Teens fill the volunteer void as seniors wait out COVID-19

Guadalupe Resale Shop

Volunteers play a critical role in helping charitable organizations carry out their missions. 

At Guadalupe Resale Shop, for example, more than 100 dedicated volunteers process donations, price items, stock shelves and assist customers. Their hard work helps the Resale Shop generate revenue to support education programs at Guadalupe Center in Immokalee. 

Many volunteers at the Resale Shop, as well as nonprofits across our community, are retirees. While we appreciate their assistance, seniors are a high-risk group that the CDC is urging to limit their outside interactions to protect against COVID-19. Meanwhile, seasonal residents who volunteer have returned north for the summer. 

So who is stepping up to fill their shoes as nonprofits continue serving those in need? 

Teenagers have answered the call at Guadalupe Resale Shop. This summer, a number of students in Guadalupe Center’s college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program – including Diyanara GalvanGisselle Hernandez, Karina MuñozRosaura Munoz-Luna and Olivia Vazquez-Reyes – have been traveling from Immokalee to Naples, where they’re helping to fill the volunteer void. 

“Tutor Corps students typically can earn wages through Guadalupe Center during the summer months by tutoring children, but our programs have been closed because of COVID-19,” said Sheila Oxx, director of the Tutor Corps Program. “Instead, we are providing them professional, paid positions that offer opportunities to learn how to run a retail business and nonprofit at the same time.” 

Students, each clad in a protective face mask, have assumed traditional volunteer duties inside the showroom. They’re also responsible for creating a safe shopping experience for supporters. 

“I chose to work at the Resale Shop because it provides benefits for those that need it in my own community,” said Muñoz, a 2020 graduate of Immokalee High School and incoming freshman at Florida SouthWestern State College. 

“I decided to take this opportunity to experience something new and give back to the community as well,” added Galvan, a rising senior at Immokalee High School. 

Proceeds from sales at the Resale Shop have allowed Guadalupe Center to continue growing its nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and Tutor Corps Program. Guadalupe Center’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee. 

In a sense, these students are giving back to an organization that is giving back to them. Their investment of time is an investment in their own futures. Skills they are learning at the Resale Shop, like professionalism, customer service, time management, organization and accounting, are the same skills they’ll bring to college and ultimately into their careers. 

Volunteers are the lifeblood of any organization, and as seniors heed advice to limit their interactions, it’s incumbent upon others within our community to rise to the challenge. These five hardworking teenagers have allowed the Resale Shop to remain in operation, and thus, continue providing financial support to Guadalupe Center. 

Guadalupe Resale Shop– By Kat McNabb, manager of Guadalupe Resale Shop