Denton: OMYF Distribute More Than $1 Million to Central Florida Community


By John Denton
January 24, 2013

ORLANDO – Looking like she had just made a game-winning shot for the Orlando Magic, Hope CommUnity Center board vice president Mary Carroll thrust her arms in the air and pumped her fists in celebration on Thursday.

Seconds later, and before Carroll was presented with an oversized check for $100,000 in grant money from the Orlando Magic Youth Fund, Carroll wrapped her arms around her own head, blushed because of the excitement of the moment and doubled over in disbelief.

``I was totally surprised. We received $100,000 two years ago, so I thought there was no way that we will ever get that again,’’ said Carroll, who was still smiling some 20 minutes after receiving the grant money from the OMYF. ``We’re just happy to be invited to come here, but to get $100,000 is amazing. When they skipped over Hope (in the alphabetical order), then I got so emotional because I knew what that meant for our organization.’’

There were plenty of cheers and tears on Thursday at the Amway Center as the OMYF, a McCormick Foundation Fund, presented 17 Central Florida non-profit organizations with checks totaling $1,050,000. It is the third consecutive year that the OMYF has awarded at least $1 million in grant money, bringing the total to more than $17 million handed out over the last 22 years.

``To raise so much money for the children of Central Florida and for organizations, many of which are working with disadvantaged youth in our area, is amazing,’’ Magic CEO Alex Martins said. ``For a third consecutive year we’ve been able to give away $1 million, which we’re incredibly proud of and we’re proud of the work these organizations are doing. For us to be able to give back to the community and help the lives of kids who need our help, it’s so gratifying.’’

There were four organizations that received $100,000 in grant money. They are: Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida ($100,000), The Early Learning Coalition ($100,000), Hope CommUnity Center ($100,000) and the Valencia Community College Foundation’s Orange County Take Stock in Children Program ($100,000).

The other 2013 grant recipients are: Adult Literacy League ($30,000), Beta Center ($76,000), Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida ($50,000), Elevate Orlando ($50,000), Florida Senior Programs ($50,000), Foundation for Foster Children ($25,000), Foundation for Orange County Public Schools ($60,000), Foundation for Seminole State College of Florida ($50,000), Hebni Nutrition Consultants ($49,000), Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando ($50,000), Orange County Library System ($60,000), The Gift of Swimming ($25,000) and the University of Central Florida Foundation ($75,000).

The recipients were chosen after a five-phase process that began in July of 2012. The beneficiaries were recommended by the OMYF ``VIP’’ Committee and approved by the McCormick Foundation’s Board of Directors.

The grant money is raised through donations by the Magic’s corporate partners, the Black Tie and Tennies Gala, the OMYF Open golf tournament, 50/50 raffles during games and online and in-game memorabilia auctions.

It has always been the mission of legendary Magic owner Rich DeVos that the franchise be a vehicle for impacting the community as well as winning on the court. Mr. DeVos has always cared deeply for the youth of Central Florida, and he takes great pride in the fact that the Magic have become leaders in making a significant different in the community.

``There has always been a focus with the Magic on the youth and how we can assist them. There are a lot of challenges out there and we’ve always thought it is important for the youth to be well taken care of because they are the ones who are going to become productive members of our society,’’ said Magic Chairman Dan DeVos, son of Rich and Helen DeVos. ``There is a lot of joy of seeing this event. The organizations here are proven successes and they will take the funds that they receive to expand or offer new or different services that will definitely have an impact on central Florida. So it’s great to see the good that they are doing, the results they are getting and seeing the excitement in their eyes when they see the checks they are receiving.’’

Jack McGill, the president of Elevate Orlando, said that the grant money from the Magic will allow the Elevate More Students Program to put a full-time teacher/mentor on the campus at Evans High School who is connects character education in the school with after-school mentoring for those without adult role models. Elevate Orlando already has mentors in six Orange County Schools and touches the lives of more than 500 students on a daily basis.

McGill said the generosity of the Magic is something that should be lauded and cherished by those in the Orlando area. McGill said the commitment to making a difference in the lives of hundreds of young adults in Orlando is a credit to the caring nature of Rich DeVos.

``I have been a longtime and distant admirer of the DeVos family, their values, their faith and everything that they have demonstrated. So in one sense it doesn’t surprise me what they do for the community,’’ said McGill, whose organization has received grant money from the Magic two of the past three years. ``Their giving is the heart and soul of what this organization is all about. What you saw today demonstrates their generosity in spades. We’re just so excited about partnering with the Magic in their endeavor to help people in Central Florida.’’

Carroll said the $100,000 in grant money from the Magic is vital to the Hope CommUnity Center’s EXITO! SUCCESS! program. The plan assists low-income and minority students to stay in school and graduate high school by offering academic tutoring, leadership development courses, college are career access and family nurturing.

``Oh my God, (the grant money) is just so important to our community. To know that we don’t have to worry about money this year is great and this will touch the lives of so many people,’’ said Carroll, who brought some students with her to Thursday’s ceremony who were formerly a part of the Hope CommUnity Center’s programs. ``We have a parenting class that works with the youth, the siblings and the parents to become more effective parents. They learn parenting skills and how to become better communicators within their own family. We have a youth group and every Wednesday 80 to 100 kids come on their own because it’s a safe place where they can grow and lead. The beautiful thing about having this money is that it not only supports our program, but it also goes way beyond what we do in the building. These young folks go out and lead others and train others. They teach the moms literacy and they have leadership projects that they do in the community. It just elevates.’’

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