By Josh Cohen June 1, 2017
ORLANDO – While still several months away from moving into her brand new home, LaToya Pugh can already envision the benefits this relocation will have for her family.
On hand during construction on Thursday, Pugh pointed out how the change will open up so many new opportunities and give her two daughters a healthier environment to grow and excel in.
“It’s great to put them (kids) in a home where they can be safe and at peace and do great in school,” an emotional and grateful Pugh said. “It’s just a change of life. I’m excited.”
This transformation for Pugh was made possible thanks to volunteers from the Orlando Magic and Jewett Orthopaedic, who joined forces for this Habitat for Humanity home build.
“It’s fun to work with the Magic, be on the sidelines and take care of the players but when it comes down to it this is what makes the world go round and if community wins, we win,” Jewett Director of Marketing Allan Sansom said.
“We’ve worked with the Magic since 2010 with the Habitat for Humanity build so you can really follow the families and tell it’s making a difference in their faith. It’s nice to give back to a deserving family,” he added.
Transforming the lives of low-income, hard-working families through the American dream of homeownership, strengthening neighborhoods and improving communities is the mission of Habitat for Humanity.
To be considered, applicants invest between 300-500 hours of “sweat equity” and participate in various volunteer projects.
“Seeing a home begin from start to finish is always incredible but we always like to share that we are a hand-up, not a hand-out,” said Lexi Kay, Marketing and Communications Manager for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando. “It’s not like we’re giving the home away. They are actually earning it. They’re owning it. They’re first time homeowners. It’s really empowering.”
This was the Magic’s ninth build overall with Habitat for Humanity and third while partnering with Jewett in Butler’s Preserve community. This neighborhood will ultimately feature 51 single-family homes and four duplex units. Each home will be Florida Green Building Coalition Certified and Water Star rated.
“The impact that we see is great, not just on that single home but on the whole community because the Orlando Magic were here when we started the community in 2014 so they’ve seen it from start to finish,” Kay said. “We have volunteers that come out regularly. We see that dedication and passion and that’s what makes everything we do worth it.”
Bo Outlaw, a community ambassador for the Magic, has worked on each of these home builds. He rejoices every time he can be around these families and help provide them with the resources necessary to be healthier and happier.
“This is awesome, making a difference,” Outlaw said. “The smiles on the faces that you see now can’t put words into how it’s going to be when it’s a finished product. It’s great seeing the smiles now but when it’s finished it’s going to be unbelievable.
“It doesn’t get old.”
In order to live the Magic’s mission of being World Champions off the court, the team developed the Magic Volunteer Program (MVP). The MVP was developed to encourage Orlando Magic employees to get out and get involved in the Central Florida community. The program began in July of 2006 with the goal of performing 2,000 hours of community service during the 2006-07 season; over 3,800 hours were tracked that first year. Since program inception nearly 65,000 hours in the Central Florida community have been tracked.
The MVP is unique in that it allows employees to volunteer during work hours. As an added incentive, employees who reach a certain level of volunteer hours in the community will be rewarded and receive a monetary donation to a charity of their choice. There is also an annual award given to the Magic staff member who contributes the most hours in the community.
“The Orlando Magic is committed to building a strong community,” said Magic CEO Alex Martins. “As part of this commitment we encourage our staff to volunteer, and are proud that through our collective efforts we can help make the dream of home ownership a reality for one family.”