A View from the Immokalee Shelter

Posted 5/7/21

Over the past 30 years, The Shelter for Abused Women & Children has transformed the lives of thousands of Immokalee families

You must be a member to read this story.

Join our family of readers for as little as $5 per month and support local, unbiased journalism.

Already have an account? Log in to continue. Otherwise, follow the link below to join.

Please log in to continue

Log in
I am anchor

A View from the Immokalee Shelter


Over the past 30 years, The Shelter for Abused Women & Children has transformed the lives of thousands of Immokalee families through its outreach services and more recently, its new emergency shelter.

Despite this presence, many people may be unfamiliar with what we do and who we serve. I’d like to start with a little history.

In 1991, The Shelter opened its Immokalee Outreach Office, offering part-time counseling services. Seven years later, the Immokalee program became a national model for serving immigrant and migrant battered women. In 2000, Immokalee Outreach Manager Lucy Ortiz testified before a Congressional hearing in Washington on domestic violence in rural communities.

By the mid-2000s, the Immokalee office staff had expanded to four advocates who provided counseling and prevention programs in local schools. In 2016, following a needs study, Shelter leadership launched a capital campaign to build a 21,500 square foot, 60-bed emergency shelter in Immokalee. The building is named for long-time supporter Shelly Stayer, who provided the lead gift of $3 million.

Designed by Naples architect David Corban, the facility features separate wings for victims of human trafficking and survivors of domestic abuse, as well as office and outreach space. The project broke ground in May 2019 and opened one year later amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Immokalee is a small and close-knit community. We are counting on you to help us help your community. If you know of or suspect someone is in need of our services, please reach out and tell them about The Shelter. All of our services are provided free of charge and are available to all, regardless of citizenship status.

We provide safe shelter, where survivors can secure counseling, legal and immigration assistance, court advocacy, financial education, and many other services that help them heal and become self-sufficient. Life inside The Shelter is empowerment based. A pantry and individual kitchens allow participants to prepare their own food for themselves and their families on their own schedule. Laundry facilities, child care, and after school care are also provided. The average stay is around 37 days and advocates are available to assist you on your way to a life free of violence and abuse.

Future columns will provide more details on The Shelter’s many programs and services. We are so grateful to the Immokalee Bulletin Editor Dale Conyers for providing this column space to raise community awareness.

It is my firm belief that every human being deserves to live a life free from violence and abuse. This is the reality we seek every day at The Shelter as we work to prevent, protect and prevail over domestic violence and human trafficking. It is a reality we seek for all residents in Immokalee because violence in the home does not stop at the front door - it infects our schools, businesses, places of worship and social gatherings. It impacts all of us.

If you or someone you know is impacted by domestic violence, call or text The Shelter Crisis Line at 239-775-1101. More information is available at naplesshelter.org

domestic violence, The Shelter, Immokalee