When offering guidance to the graduates, Hodges stressed the importance of honesty.
“If you’re always honest, you’ll never have to worry about remembering what you said,” says Hodges. “Had our dealings in the community been anything but honest, we would not have been successful.”
Graduates Maria Chevalier, Mary Estrema, Marian Hajdukiewicz, Maria-Alicia Monteagudo, Detlef Rohleder, Arthur Schneider, Eddie Singh, Shirlene Streetman, Patricia Sweeney, Kevin Tomlinson, Amanda Tracy, and Natalie Valencia each received certificates symbolizing their completion of the 6-week course.
Several of the graduates had an opportunity to address the crowd before receiving their certificate.
“MicroEnterprise has opened the door for me,” says Natalie Valencia. “This class made me feel like a million bucks. I took a lot of notes and I’ll be reviewing them when I’m working on my business.”
In addition to celebrating its graduates on Thursday, the program honored Hodges with it’s first-ever “Entrepreneurial Spirit” award.
Hodges is no stranger to entrepreneurship. In 1962, Hodges opened the Hodges Funeral Chapel on Tamiami Trail in Collier County. At the time, it was some distance from Naples, and there was concern as to whether or not people would drive the added distance to use his service. They did, and the business grew.
“You have to pay attention to your business,” Hodges says of his secret to success. “Don’t look at the clock.”
After a generous donation in 2007, Hodges University in North Naples and Fort Myers was named after Earl and his wife, Thelma Hodges. He is also the recipient of the Naples Outstanding Citizen Award, International College Humanitarian Award, and the Junior Achievement Leadership Award.
The SWFL MicroEnterprise program is a partnership of several organizations and provides training for individuals with low-to-moderate income and/or other disadvantages to start their own businesses. The program is administrated by Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida and is part of Goodwill’s mission to help people with disabilities and other disadvantages overcome their barriers to employment and independence.
To learn more about the SWFL MicroEnterprise program, please visit www.goodwillswfl.org/