Denton: Magic Earn Honor for Community Efforts

By John Denton
August 9, 2012

ORLANDO – Each of the past two years, as the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation has given away $1 million annually to 19 local non-profit organizations, cheers, tears and boisterous ovations from the recipients have filled the air.

But as it turns out, it’s the Magic that revel in the excitement of the day as much as the organizations receiving grant money that will ultimately be used to impact the lives of children and the unfortunate in Central Florida.

The Magic’s commitment to making a difference in the community is a major reason why the organization recently earned the Orlando Sentinel’s Community Service Champion Award. Linda Landman-Gonzalez, the Magic’s Vice President of Community Relations and Government Affairs, was on hand at a ceremony last Friday to accept the award and she did so with great pride because of the importance the community has with the Magic organization.

``To be recognized for our community service makes us champions off the court,’’ Landman-Gonzalez said. ``It was a full room and it felt wonderful to be called to the front to accept that award because it speaks to our employees’ commitment to volunteerism and the (DeVos) family’s commitment to philanthropy and the entire team’s commitment to making a difference in the community.’’

The Magic were also named to the Orlando Sentinel’s Top 100 Companies for Working Families. The Top 100 recognizes Central Florida companies that strive to make a difference in the lives of families.

The Top 100 award and the Community Service Champion Award were made possible because of the Magic’s dedication to making a difference in the community and having its staff volunteer throughout Central Florida, Magic CEO Alex Martins said. Magic staffers volunteered more than 7,000 hours this year.

``The Magic are thrilled and honored to receive recognition in both areas,’’ Martins said. ``Our ownership group, the DeVos family, has always encouraged our staff to volunteer, even during work hours. It is through that encouragement that the Magic Volunteer Program (MVP) was born. It is because of the DeVos’ commitment to both family and the community that our culture has endured. This award is a testament to them and their values.’’

Landman-Gonzalez said that there is a focus on community with the Magic that is uncommon anywhere else in the NBA. That dedication to making a difference in the lives of children filters down from the top where legendary owner Rich DeVos has made philanthropy a life-long passion. Meanwhile, Martins has been involved with dozens of causes throughout Central Florida for years and stresses that the Magic be difference-makers on and off the basketball court.

``This is who we are. When you look at the DeVos family’s philanthropy and how they invest in the community, it’s extraordinary. There’s nothing else like it in the NBA,’’ Landman-Gonzalez said. ``And then with Alex Martins, when he was hired his No. 1 goal was to make sure that we’re citizens in the community. We’ve made sure to invest in Parramore and our city at large.’’

This past February the Magic once again picked 19 Central Florida organizations presented grants totaling $1 million as part of the community outreach initiative. The $1 million in OMYF grant money raised the total given to local non-profit groups over the past 22 years to nearly $17 million.

Three organizations were the beneficiaries of $100,000 grants: the Orlando Health Foundation (Howard Phillips Center), the Osceola Council on Aging and the Conductive Education Center of Orlando. The other 2012 grant recipients were: Adult Literacy League ($30,000), Apopka Family Learning Center (Justice & Peace Office) ($53,000), Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida ($75,000), Bridges of Light Foundation ($35,000), Community Coordinated Child Care ($35,000), Early Learning Coalition ($50,000), Foster Grandparent Program ($75,000), Foundation for Orange County Public Schools ($50,000), Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools ($20,000), Foundation for Seminole State College of Florida ($75,000), Foundation of Osceola Education ($20,000), GROWS Literacy Council ($30,000), Hope CommUnity Center ($40,000), Gift of Swimming ($20,000), Boys Town of Central Florida ($50,000) and the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida ($42,000).

``I know that money comes from our fans, our employees and our corporate partners, and to give away $1 million you really impact 19 agencies that are out there doing the hard work,’’ Landman-Gonzalez said. ``Those agencies are the ones who are making it happen. There are a lot of people who have come together to make it happen. Alex Martins always says that it’s his favorite day of the year.’’

The Magic Volunteer Program (MVP) is also a big reason why the organization is able to make such an impact in the community. The MVP program, which allows employees to volunteer at charities of their choice during work hours, was developed in 2006 to encourage Magic employees to get out and get involved. The program began with the goal of performing 2,000 hours of community service during the 2006-07 season – a number that was easily eclipsed as the Magic logged more than 3,800 hours of community service that first year. Since the program’s inception more than 30,000 hours of community service in the Central Florida area have been logged.

Landman-Gonzalez hopes that the recognition that the Magic have received for their work in the community will lead to others doing more to give back to the community. She said that the Magic’s commitment to impacting the lives of children is one that should be patterned by others so that Central Florida will be a better place to live.

``We do what we do because the Orlando Magic are committed, but there is also that satisfaction that we’re impacting children and also that people are realizing that the Magic are a model,’’ Landman-Gonzalez said. ``I believe if we become a model for others that everyone else will step up to the plate and it will makes the community better.’’

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Magic and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.



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