Davenport named Co-Grand Marshall

Jeff Davenport was named co-grand marshall. (Submitted photo)

Jeff Davenport will serve as the Co-Grand Marshall of the Christmas Parade with the family of Floyd Crews.

Here is Jeff’s story as told by him: In the late 1960’s, my parents moved from North Carolina to Immokalee as migrants, my dad was a produce inspector. I was born at Naples Community Hospital and quickly shipped back to Immokalee, to the Starling Trailer Park to be exact. Having three kids in school, and being migrants, soon gave cause to seek a new job opportunity. My parents started their own business mowing lawns, this led to opening the nursery on Lake Trafford Rd. In the early 80’s my dad was diagnosed with cancer, he was accepted to participate in an experimental treatment, which meant he had to travel to Baltimore, MD where the experiment took place. As my mom traveled with him to care for him during these treatments, my sister, brother and I had to stay in Immokalee, go to school and continue running the business. Many people in Immokalee, from the Methodist Church and elsewhere, brought meals to our family, some invited us into their homes and helped take care of us through this time. This allowed my mom to care for my dad without having to worry about whether or not we were being cared for.

My parents demonstrated a genuine love for each other, they worked hard establishing their business, and continued to be the best of friends. Their love for each other, for God, their church and others are what helped inspire me to be who I am today. As well, my in-laws made a big impact on my life by accepting me into their family and showing me a love that I know I was undeserving of. This love could only be explained by the love that God has for us. I’m grateful for their relationship with God and the way that they have demonstrated their love and acceptance of me.

When I was 17, and about to graduate high school, facing an unplanned pregnancy was not a responsibility that I was ready for. I had a difficult decision to make, whether to marry her or live my life my way. The examples that were set before us by our parents gave us something to work for and we decided to take that risk and do what we could to make it work. 29 years and 6 kids later we are stronger than ever. The love that my wife showed our kids was extended to accept any of their friends into our lives and home. As a result we have four that have remained close to our family, their kids are our grandkids, we have loved them and accepted them as a constant in our lives.

As a kid I grew up playing Little League baseball it became important to me to give back to the community that gave me so much. It was obvious to me that an important way for me to give back was through coaching baseball. I spent more than 20 years volunteering as a coach, umpire and board member with the Immokalee Little League. I was a coach for AWANA games at First Baptist Church, where we competed against other churches in Southwest Florida. In 2003, my older son Spencer was a freshman at Immokalee High, I became aware that the head varsity baseball coach was not going to have a JV team (a feeder team). This was where I stepped into a new adventure and talked this coach into having a JV team and allowing me to coach it. I volunteered at the high school as a JV coach, and as an assistant coach and eventually taking the position as the head coach for a total of seven years, before returning back to little league.

I’ve watched so many move out of town, people who invested a lot of time into the community, very few ever return to make it better.

Immokalee is a special place, there’s truly no place like it. To me, giving back is what keeps Immokalee unique. Taking the experiences that you’ve had, learning from them and teaching what you’ve learned to the youth of Immokalee in hopes that they will listen, that is what drives me to continue volunteering in Immokalee…Immokalee is my HOME!

The Immokalee Bulletin is published every Thursday.

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