Jimmy Garvin: Out of Immokalee’s fertile soil

The talent that comes out of Immokalee cannot be overestimated.

Sports has been an amazing arena for local young people and has provided more than a few with lifetime opportunities. Yes, Immokaleeans love their sports – football, basketball, soccer – but what about golf? It’s just not in the top few sports that come to mind in this town.

The Immokalee community is supporting Jimmy Garvin’s lastest project - a made for TV movie on his life. Pictured with Jimmy, at left, is Chamber of Commerce President Danny Gonzalez. (submitted photo)

The Immokalee community is supporting Jimmy Garvin’s lastest project – a made for TV movie on his life. Pictured with Jimmy, at left, is Chamber of Commerce President Danny Gonzalez. (submitted photo)

Even so, one of Immokalee’s most gifted alumni has made an international name for himself in that sport. James “Jimmy” Garvin Jr., has spent his entire adult life involved in golf and particularly in fostering a love for that sport in young people.

At I.H.S. he was a three sport All Star in Collier County – baseball, basketball and football. He also excelled in music. But after graduating from Howard University he became a food-service executive with the Marriott Corporation and eventually accepted a position with Golf Course Specialists to become the general manager at Langston Golf Course in Washington, D.C. He rebuilt the historic course, established in 1939 by the Department of Interior for black golfers who could not play on the city’s segregated courses. Jimmy’s hard work and initiative rescued the course from obscurity and created a facility that attracts golfers from the entire area. He lives in Maryland and works in the Washington, D.C. area.

He is President of the Jimmy Garvin Legacy Foundation and mentor to the Jimmy Garvin All Stars Golf Team. Jimmy Garvin is a winner for sure, but the road is still bumpy. In true winner fashion, he struggled to overcome a legal setback. That led him to write a book, Legacy of a Common Man: The Walk Was Uphill, published by Christian Living Books in September 2015. It is available on Amazon as a Kindle book and paperback.

He is currently general manager and co-owner of the Marlton Golf Course in Maryland and late last year began a 16-week golf program at a Catholic school, teaching the love of the game to 6-13 year olds.

Shortly after he started this project he hooked up with faculty member Marvin Reid, who is also a screenwriter. Jimmy’s idea for a made-for-TV movie struck a chord with Mr. Reid and the project was on. Now, this Immokalee native has another amazing project. He’s making a movie about his life and he’s going to make it right here in Immokalee.

Jimmy himself is serving as Executive Producer and has given Mr, Reid authority to assemble the team for the project including a director, producer, casting agent, editor, cinematographer, production design and art design.

You might think an unfamiliar project like this would be pretty daunting to anyone, but after the initial jitters (“How can I pull this off?”) Jimmy looked back at his life and thought ,“The hard part’s done!”

Growing up in poverty, Jimmy found the support he needed from people like Ms. Florence Jelks, former principal of Pinecrest Elementary School, who took him in as her Godchild, and so many others. He’s spent decades as a successful golf manager and mentor for kids who would otherwise have little or no incentives to set and reach life goals. Now it’s time for him to tell his story – how an ordinary man moved forward.

Recently, Jimmy met with a select group of community leaders in Immokalee to get their input on doing this movie. People like Chamber of Commerce President Danny Gonzalez, CRA- Acting Director Christie Bentancourt, retired Public Administrator Fred Thomas, Pam Brown (a member of one of the first families of Immokalee), tomato producer Josh Rincon, retired Social Worker Lucy Ortiz, retired school Principal Rick Heers and retired Registered Dietitian Cherryle Thomas all continue sharing their various gifts and skills with Immokalee and provided their input into the movie plans.

Jimmy’s screen writers will be coming to Immokalee in the coming weeks to get a feel for how to write Jimmy’s early life story. Old photos and Immokaleeans themselves will help give this made for TV movie authenticity. In the coming weeks other community members, from Immokalee’s various cultures, will be contacted for their input.

Like so much he’s done over the years, Immokalee son Jimmy Garvin hopes that this movie will inspire others through his life.

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