NAPLES, Fla. — “They have to pick tomatoes.” Those are the words of 11-year-old Gabriela Escobar Reyes - describing her parents’ daily routine. They are farm workers who leave Naples early in the morning to get to Immokalee - where they work - and return later in the evening.
When she finishes school, Gabriela attends the Gargiulo Education Center in Naples. The center has helped children for more than 23 years and provides after-school care to children of agricultural workers.
“Those families are bussed back and forth to Immokalee every day”, Mary Asta tells FOX 4. She is the organization’s executive director and says the group works hard to create an educational environment that supports students while their parents travel home.
Asta says 10 certified teachers support students through academic assistance and life skills training - like managing a checkbook. Gabriela says what happens at the center makes a difference.
“If I do homework at my house, my dad won’t like understand because it’s in English and he learned differently in Mexico.” There’s limited space at the center.
Mary says the center lost a teaching area due to damage beyond repair. “Sometimes, we have to ask some of the older kids to leave because there isn’t enough space,” Asta says.
That’s why they’re now working to raise $2.2 million to purchase a building near their current center - close to the homes of the students they serve. Meanwhile, students continue to attend at the current center until a purchase can happen.
You can learn more about the Gargiulo Center at https://gargiuloed.org/.