It’s remarkable what can happen when a community comes together to support our students. Meet Billy—an Extended Transition program student at Immokalee High School who had a dream of becoming an entrepreneur.
“After exploring and experiencing many job training sites, Billy realized it would be very difficult for him to obtain employment due to certain physical limitations,” shares Kelly Stevenson-Crews, an Exceptional Student Education (ESE) teacher at Immokalee High School. “We talked about him starting his own business, and through an idea and a lot of research, Billy’s Fresh Produce emerged!”
You see, Billy is a natural manager. Serving in a managerial role for Special Olympics, Billy realized he wanted to be a manager of his own career. Many community friends stepped in along the way to ensure Billy’s dream became a reality.
With Stevenson-Crews by his side, Billy signed a contract to reserve a space at Ave Maria’s Farmers Market, visited First Bank to set up a business account, and priced produce for his newfound stand. He also sought out the advice of the Benison Center’s Frank Rincon. Rincon saw Billy’s vision and has been a tremendous mentor. In fact, Rincon donated the tent, cooler, table, and chairs to get Billy started and worked with him to create his now famous logo.
On Fridays after school, Billy travels to the market in Immokalee to pick out the best produce. And through the support of Stevenson-Crews was offered the opportunity to supply produce to a local restaurant, the Ave Pub. “Billy was ecstatic, proudly announcing to everyone that he had his first contract!” adds Stevenson-Crews.
Billy, now successfully selling produce on Saturdays, was in need of a vehicle to transport his equipment and goods. This is where the Barnhardt family stepped in offered Billy an opportunity to acquire a van. “I never thought I would have my own van!” exclaimed Billy. With his hands on each side of his head, he would repeatedly state, “I am in shock!”
Now that a van was secured, it needed Billy’s logo. Unbeknownst to Billy, Joe Boney from On the Spot Printing, who previously donated banners to hang on Billy’s produce stand, offered to wrap the vehicle with Billy’s logo, free of charge. Billy had no clue, and last Friday, the group came together to surprise Billy with the wrapped van. He was awestruck!
It’s simple acts of kindness, moments like these, that make a difference in the world. Billy’s dream was possible due to the many, many people who love this young man and want to see him succeed, such as Ricky and Audrey Turrubiartez, Steve and Kelly Crews, Alma Cisneros, and more.
What’s next for Billy?
“My goals are to buy a computer and printer for my business. I also want to get more restaurant contracts and do home deliveries in the summer.”
We have no doubt that Billy will reach his goals, thanks to a community that has rallied around him in support—a true CCPS Family!