workers who value family, friendship and a spirit of service.

Historically, though, Immokalee’s educational attainment rate lags behind many communities. U.S. Census data show just 5% of Immokalee adults have a bachelor’s degree. That rate is among the lowest in America and substantially less than Naples’ average of 57%.

mateo alexander mateo mateo (option 2)That’s what makes Guadalupe Center’s latest accomplishment a milestone worth celebrating. This summer, the nonprofit cheered as Mateo Alexander Mateo-Mateo became its 200th alumni to earn a college degree. It took just a few days for Guadalupe Center to note its next college graduate, and then the next one, and then the next one.

In addition to the 200-plus graduates as of this summer, an additional 122 additional students were still enrolled at colleges and universities around the country. Another 30 seniors from Immokalee High School’s Class of 2021 also headed to campus this fall.

In 2017, Mateo-Mateo completed Guadalupe Center’s college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program, which provides Immokalee High School students with college and career readiness, ACT and SAT test prep, mentorships, financial literacy and scholarship assistance, as well as wages for tutoring younger students.

Mateo-Mateo, 22, completed the bachelor’s degree portion of his accounting program this spring at the University of Missouri and will earn a master’s degree next year. Over the summer, he completed an internship with an investment bank based in New York City. Although he admits the thought of going from a small, impoverished town to working on Wall Street would be a challenge, he keeps referencing an old adage.

“If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” Mateo-Mateo says.

Guadalupe Center’s mission is breaking the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee. Although Mateo-Mateo is still writing his story, Guadalupe Center is excited about his future, as well as the next set of Tutor Corps students starting college. The Class of 2021 set a record with $4 million in scholarship offers and grants.

We celebrate high school graduates as they head off to college and college graduates as they start their careers. Dozens of alumni have returned to Immokalee as educators, doctors, financial professionals, health care specialists, engineers, public service workers and business leaders.

The pipeline of college graduates will transform Immokalee. Education has a direct correlation to poverty, so the lower the educational attainment rate, the higher the poverty rate, and vice versa. Census data show more than 37% of Immokalee residents live in poverty compared to just 8% in Naples. Education brings individuals, families and communities out of poverty.

van Otterloo Family Campus for Learning

Guadalupe Center will honor Tutor Corps college graduates on its Tutor Corps Wall of Fame at the van Otterloo Family Campus for Learning, a new educational campus under construction in Immokalee. The Wall of Fame will be a key feature of Brynne & Bob Coletti Hall, the new home for the Tutor Corps Program.

Mateo-Mateo hopes his story, as well as those of other Tutor Corps graduates, shows the youth of Immokalee that the possibilities are endless through education.

“You can do whatever you want to in life, but you have to clench your teeth and do 100% honest work to get there,” Mateo-Mateo said.

200th alumni– By Dawn Montecalvo, President of Guadalupe Center.