Orlando Magic Chairman Dan DeVos and Orlando Magic's VP of Shareholder Engagement, Ryan DeVos, present New Hope for Kids a $30,000 gift as part of the 30 Grants for 30 Years initiative.

DeVos Family Foundation Supports Grieving Children and Families with Donation to New Hope for Kids

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

ORLANDO - When Tamari Miller and the other staff members at New Hope got the news the DeVos Family Foundation would be donating $30,000 to their organization as part of their 30 Grants for 30 Years Initiative, they were beyond grateful and ecstatic just knowing more children will have the resources they need to cope with their grief.

“We are just so grateful, because I have walked this journey for years, and I can see the gratitude [from our families]. If the families could come in front of everyone and say thank you, they would,” Miller said.

Since 1996, New Hope for Kids has been supporting Central Florida children and families suffering from grief, loss, or life-threatening illnesses through peer-to-peer grief counseling and by granting wishes for critically ill kids.

As the grief services program director at New Hope for Kids, a position she’s held since 2000, Tamari Miller has many inspiring and heartwarming stories about children who have come through the program following the loss of a loved one. 

One such example is Sheena, who first came to New Hope for Kids as a preschooler after her father died and returned a couple years later, shortly after Miller had started the job. 

Miller – who has lost several close family members herself over the years, including her mother when she was 17 – remembers watching an informational video about Sheena from her first stint in the program and smiling because of how adorable, smart, and charismatic she was.

“The thing that stood out about her the most was, she was in the paint room, and she said, ‘it’s a boat house.’ It was just how she said it. Because I’m from Alabama, I was like, oh, she’s kind of southern. She’s super cute,” Miller recalls, still smiling at the thought of the footage. 

Sheena, slowly but surely with Miller right by her side, made incredible strides during that additional year or so after rejoining the program. 

About a decade later, after having not seen each other for years, the two reunited when Sheena showed up at Miller’s office unannounced to thank her for all her compassion and support. 

“This beautiful girl comes in, and I’m looking at her, and she’s like, ‘Miss Tamari, do you remember me?’ I’m Sheena,” Miller still vividly remembers. “I said, ‘my sweet little boat house Sheena.’”

Sheena, at that time just a 16-year-old, had become a grief facilitator, working with children who were struggling with their own issues. The two kept in touch from there, and Sheena connected with her to share she was writing a paper for school about Miller and how her experience at New Hope for Kids put her on a path for success. Sheena’s mother and stepfather are now volunteers at New Hope, located in Maitland, Florida.

“We are a family,” Miller said. “I adore her. I think she adores us even more.” 

Around the same time Miller took the job with New Hope for Kids, Dave Joswick, one of the organization’s founding board members, was named the executive director. He, too, is so proud of all the kids that have persevered through their toughest times and transformed their lives with New Hope’s support.  

During the pandemic, New Hope for Kids offered its services virtually to children, including those from out of state. Even with things generally back to normal now, virtual sessions remain an option, which has been extremely beneficial for those unable to come to the facility. There are currently about 180 kids in the program.

Joswick describes the atmosphere – both through Zoom and in-person – as therapeutic for the kids. Some of the activities at the facility include arts and crafts, air hockey, outdoor basketball, and digital games.

“What they learn here is they are not alone,” he said. “They meet other kids and develop relationships. The way I look at it, the kids really become therapists for each other here. That’s what we are able to provide in our environment.” 

As part of the DeVos family's 30 Grants for 30 Years Initiative, a total of $3 million will be donated to 30 area nonprofit organizations over 18 months, coming alongside people and projects impacting youth, essential needs for families, and community enrichment across Central Florida. 

The late Rich DeVos, whose family 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 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.”