Immokalee Inter-Agency Council (IIAC)

                            Monthly Newsletter

                                     July 2005

The IIAC Newsletter is a member information resource and not intended to shape opinion.  Ideas expressed are those of the information provider and might not reflect the views of the membership in general.  Please send comments, recommendations and articles to: (preferably) or mail to:  Diane Christianson, Bethune Education Center, 614 S. 5th Street, Immokalee, FL 34142 Phone (239) 377-9906 Fax (239) 377-9912 (Local phone 658-7064)


FARM WORKERS HAVE RIGHTS TOO – Marcus Viles, Atty., July 13 IIAC Guest Speaker


“For too long, there has been a disregard for the rights of farm workers due to the lack of enforced regulation in the agriculture industry. Some farm workers might not be aware of their rights or think their rights don’t count because they are poor, not American citizens, or legal workers, but the truth is America would be financially crippled if it were not for the backbone of migrant farm workers.”


“Farm workers are far more powerful and have much greater rights than they could possibly imagine. The law provides equal rights for immigrants and citizens alike in U.S. courts. Freedom from poisonous chemicals, a minimum wage, fair and clean housing, and a safe workplace are rights that are all guaranteed to Mexicans visiting the United States,” says Attorney Marcus Viles.


Viles has started a new movement called the Migrant Farm Worker Empowerment Project. The project uses the combined efforts of political activists, the media, attorneys, and local businesses to advance the rights of migrant workers and their families through litigation, educational articles, and meetings. 


Today farm workers are packed in trailers and severely overcharged for the poor quality of housing they receive. Federal law states that for each person living in a home or trailer, there must be 50 square feet of living space.


Farm workers deserve the right to know the dangers associated with their job and learn how to protect themselves from them. According to Viles, agricultural work is among the most dangerous occupations with injuries and illness disabling farm workers at a rate of three times that of the general population.


Over a quarter million farm workers in the US are poisoned by pesticides annually,” says Viles.  The workers themselves are not the only ones who are affected by these poisons; they can actually be absorbed into the worker’s bloodstream causing illness or even birth defects in their children. The more someone is exposed to pesticides the greater the risk is to their health and the health of their children. “Another example of protective measures is requiring workers to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as a respirator or chemical resistant gloves, or not allowing workers to enter treated crop fields until a specific period of time has passed.” recommends the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


To learn more about the Migrant Farm Worker Empowerment Project, please attend the Immokalee Interagency Council Meeting on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 to hear Marcus W. Viles speak on migrant worker’s rights. Facts:


●              Florida tomato production exceeds $400 million annually.

●              75% of farm workers earn less than $10,000 per year

●              The average tomato picker makes $7,500 per year while the average Floridian earns nearly three times that amount.

●              Since 1978, the wages of some Immokalee farm workers has only been raised by a few pennies per bucket

●              12 to 18 reportable birth defects occur in Immokalee each year.  Risk = Toxicity x Exposure



Thanks to Monica Gomez de Ramos, June’s IIAC speaker for providing regional Hispanic demographic information and the efforts of Telemundo WWDT-TV43 to reach that audience.  They are open to plan local shows according to community needs and requests.  Telemundo would be happy to work with Immokalee Interagency members who provide valuable services in the community for reduced prices.  Monica mentioned that she is honored to come to the IIAC meeting because she can feel that we all work with heart.  Silvia Puente from the library confirmed that we can see local shows such as D’latinos in Immokalee, which remained a question at the meeting.  Monica also talked about Hispanic culture, including the popularity of viewing ‘foto novelas’.  Contact:  239-498-4368


Plan ahead for August’s business meeting.  Bring your survey and suggestions.  September’s guest speaker, Lynda C. Dotson, M.A., represents the Division of Blind Services.


It’s summer!  Bring your brown bag lunch to the next meeting if you can’t dine before or afterwards. 

(NOTE:  One Stop Career and Service Center Conference rooms are “self-serve.”  Filtered water is available. Please remove trash and return chairs to their original arrangement for the next group. Thanks.)


FEATURE ARTICLE         “Let Freedom Ring” Celebration August 6, 2005       


“Let Freedom Ring” celebration August 6, 2005.   Immokalee Weed and Seed is in the planning stage of the 3rd Annual “Let Freedom Ring” celebration on Saturday August 6th, 2005 in partnership with local businesses and agencies.


