Florida’s First Lady visits children’s learning center in Immokalee

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A special visitor is helping to shine a light on the work a local center is doing to help kids in Immokalee.

Hundreds of children in SWFL are benefiting from the Guadalupe Center. And on Monday, some of them had the chance to meet Florida’s First Lady, Ann Scott.

The visit started with a tour of the facility and ended with Scott reading to a group of kids in the Early Childhood Education Program.

“Reading was so important to me when I started having children of my own. I wanted to share my love of reading with them,” Scott said.

Now, she’s sharing it with children from across the state of Florida.

“For adults to have that kind of passion, she can leverage her place in our state to highlight the importance of early learning so it’s very exciting to us,” said Susan Block with the Early Learning Coalition of SWFL.

The Guadalupe Center is a non-profit working to educate children in the community from birth all the way through high school. There are 300 children total, with the goal being to give them the chance to learn and break the cycle of poverty.

“Think about a garden, think about a garden without water, without fertilizer, without sunshine. It doesn’t grow. That’s what fertilizes their minds in order to prepare them to be readers,” Block said.

The center also helps high school students with after school programs that help them earn scholarship money.

“We have over 130 students in college at this point and over 130 students working in the community,” said Dawn Montecalvo with the Guadalupe Center. “We are providing the next generation of learners.”

The center says the need for services is growing. Right now, there are 540 students on the waiting list. They hope to expand in the next three years.

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