Magic, Habitat for Humanity Team Up for Family Home Dedication Ceremony

By Josh Cohen
Dec. 5, 2017

ORLANDO – Sometimes it’s life’s unfortunate circumstances that help strengthen and empower an individual and entire family.

LaToya Pugh, a 34-year-old mother of two daughters, wholeheartedly agrees with that. She herself found incredible inspiration and courage following tragedy.

Several years ago, Pugh feared for her life and her children’s safety when her apartment was broken into twice. The second time it happened, though scared and unsure of what would come next, Pugh made the life-altering decision to not let fright or evil inhibit her from overcoming adversity.

At that point, bravery and ambition drove her in the right direction. Knowing she needed to relocate and find safer housing for herself and her family, Pugh learned about Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando.

As a result of her remarkable perseverance, completion of all the necessary requirements to be eligible and with generous assistance from the Orlando Magic and Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic, Pugh was awarded a brand new Habitat for Humanity home. She was also presented courtside tickets to the Magic's home game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Dec. 22 and a personalized framed Magic jersey.

“Through all the challenges and hard days, it just shows me that I’ve grown from a little girl to a woman now,” Pugh said with tears of joy pouring down her face during Tuesday’s key dedication ceremony on her new front lawn. “Words cannot express the way I feel, but if you can just open my heart and just see how thankful, grateful and blessed I am, it’s wonderful. I am so grateful to everyone and for everything they have done for me.”

What makes it even more special is that this home, which was built this past summer with help from volunteers from the Magic and Jewett, is in the same community where she was born and raised and where her mother still lives.

“Just to be able to stand here and now I’m a homeowner, it’s life-changing, it’s life-changing,” she said. “I’m so excited. It means so much to me.”

“This is motivation,” she added when asked what this relocation will mean for her daughters. “It keeps them on the straight way. They don’t have time to even think about outside things because it’s school, it’s your extra curriculum and just being focused and enjoying life and doing the things you love to do.”

The Magic are very active in the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando program, having sponsored nine homes. Each home has been Florida Green Building Coalition Certified and Water Star rated. Hearing Pugh tell her heartwarming story inspired the Magic.

“When you hear her story and how hard she’s worked and some of the things she’s had to deal with growing up and how she followed this path to get here, to see her have that emotion and enjoy a new home, it warms your heart,” Magic Chief Operating Officer Charles Freeman said.

“Community is a core value of the Orlando Magic and we want to create legendary moments both on and off the court,” he added. “When you see moments like today, it really puts a smile on your face.”

The mission of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando is to bring people together to build homes, communities, and hope. It is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally through constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes.

“It’s so nice for us, Habitat and the other organizations that support us, to know that we are helping a family start a new journey in a safe place that they will be able to thrive,” said Catherine McManus, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando. “The Magic are wonderful in that they are really engaged with the homeowner. They come out, they volunteer their time and then of course all of the wonderful things they do to shower our homeowners with lots of presents, it’s just the cherry on top.”