Longtime press club board member and journalism scholarship benefactor Phil Beuth and his wife Mary were recently honored by Guadalupe Center as Legendary Leaders, an honor celebrating the Bonita Springs couple’s leadership, guidance and support that extends more than two decades.
Guadalupe Center’s Legendary Leaders include donors, volunteers and trustees responsible for the nonprofit’s rise from a humble soup kitchen in 1982 into a mission-focused organization transforming lives and creating endless possibilities through education. Today, Guadalupe Center serves nearly 1,900 students annually in Immokalee.
“A Legendary Leader is somebody who has given their heart and soul to make sure that we have the best program and the best organization possible,” said Guadalupe Center President Dawn Montecalvo. “Phil and Mary have been so important to our organization. They’re some of our biggest advocates. They not only believe in the mission, but they live the mission, they breathe it.”
Guadalupe Center’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee. Students have access to a nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-School Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program.
The couple’s names are embedded across Guadalupe Center’s campuses in Immokalee, including the Phil & Mary Beuth Administrative Office Suite at the Morgridge Family Early Childhood Education Campus, Mary’s Kitchen at the Monaghan Family Early Childhood Education Campus, and Phil & Mary Beuth Courtyard at the van Otterloo Family Campus for Learning. Guadalupe Center’s transport van is affectionately known as the “Beuthmobile” in honor of the couple’s generosity.
Phil Beuth is a former broadcaster who served as president of Good Morning America and a division president at ABC. Meanwhile, Mary Beuth worked in the financial services industry and was a branch administrator for Chemical Bank. The couple met in New York when Mary was assigned to Phil’s account.
Phil Beuth, who also actively supports the Press Club of Southwest Florida through its college scholarship program and the Gulfshore Playhouse, is a trustee emeritus at Guadalupe Center and is perhaps best known for creating the Jump Up for Education, which raises six figures at annual fundraising galas, as well as his legendary elevator sales pitches that inspire others to give.
“We’re making an investment into their future, into their growth,” he said. “If these students continue to work hard and stay focused on their goals, this investment will pay big dividends for students, their families and the community.”
Immokalee’s poverty rate is 28.4%, one of the highest in Florida. However, it’s an improvement from 37.4% noted in a 2019 estimate from the U.S. Census. Those gains are directly tied to overall increases in educational attainment. Today, 51.9% of adults in Immokalee have earned high school diplomas, compared to just 39.3% estimated in 2019.
The Beuths point to Guadalupe Center’s role in the community’s transformation. Guadalupe Center students, who often are the children of farmworkers, day laborers and hospitality workers, have earned college degrees and returned to Southwest Florida to become physicians, teachers, business owners, engineers, financial planners and other successful adults. Most alumni can graduate from college with little to no debt through support provided by Guadalupe Center, its donors and college partners.
“If you give somebody an opportunity and they take it, and embrace it, which is happening over and over again out there, you see the results,” Mary Beuth said. “They’re doing everything that they could have never, ever dreamed of if they hadn’t started with Guadalupe.”
“We couldn’t reach more people to support us and help our students if we didn’t have people like Mary and Phil sharing their passion for the organization,” Montecalvo added. “Legendary Leaders like Mary and Phil have the traits of commitment, passion, dedication to the organization. They’re here for the long haul.”
Learn more about Guadalupe Center at GuadalupeCenter.org.