Founder of Gemstones in the Making, Gulfshore Life’s woman of the year

Reporter: Taylor Petras Writer: Carolina Guzman
Published: Updated:

One woman used her struggles as a teenager to help young girls in our community by giving them gemstones.

“The stronger sense of self that we have, the more confident we walk in life,” said Claribel Bocanegra, the founder of Gemstones in the Making.

Bocanegra is being honored as a Woman of the Year by our partners at Gulfshore Life.

“I have a miracle, faith, fearless and blessed,” said Bocanegra.

Positive affirmations that are strategically selected and placed on an elastic bracelet.

“Sometimes we wake up, and we’re not feeling like we’re 10 percent, so sometimes just looking at a reminder of our greatness, of our potential,” said Bocanegra.

It’s one activity Bocanegra does with the Dunbar Diamonds. The group meets with Bocanegra once or twice a month.

Her goal for them? Understand that a community is here to elevate them, support them and provide resources for them to understand they are not alone in their journey.

These girls are in the international baccalaureate program at Dunbar High School. Bocenegra gives the diamonds the tools they need to cope with the stress and be successful.

From meditation to journaling and time management skills.

“She’s going to set up an internship for me to see that and just to like a shadow. She’s just amazing. She’s always here and hugs us. It makes my day better,” said Destinee Johnson, a Dunbar High School senior.

“It’s always nice to have someone understand what you’re going through and uplift you and motivate you throughout whatever you’re doing,” said Cynthia Mauvas, a Dunbar High School senior.

And Bocanegra understands.

Her family moved to Fort Myers from Puerto Rico when she was 16.

“And I was that teenager that felt lost, that was angry at life. I didn’t know where to ask for help or who to ask for help,” said Bocanegra.

So now she’s giving the diamonds, which she didn’t have growing up. Someone to help, encourage and empower them.

“It’s like flowers,” said Bocanegra. “They kind of start like a little bud, and you see them opening up, speaking with a little more confidence, being just a little more secure about themselves and their self-image as well.”

Bocanegra said she is working to expand gemstones in the making to more schools.

They have plans to go to Lehigh Senior. They also provide scholarships for students who are immigrants and don’t qualify for financial aid.

You can read more about Bocanegra and our other men and women of the year honorees in this month’s issue of Gulfshore Life.

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