This spectacular event brings awareness to the community of Operation Weed and Seed, pertinent information and contact with locally available Social Service providers, and Crime Prevention Education.  There will be food, beverages, music and an array of fun activities.  Most importantly, the goal is to provide 500 needy children with a backpack and school supplies for the oncoming school year. 


Immokalee Weed and Seed is a non-profit organization focused on improving the quality of life in Immokalee by “Weeding” out criminal elements in a designated neighborhood and “Seeding” the area with prevention, intervention, treatment and restoration.  Several committees serve children as well as adults. There has been success in reducing crime and improving the physical conditions of neighborhoods, as well as increasing the economic, social and educational opportunities in the area.  Weed and Seed continues to strive towards this goal, and appreciates help from the Immokalee community, as well as Naples organizations, businesses, and agencies. 


In order to make the event a success, donations, either financial or by way of refreshments, prizes, school supplies, etc. are needed from everywhere in Collier County. No donation of time, money, or supplies would be too small.  Any assistance is greatly appreciated.  In addition, please attend the “Let Freedom Ring” Celebration! Booths and set-aside areas are available for your business/organization, if requested.


Contact: Immokalee Weed and Seed Coordinator, Terrie Aviles at (239) 657-3858 to arrange for your donation, or simply make your check payable to Empowerment Alliance c/o Immokalee Weed and Seed, and either mail or drop off your donation at, 310 Alachua Street, Immokalee Fl. 34142. 



COMMUNITY NOTES:  (Items with an asterisk are repeats still providing valuable information)


Email scams:  Use caution when responding to emails that appear very legitimate.  The following web site tracks scams:  Scams are showing up in email systems.


Coalition of Immokalee Farm workers – a local success story.  Go to: "NPR: Farm Workers Aim to Enforce Taco Bell Deal"  <>; 


Immokalee Substance Abuse Coalition, David Lawrence Center.  Call: Anne Goodnight 239-657-4434


Red Cross urgently needs volunteers to work in the Immokalee hurricane shelters.  Collier was lucky last year; but the centers also serve other county evacuees.  Contact: Jerry Welty 239-596-6868.


August 6, 2005 “Let Freedom Ring” Celebration (Feature Article).  Contact:  Terrie Aviles 657-3858


August 15, 2005 Bethune Education Center Fall Classes:  Computer Systems Electronics (new); Business Technology, Health Sciences, English as a Second Language (ESL), General Education Diploma (GED) and Adult Basic Education (ABE).  Call Nancy Iacovone 239-377-9911 Watch the Immokalee Bulletin for fall and winter schedule and register now for financial aid.


2nd Fridays of every month, Weight Loss Support Group 12:00 – 1:00 p.m., at the Collier County Health Department.  This is a casual gathering and NOT a course that you have to attend every time.  Various topics: stress, over-eating, moderate exercise like walking and gardening will be discussed.  CMS and health dept staff that have similar problems will run the program.  Brown bag lunch is encouraged and everyone is welcome. NO charge!!  Contact Koko DeLisi 658-7343


October 19, 2005 Migrant Matrix, 2nd Annual Conference, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. One Stop Career and Services CenterThis is a one-day conference to establish new, or enhance existing partnerships between public and private agencies that provide services and support to farm workers and their families.  Highlights will be education, employment, forced labor, health, housing, legal, safety, and wages.  If your agency is interested in presenting and/or exhibiting information, please contact Nancy Frees at the Collier County Health Department 658-7300.


*The Dubin Alzheimer's Resource Center provides assistance and information to individuals and families caring for a family member or friend with memory loss.  Call Lilly Lopez  (239) 437-3007.


*Patricia L. Leonard, Regional Director of Lutheran Services of Ft. Myers, is planning an outreach for children that have become wards of the state.


*English Support Group for victims of domestic violence, call Lucy Ortiz 657-5700.


August 22, 2005, Bethune Education Center - free Introduction to the Trades, a 60-hour class, MW, 7:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m., leads to jobs & apprenticeship classes.  Call:  Nancy Iacovone 239-377-9911.


