Guadalupe Center creates Resource Hub to coordinate community support

Posted 7/28/23

Grant from Collier Community Foundation springboards nonprofit into action.

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Guadalupe Center creates Resource Hub to coordinate community support


NAPLES — Guadalupe Center has established the Guadalupe Resource Hub, a storage and distribution center that will securely house essentials like food, clothing and hygiene items for families in Immokalee.

Supported through a $300,000 grant from Collier Community Foundation’s Collier Comes Together Hurricane Relief Fund, Guadalupe Center purchased a warehouse to store donated and in-kind items, including books, school supplies, hygiene items, toys and games, food, clothing, furniture, cleaning supplies, tools, office supplies and more. The 3,000-square-foot warehouse is conveniently located near Guadalupe Center’s Monaghan Family Early Childhood Education Campus in Immokalee.

“Guadalupe Center started nearly 40 years ago as a soup kitchen and has evolved into an education-focused organization that now delivers high-quality education to nearly 1,950 students annually,” said Guadalupe Center President Dawn Montecalvo. “Families in Immokalee need support that extends beyond education, though, so we are working with partners to break down barriers our families face. Having the ability to quickly address issues like food insecurity and basic essentials ensures our students’ needs are met and helps keep our focus on building strong educational foundations for them.”

After Hurricane Irma in 2017, Guadalupe Center and Montecalvo took a leadership role in establishing the Immokalee Unmet Needs Coalition, helping coordinate communication among agencies serving Immokalee families hit hardest by the storm. Coalition team members went street-by-street to conduct needs assessments, coordinate requests for support, provide donations to families, manage volunteer groups, address housing needs, and coordinate spiritual and emotional care. That work continued through the pandemic and Hurricane Ian.

Dozens of charitable organizations operate in Immokalee, which has one of the state’s highest poverty rates at 28.4% of households, but many agencies suffer from the lack of resources and limited storage space. Guadalupe Center, for instance, temporarily stores donated goods in cafeteria spaces and empty offices.

“In Southwest Florida, most industrial buildings and warehouses are located closer to I-75 and U.S. 41, so available warehouse space in Immokalee is extremely difficult to find,” Montecalvo said. “Guadalupe Center partners with many agencies in Immokalee that want to help and can procure truckloads of goods, but have nowhere to store them. This Guadalupe Resource Hub will allow Guadalupe Center to be a community leader as we continue supporting Immokalee families and nonprofit partner organizations however we can.”

The Collier Community Foundation, which manages more than 850 funds, works with hundreds of nonprofits and has granted more than $310 million to nonprofit organizations, community programs and scholarships. Collier Comes Together provided immediate relief to those affected by Hurricane Ian and local nonprofits that support victims in the aftermath of a crisis. After meeting immediate post-storm needs like food, water and shelter, the Hurricane Relief Fund turned its focus to housing, transportation and other long-term needs.

“The purpose of our Collier Comes Together Fund is not only for relief, rebuild and repair, but also for mitigation,” said Eileen Connolly-Keesler, Collier Community Foundation president and CEO. “We have to think ahead about how to prepare for the next storm or disaster. The Guadalupe Resource Hub is a perfect example of forward thinking.”

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