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Ryan DeVos, Orlando Magic's VP of Shareholder Engagement, and his wife, Michelle DeVos, join members of Harbor House of Central Florida for an on-court grant presentation. The nonprofit received $95,000 as part of the 30 Grants for 30 Years initiative.

DeVos Family Foundation’s Gift to Harbor House of Central Florida Strives to Help Break the Cycle of Domestic Abuse Through Introduction of Family Justice Center

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

ORLANDO - Hearing domestic abuse victims share their stories is a big part of the healing process for others recovering from their own trauma. 

Kristen Nicole Adams, a mother of three, knows firsthand how powerful and influential that can be. After arriving at Harbor House of Central Florida in 2019, she heard fellow domestic abuse survivors share details about some of their most distressing moments, which made her realize she was not alone.

Her mentality following that group talk session was, “if they can do it, I can do it,” and that positive outlook has stayed with her ever since. And this is really what Harbor House is trying to capture – continually innovating ways to foster a safer community.

Harbor House’s mission is to prevent and eliminate domestic abuse in Central Florida by providing critical life-saving services to survivors, implementing and advancing best practices, and educating and engaging the community in a united front.

“To hear other survivors speak about their stories gave me courage and hope that it was possible,” she said. 

Nearly three years since first walking through Harbor House’s doors, Adams is thriving. She’s fully self-sufficient, has had numerous promotions at her job, was recently pre-approved for her first home mortgage, and her children are healthy and happy. 

Adams also is now an advocate at Harbor House herself, helping other domestic abuse victims discover a new path through all the nonprofit organization’s wide-ranging programs and resources, which include counseling; educational services; a safe shelter for women, men, and children; and a 24-hour crisis hotline. 

Now, thanks to a $95,000 donation from the DeVos Family Foundation as part of their 30 Grants for 30 Years Initiative, Harbor House’s outreach will extend further into the Central Florida community and help empower even more domestic violence victims to overcome their struggles by introducing a Family Justice Center. 

The first center of its kind in Central Florida, and only the second center in the state, the Family Justice Center will bring public and private partners together under one roof to provide wraparound services. For families seeking services, coming to one location is faster, more immediately helpful, and far less expensive than traveling to multiple locations throughout the county. Victims will no longer need to recount details of their abuse multiple times, legal papers can be filed right away, and cases will be completed more quickly, with the ultimate result that families can be safer sooner.

“When I found out about the grant, and after I was done crying because it’s such an amazing gift, I thought about how the community itself is going to come together and be able to offer amazing services to survivors,” Sperzel said. “When someone is experiencing domestic violence, often they have to go to fourteen or fifteen different locations in order to receive the services they need. And for us to be able to sit down and have a conversation in our community about how we pull all those services together into one spot – that are going to be survivor focused and survivor informed – is going to only help our entire community be able to address domestic violence.” 

Harbor House currently anticipates serving at least 4,300 clients per year through the center.

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, investing in people and projects impacting youth, essential needs for families, and community enrichment across Central Florida. 

“We can’t imagine better partners than Magic fans and the Central Florida community,” Magic Chairman Dan DeVos said. “We’re eager to come alongside nonprofits doing such important work, providing financial support as well as an opportunity to shine a light on their impact and the great things these nonprofits do on a daily basis. It’s all to honor the great community we’re thankful to be in.”