*Contact Commissioner Coletta by phone (239) 658-9293, fax at (239) 774-3602 or e-mail at


*Youth Haven sponsors a Natural Helper Program. home-based parenting.  Contact:  April Schutz, 239-774-2904 ext. 243 or


*U.S. Citizenship classes at the Immokalee Branch of the Public Library.  Call 657-2882



*Contact Collier County Public Schools Superintendent, Mr. Raymond Baker, at  Go to for the CCPS Board meeting dates and board member email addresses.


*One Stop Career Service Center of Immokalee schedules resume writing, interviewing, Internet job searching and job applications workshops.   Contact Thais Kuoman 239-658-3338


*Money Available for Home Repair to Low- Income Residents!!!!!Home Ownership also!

The Empowerment Alliance of Southwest Florida received a grant from USDA to repair homes in Immokalee.  The Empowerment Alliance is partnering with the County's SHIP program. a home repair program. in the area.  For more information, contactCall Wendy Klopf from the County at 659-5701 or Ana Salazar, Empowerment Alliance, 867-5466658-3318 at the One Stop Career Center of Immokalee – stay tunedImmokalee.  Ask about home ownership.


*Contact for information about preparation for the Florida Family Development Credential, a partnership that includes Florida Gulf Coast University as the credentialing agency. 


Debbie Thompson is also the IIAC guest speaker for October.


*Visit the Florida Regional Community Policing Institute (RCPI) website to register for generally free or inexpensive community leader workshops at St. Petersburg College. 


*Hospice of Naples services, call 239-261-4404 and visit web site  (see March IIAC newsletter).


*Elder Helpline of Southwest Florida for seniors 60 years or older:  1-866-505-4888


*Request The Leadership Center of the Community Foundation training and events calendar for non-profits and businesses from Kay Jasso, Leadership Center of the Community Foundation, Naples, (239) 649-5000, (239) 649-5337 fax.


*Naples Free-Net (NFN), with the Immokalee Public Library, offers free Internet classes that are posted on the community pages and the community calendar. Call the library at 657-2882 to pre-register for classes. NFN will also provide speakers and demonstrations for Immokalee community organizations. Current volunteers with Naples Free-Net at Immokalee include Webmaster Birgit Pauli-Haack, Joy Prichard, and Immokalee resident, Shelley Lieb, with the help of many Naples Free-Net volunteers.  More Immokalee volunteers are needed. – Joy Prichard,


*Seasonal and migrant farmworkers and their dependents should contact Sylvia Mendoza 658-7064 at Farmworker Jobs and Education Program (FJEP) for assistance with career planning and school expensesOther communityCommunity support for low income Immokalee residents includes:  Coalition of Florida Farmworker Organizations, Inc. (COFFO) Contact:  Maria Adame 239-657-7272; Immokalee Multicultural Multipurpose Community Action Agency, Inc. (IMMCAA) Contact Sheri Bennett 239-657-2213; and Workforce Council of S.W. Florida Contact Amanda Campos 239-658-3303.


*Immokalee Friendship House provides homeless persons with shower, shelter, laundry, bed, clothing, personal hygiene products and food at no cost.  Call 239-657-4090.


*Horizon Village: low-cost dormitory rooms ($7/day) for single farmworkers.  Call 239-657-3649.




*The Health Department will hold a 5-week quit smoking class at your agency.  This will help lower health care costs, enhance your agency image by promoting health, and help the community achieve its health objectives.  No charge to agencies!  For more information, call Koko DeLisi at 658-7343.


*IIAC Information for 2005 will be Available on Diskette soon.  Watch for notification. 




If you have information about grants and/or jobs, send it to the newsletter for publication here.  Note that lead times are critical for grants.  If lead-time is an issue, send the information via the listserv also. The IIAC newsletter will post job announcements. Please send the job title, agency name, contact person and closing date to:


A pilot program by USDA Rural Development and Chase Home Finance will make it possible to secure construction loans linked to USDA Section 502 guaranteed 30-year mortgages. This partnership will begin with pilot programs in California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas, and is expected to be operational in the next 60 days. Details are available on USDA Rural Development website at:


MTV: Music Television has launched its new pro-social initiative, think MTV, designed to inform and empower young people to take action on social issues in association with Youth Venture. Think Venture Grants of up to $1,000 each will be offered each week to a group of young people with the most compelling and sustainable community service projects. The deadline is Dec. 31. For more information, visit the MTV website.


