Take Stock in Children Names Joseph Zednik the 2024 Mentor of the Year

Take Stock in Children of Florida proudly announces Joseph “Joe” Zednik of Collier County as the 2024 Take Stock in Children Mentor of the Year.

The Mentor of the Year Award honors an individual who demonstrates exceptional commitment to Take Stock in Children and the organization’s mission of providing scholarships, mentors and hope to empower at-risk, academically qualified students from low-income backgrounds to break the cycle of poverty through education.

Joe Zednik’s commitment to Take Stock spans over 13 years, having served as a member of the state board of directors and a mentor. During Zednik’s years of dedicated service, Zednik has mentored four students in the Take Stock in Children program at The Immokalee Foundation. Zednik has improved mentees’ lives through countless hours of sharing knowledge, opening doors of opportunity, and challenging mentees to grow academically and personally. Zednik met Jesus Abarca, Jr., Zednik’s first mentee, when the student was in middle school.

Joe and Dee Zednik with mentee Jesus Abarca Jr.

Their ten-year relationship continued through Abarca’s high school years and into college. Abarca is now a graduate of Florida State University and, inspired by Zednik, returned to Take Stock in 2023 to mentor the next generation of students. “I believe a mentor is someone who completely gives without reserve, hoping to pour into someone else and to make them better. Joe has done that for me. Because of Joe’s kindness, time, and generosity, I have made something of myself. Because of Joe, I am now a mentor to a young gentleman and hope to imprint [my mentee’s] life in the way that Joe has mine,” said Jesus Abarca, Jr. 

“The life-changing work of Take Stock in Children is based on the power of mentorship and the commitment of caring individuals such as Joe Zednik,” said Jillian Hasner, President and CEO of Take Stock in Children of Florida. “The Take Stock program deeply appreciates Joe’s countless contributions and is excited to honor Joe as the 2024 Take Stock Mentor of the Year.”

Learn how you can change the life of a student as a Take Stock mentor here.