The Guadalupe Center’s signature event, Taste of New York, raised a grand total of $760,000 to support educational programs for the children of Immokalee.
The evening gala, held Jan. 15 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, included a sold-out crowd of 430 guests bidding on exclusive auction items including celebrity lunches, behind-the-scene tours, luxurious high-fashion jewelry, spa packages and more.
Bidding reached an all-time high during the live auction when professional auctioneer Laurien Hessels-Schroeder, previously with Christie’s, introduced a pair of custom diamond earrings by designer William Boyajian of Port Royal Jewelers.
Receiving the single largest bid of the evening at $26,000, “The Guardian” earrings were inspired by the devotion of the Guadalupe Center’s staff and supporters and feature three components: an owl, a child and the flight. The images represent a child safely tucked on the back of an owl, his guardian of support during his journey in life.
This year’s “Jump Up” of on-the-spot donations brought in more than $100,000 to support Guadalupe Center’s Early Childhood Education program.
“The ECE program is the first step in breaking the cycle of poverty through education,” said Barbara Oppenheim, president of Guadalupe Center. “Because of our generous patrons and supporters, we’re able to provide more opportunities for a better future for our children of Immokalee.”
Taste of New York festivities also included a welcome reception for guests to meet high school students enrolled in Guadalupe Center’s Tutor Corps program and hear first-hand, personal stories about their challenges, hopes and dreams.
“There was so much positive energy and excitement in the room as guests heard the testimonials of students whose lives have been forever changed by their involvement in our programs,” said Brandon Dowdy, vice president of development for Guadalupe Center. “This past year, we celebrated 23 Tutor Corps graduates who are now enrolled in colleges around the country. We’re thankful to the many patrons who have helped make that possible.”
Guest speaker Dulce Mendoza, a Tutor Corps student, credited Guadalupe Center’s dedicated mentors and board members for encouraging her and helping to eliminate barriers.
“Students like Dulce are the real stars of the evening,” said Oppenheim. “To hear her struggles and see how far she has come really demonstrates the impact you can make on a child’s life by investing in their future.”
Taste of New York sponsors were Arthrex, Ametek, The David E. Meyer Trust, Dunwody White & Landon, P.A., Gulfshore Life, London Bay Homes, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Group, Naples Daily News and Sabadell Bank.
Guadalupe Center is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty. For more than 30 years, the nonprofit organization has been serving the children and families of Immokalee. Its innovative early childhood education, after-school tutoring, community mentoring and college scholarship programs have earned national recognition, including the top four star rating by Charity Navigator, America’s leading independent charity evaluator.
For more information, call 239-657-7711 or visit www.guadalupecenter.org.