ORLANDO – In one of the classes at the Pace Center for Girls in Winter Park, Florida, the students are working on a career research project intended to provoke inspiration.
For this assignment, the girls have been asked to find three successful people working in a field of interest and take notes on the jobs they have, what they studied in school, how long it took to accomplish their goals, and the challenges they had to overcome.
What they are each discovering during this assignment is that many of the people they admire from afar are a lot like them and had to overcome many challenges and develop skills. Jotting down their findings is helping each of the students realize they too can reach their goals if they aim high, work hard, and stay motivated.
This activity speaks to the values and guiding principles of Pace, which are built upon a belief in people and include a focus on strengths, acting with integrity and positive intent, embracing growth and change, exhibiting courage, valuing the wisdom of time, and investing in the future.
Projects and principles like this and the rest of Pace Center for Girls’ curriculum, environment, and mentorship provide girls the resources to change their trajectory. Just ask 18-year-old Breahna Murphy.
Her story is one many teenagers can relate to – she was moving around a lot, had low self-esteem, and was going down the wrong path – that was until she and her dad learned about Pace. Pace provides girls and young women between the ages of 11 and 17 with opportunities for a better future through education, counseling, and training. Reading about the program’s mission, core principles, and values, they figured it couldn’t hurt for her to sign up and give it a try.
Now, two years later and just a few weeks away from graduating high school, Pace has positioned her to make incredible strides educationally, mentally, and emotionally.
“I’m maturing and learning every day,” she said. “I’ve grown through it, and counseling also helps me with anger management and being able to problem solve in positive ways. It helps me work through problems outside of school and in personal relationships.”
Founded in 1985, Pace Center for Girls has successfully grown to annually serve more than 3,000 girls in 22 locations in Florida and Georgia. Since inception, the program has helped over 40,000 girls transform their lives and is recognized as one of the nation’s leading advocates for girls in need.
Through the $60,000 donation from the DeVos Family Foundation, as part of its 30 Grants for 30 Years Initiative, even more girls and young women will have access to Pace’s resources to build their confidence and realize their full potential.
“I think it means that they are not forgotten,” Pace Center for Girls – Orange County Executive Director Rosene Johnson said. “I think a lot of times, our girls are the forgotten girls. They are the girls that are told, ‘they can’t,’ so much that they really believe it. They are the girls that don’t get to go on field trips, or the college tour, or are sitting in offices or different settings because they are too ‘ungovernable’ to be with everybody else.
It’s amazing to be able to see how these young girls can blossom during their time here. What’s most exciting about what happens here is we have over 3,000 girls, and now women, that have actually told everyone ‘they can’ – and that’s the strength of what happens here at Pace. For them to know the DeVos family and the Orlando Magic, an NBA team, care enough about them – that means everything, because it means they aren’t forgotten. It (shows) they are special, and that means the world to me and the rest of our team.”
A total of $3 million will be donated to 30 area nonprofit organizations as part of the DeVos family’s 30 Grants for 30 Years Initiative, which aims to invest in people and projects impacting youth, essential needs for families, and community enrichment across Central Florida.
The late Rich DeVos, who bought the Magic in 1991, was often referred to as a chief cheerleader, emanating from the compassion he had for others. That mantra is now shared by his entire family, who now continue his legacy with the same philanthropic mindset.
“That was my father. When we first got involved with the team and were able to acquire the franchise, that’s the one thing he said: ‘Don’t call us owners. We’re not owners. We’re caretakers,” Magic Chairman Dan DeVos explained. “The real stakeholders are the community of Central Florida and the fans.”