RCMA’s Padilla honored for hurricane response

Gloria Padilla – an RCMA executive who exhausted herself helping fellow Immokalee residents recover from Hurricane Irma – has been recognized for her selflessness in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Gloria is an exemplary citizen who has chosen to use her many talents in service of those around her,” said U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, in a statement entered into the Congressional Record on March 15.

Padilla is an Immokalee native who manages the seven child-care centers that RCMA operates in Immokalee and Bonita Springs.

When Hurricane Irma struck Immokalee in September, Padilla opened the RCMA Immokalee Community School as an unofficial shelter for staff and families who live in trailers. She and RCMA coworkers commandeered the RCMA school cafeteria and oversaw meals for thousands of people. FEMA set up shop there and accepted more than 1,000 applications for assistance. Padilla worked with Diaz-Balart to open Horizon Village as temporary housing for families who lost their homes.

Diaz-Balart was impressed. He wrote in the Congressional Record, “I find myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to collaborate with such a dedicated individual who cares so deeply about her community.”

Thursday’s presentation was a surprise for Padilla, who was attending ceremonies celebrating a $13-million federal infrastructure grant for Immokalee. She was grateful to Diaz-Balart for the honor.

“But really,” Padilla added, “this was a team effort for the whole community. I share this acknowledgement with everybody who helped.”

The Immokalee Bulletin is published every Thursday.

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