The Immokalee Foundation students need more mentors for advice and fun

(Submitted photo) The Immokalee Foundation Mentor Movie Day mentors and mentees.

NAPLES – Mentorship is an essential part of The Immokalee Foundation’s programs and summer is the time for interested adults to experience how rewarding the mentor relationship can be.

“My mentees teach me so much about their cultures, interests and hopes for the future,” said Joni Hodapp, an Immokalee Foundation mentor since March 2018.

Caring adults who can encourage and guide these young people in middle and high school are vital to the students’ success as the foundation program continue to grow and expand.

The process is simple: A foundation mentor is matched with a student from seventh to twelfth grade and commits to meeting with their mentee for at least one-year, once a week for a minimum of 15 half-hour sessions throughout the school year. This works extremely well for seasonal residents who are the majority of our mentors. The student may have questions about homework, a career, friends or another topic. The mentor shares their knowledge and life experience – and perhaps proficiency in math or another school subject once in a while.

Some of the students come from homes in which they will be the first to attend college. Having an adult who has navigated some of the experiences their parents didn’t is valuable.

Mentors and mentees see each other at events throughout the year as well. One that has become a tradition is Mentor Movie Day. This past spring, more than 100 students and mentors met for this casual social event at Coconut Point mall for lunch and a screening of “A Dog’s Way Home.”

Several Immokalee Foundation mentors said the movie day provides an opportunity to build closer bonds with their mentees. “I loved having the time and a different venue to meet with my mentee,” said Hodapp.

Immokalee High School junior Alondra Salazar, Hodapp’s mentee, participated in Mentor Movie Day. Salazar said she appreciates Hodapp’s “interest in my life goals and the way she shares life advice.” Salazar added that she’s happy to be a part of The Immokalee Foundation because of the many opportunities the foundation’s programs make available.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to professional careers through support, mentoring and tutoring, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, becoming a mentor, its signature events, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit

The Immokalee Bulletin is published every Thursday.

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