The Department of Health and Human Services has added a July 15 due date to the March 15, June 15, and

November 1 deadlines for its Assets for Independence Individual Development Account program (see HAC News, 2/9/05). Informational calls for applicants will be held June 20 and 21. See Federal Register, 6/10/05, pp. 33905-06. For details or to register for a call, visit or call 202-401-4626.


The Charter School Facility Finance Landscape, a publication of the LISC's Educational Facility Financing Center, is the first comprehensive listing of private, nonprofit and public providers of funding and financing for charter school facilities. The publication details public initiatives, including federal grant and tax credit/bond financing programs as well as an exhaustive listing of all state-level funding, loan, and credit enhancement programs currently authorized in the 41 jurisdictions with a charter law. For more information and to download this new LISC publication, visit the LISC Online Resource Library.


The Federal Register contains a NOFA for nonprofit intermediaries and state HFAs to apply for a $6 million demonstration program that will create revolving loan funds to be used to revitalize Section 515 properties. You
can access it on the web at


HHS, Administration of Children and Families, Office of Administration, Grants to Tribes, Tribal
Organizations, and Migrant Programs:  for Community-based Child Abuse Prevention Programs
There are projected to be three grants of $143,000 max each.


CSBG T/TA Program Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Other Asset Formation Opportunities


*Grant programs of the Community Foundation of Collier County

Please visit website for detailed information, deadlines, and to download the applications.

Contact:  Kay Jasso (239) 649-5000 ext.202


*Professional Development Grants of up to $2000, are available to support a variety of nonprofit organizational needs, which strengthen the internal capacity of the organization. Needs in areas such as:

*              Conferences/Education for Staff and/or Board

*              Equipment/Technology: Tools, Training and/or Technical assistance

*              A consultant or speaker used for internal purposes

*Community Project Grants of up to $5000, are available to support nonprofit organizations serving Collier County. Grants are awarded to sustain excellent existing projects or launch new and creative approaches to solving community problems.

*Program. Planning & Evaluation Grants of $25,000 are awarded to support new or existing programs of nonprofit organizations serving Collier County.  This special grant program is designed to help organizations improve and strengthen their operations.


 *Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida:  Grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy.


* created and managed by The Education Foundation, allows you to

post your student projects in need of funding as well as your needs for volunteers or materials/supplies.   


*Non-profits may find a useful website.


*NOTE:  The Explore Program at Bethune Education Center is looking for paid work activity for their students at Bethune to learn work readiness skills.  If your organization has copying, collating, small assembly work and projects, please contact Israel Lopez, 239-377-9900.


Reminder of upcoming meetings – clip this page and save it for your calendar!!



July 13 –                     Marcus W. Viles, Atty., Viles & Beckman, P.A. – Free legal information

August 10 –                Rescheduled Business meeting – Plan for 2005/2006 and bring your surveys

September 14 –          Lynda C. Dotson, M.A. – Overview of services provided to the visually impaired in the Independent Living/Adult Program – Division of Blind Services


Future months:  Special Victims Unit, Collier County Sheriff’s Department (human trafficking) and Ave Maria University and Community update


For more information about IIAC events

Come to this July’s IIAC meeting. Wednesday, July 13, 12:00 noon -1:00 P.M.

At the Immokalee One Stop Career and Service Center Building

Located at 750 South Fifth Street, next to the Bethune Education Center in Immokalee.


The Immokalee Inter-Agency Council is an entirely volunteer organization with no membership dues or fees and no paid staff.  Its sole mission is to serve its members by providing a forum for non-profit agencies to share ideas and resources that benefit Immokalee residents.

ALL IIAC meetings are open to any and all interested parties and individuals. To become a member requires nothing more than attending meetings and sharing with others who you are and any announcements that could benefit Immokalee residents.

If you have a need or interest and wish to contact someone from the Immokalee Inter-Agency Council, you can call

Diane Christianson, President, at 658-7064 ;

or Koko DeLisi, Vice President, at 658-7343     Thank You.

Watch the web site: Join the listserv for current news and information.  Send community events to Bring your business card, program. brochures and flyers to share at meetings. Leave a copy for the IIAC book.