Guadalupe Center raises expectations, support at Elevate

youth performers at elevate

Hundreds of community, business and philanthropic leaders rose up in support of Guadalupe Center at Elevate Endless Possibilities, the nonprofit’s signature fundraising gala.

Held Jan. 19 at The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Tiburón, Elevate featured dinner, cocktails, performances by children and professional singers, passionate student speeches and a spirited live auction that featured exclusive experiences, culinary masterpieces, top-shelf wines, spectacular sightseeing excursions and more. The gala concluded with the highly anticipated Jump Up for Education, an interactive call to action that allows attendees to pledge donations and jump up in support of Guadalupe Center.

“Our guests elevated our gala by demonstrating their unwavering support for Guadalupe Center and our goal of using education to create a cycle of prosperity,” said Guadalupe Center President Dawn Montecalvo. “Education is changing the trajectory of children’s lives in Immokalee, as well as families and the entire community.”

Elevate, chaired by Debbie and Bill Toler, raised more than $1.4 million to support three programs: the nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program.

Immokalee High School Senior Nallely Segura delivered an emotional speech about picking tomatoes side-by-side with her parents each summer, struggling just to make ends meet. The aspiring doctor recognizes that education offers the best chance at a brighter future.

“It is the key to freeing myself from the chains of poverty,” she said.

Fellow Immokalee High Senior Widme Victorin delivered a speech of his own to a virtual audience, connecting with supporters near and far. Victorin’s mother passed away in 2020, and he has been channeling that emotional experience to become the best version of himself. He started playing basketball during his junior year, learning that not everything comes easy.

“You’re not going to get everything you want in your life, so you have to work with what you have and improve your situation,” he said.

Guadalupe Center aims to create endless possibilities for students in Immokalee, and a successful signature fundraising gala helps fuel programs that serve more than 1,750 students annually.

Elevate’s presenting sponsor was Moorings Park Grande Lake, a project by London Bay Development Group. Additional sponsors included Seminole Casino Hotel; Toler Foundation; Waterside Shops; Preferred Travel of Naples; Merrill; The Cenname Team Private Wealth Management; LCEC; Dee & Associates, CPAs; Carter; Florida Weekly; Gulfshore Life and NABOR.

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