Denton: OMYF Assists Boys & Girls Clubs of Central FL

By John Denton
May 12, 2011


ORLANDO – With the downturn in the economy hitting more people directly than ever, the face of homelessness in Central Florida has shifted away from the 40-year-old male who is down on his luck and toward the single mother trying to support children.

Without the help of the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida CEO Gary Cain wonders how his Youth Development Services program could possibly continue to provide care and the hope for a successful future for homeless children in the area.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida was one of 19 organizations to receive grants from the Orlando Magic Youth Fund, a McCormick Foundation Fund (OMYF-MFF) earlier this year. In all, the grants totaled $1 million. Much of that money is dedicated to organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs to help children in Central Florida realize their full potential, especially those most at-risk, by supporting programs and partnerships that empower families and change lives.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida Youth Development Services, which received a $50,000 grant, has worked in conjunction with the Coalition of the Homeless for two decades to address the growing number of homeless children in the Central Florida area as the result of hard times for their parents. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida will serve some 200 school-age children this year alone.

``We’ve been able to create an array of programs that encourage them through this difficult time in their lives and help them get their school work done. We also do work with the parents and teach them some things they need to be doing to be successful,’’ Cain said.

``At the end of the day, (the grant) has helped us provide a stable place for homeless school-age children where they can stay on track for school, see positive results and have people to teach and encourage them through problems that they are facing,’’ Cain continued. ``We have a great graduation rate there and all of the kids we had last year in high school graduated. Our directors are very loving, but they have high expectations. They don’t allow the fact that they are homeless to stand in the way of where their focus needs to be.’’

Over the last 21 years, the OMYF has distributed more than $16 million to local non-profit community organizations. The Orlando Magic Youth Foundation raises community dollars annually through donations, auctions and events such as the Black Tie and Tennies Gala and the OMYF Golf Tournament. Fundraising efforts then go to the Fund, and are matched at $0.50 on the dollar by the McCormick Foundation. In 2011, in addition to presenting checks totaling $1 million to 19 non-profit organizations, the OMYF-MFF also awarded scholarships totaling $30,000.

``We are proud to be able to assist organizations who are in need during these tough economic times,’’ Orlando Magic President Alex Martins said. ``It is only possible through a collaborative effort of the DeVos family, this community, our players, coaches, staff, corporate partners and season ticket holders that we are capable of distributing $1 million this year. Most importantly we want to recognize and thank those who work every day with the youth of our community … they are the true heroes.’’

The 2011 grant recipients: Adult Literacy League, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, Boys' Town of Central Florida, Coalition for the Homeless, Conductive Education Center of Orlando, Crealde School of Art, Education Foundation-Osceola County, Elevate Orlando, Foundation for Orange County Public Schools, Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools, Hebni Nutrition Consultants, Hope Foundation for the Homeless, Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando, Orlando Ballet, Florida Hospital for Children, Harbor House of Central Florida, Hope Community Center, Howard Phillips Center for Children and Families and the Valencia Community College Foundation.

Cain also praised the Magic for being so much more to Orlando and the Central Florida community than just a basketball franchise. He lauded the organization for its serious commitment to making a difference in the community and also for pushing its players into action at various events and functions. In addition to its players, the Magic strongly encourages board participation in various non-profit organizations and volunteerism from all their employees. Currently out of the approximately 200-plus staff members, 60 are placed on local community boards of directors. And through the Magic’s Volunteer Program (MVP), this season alone the Magic staff has volunteered more than 6,000 hours in the community.

``The Magic are such an incredible asset to this community, not only in terms of what they do, but in terms of building the esteem of the people here in Central Florida. The ownership group has taken a major leadership role in philanthropy and strengthening our community,’’ Cain said. ``They have given away millions and millions of dollars every year that is aimed at the children in our community who are the most vulnerable and that gives them opportunities to have positive futures.

``And then the players themselves, the Magic are the epitome of getting them involved in charitable organizations and making a difference in the community,’’ Cain continued. ``I can’t personally say enough great things about the Magic. It’s just a treasure to have them in the community.’’

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com. Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at AskJD@orlandomagic.com.