Success is the result of hard work, persistence and courage. These are three fundamental qualities Juanita Martinez, program director at the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County, hopes to instill in the minds of Immokalee high school students. Martinez will be one of the speakers at “The End Game,” a discussion hosted by Lipman Family Farms on Thursday, Sept. 20 from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Immokalee High School auditorium on 701 Immokalee Drive.
The event aims to educate Immokalee juniors and seniors on the evolving definition of success, the various paths to achieving success and the potential they have to affect the future of Immokalee. Many of the expert panelists identify first-hand with what it’s like to be an Immokalee student with the drive to find their own success.
Martinez, a daughter to migrant parents, was raised in the tight-knit rural farming community of Immokalee. While opportunities are often scarce or overlooked in Immokalee, Martinez was fortunate to have a family that motivated her to achieve her dreams of obtaining a college education.
After graduating from the University of South Florida in Tampa with both a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in public administration, her path to success was undefined. Unsure of her next move, Martinez was inspired to visit 26 countries around the world, each reminding her of the hardships that students in Immokalee face every day.
“So much of what I experienced reminded me of Immokalee, and how the opportunities are so limited for children here,” Martinez said.
Armed with an education and a passion to help her community, Martinez made the decision to return to her hometown.
“Traveling made me realize I could make a difference in the world, and I could start by doing it here,” she said.
Now, Martinez strives to improve the lives of Immokalee students through her work at the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County and through events like the Lipman Family Farms’ “The End Game.”
“If we get people from the community to actually work in the community, they will stay because their passion is to give back to Immokalee,” Martinez said. “We’re trying to plant those seeds in the youth now, so they can grow up and realize that there are so many opportunities for them.”
“The End Game” will feature two separate panel discussions called #Findingmyway and #Bringitback.
Panelists for #Findingyourway will discuss how they define success for themselves, their personal stories of working towards achieving it, and the challenges they’ve faced throughout their journey. The panelists include:
- Sylvia Delgado, director of social services at Family Health Centers of Southwest Florida
- Jesus Abarca Jr., operations manager at Lipman Family Farms
- Walter Salazar, owner of Walter Salazar’s Pest Control
- Kayla Garcia, assistant store manager of guest engagement at Altar’d State
The panel for #Bringitback is made up of individuals who returned to their hometown of Immokalee after finding success. These speakers will share their personal experiences and why they decided to return to the community. They’ll also discuss the many barriers Immokalee still needs to overcome as a community. The panelists include:
- Abel Jaimes, director of Title 1 for Federal, State, and Competitive Grants
- Maria Plata, career and internship coordinator for The Immokalee Foundation
- Miranda Rueda, manager of employee relations and benefits at Lipman Family Farms
- Juanita Martinez, program director of Boys and Girls Club of Collier County, Bolch Campus
For more information on “The End Game” or other events hosted by Lipman Family Farms, contact Jaime Weisinger at 239-657-4421 or Jaime.Weisinger@lipmanfamilyfarms.com.