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Empowerment and Generosity

Pace Center for Girls

On March 24, Pace Center's signature hearts filled the room for their 25th anniversary Believing in Girls Empowerment luncheon with an outpouring of generosity for the girls served in their Immokalee center. An inspirational interpretive dance performed by three current Pace girls literally brought tears to the guests’ eyes, as their movements embodied the struggles the girls have faced and worked to overcome. Testimonials by Pace alums resonated the importance of Pace in their lives.  

“I have seen firsthand how Pace has made amazing transformations in these at-risk young ladies. They have created a safe place for the girls to learn and grow,” shared Ana Maria, first vice president regional retail manager for MidWestOne Bank and Pace executive board member. Proceeds from "Fund-A-Need” at the luncheon will go toward providing increased safety and security measures, including improved lighting and technology at the center, perimeter fencing and program services. 

Claudine Leger-Wetzel, VP of sales & marketing with stock development, was recognized with the Pace Setter Award at the luncheon held in the Ritz Carlton Golf Club’s Grand Pavilion. “Claudine has been integral in changing girls’ lives in Collier County, serving as Pace board chair and in advisory roles over the past eight years,” expressed Marianne Kearns, Pace executive director. “Claudine’s drive for results motivates all of us to do more, which in turn helps our girls. Her focus on community needs is one of her special strengths and she is a phenomenal leader.” 

Included among the 400 guests in attendance were Collier County Commissioners Rick LoCastro, William L. McDaniel Jr., and Daniel Kowal, in addition to Fire Commissioner Patrick Dearborn and Sheriff Kevin Rambosk. Stacey Deffenbaugh, NBC2 News anchor hosted the event as emcee and was joined by Rick Gallo the event’s auctioneer. 

The Believing in Girls Empowerment luncheon was presented by title sponsor MidWestOne Bank and supported by key sponsors including Diversified Yacht Services, Stock Development, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Lutgert Companies, Publix Super Market Charities, The Village Shops at Venetian Bay, AlliKriste Custom Kitchen & Cabinetry, and the Ruta family. 

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