Orlando Magic Youth Foundation Distributes $1.2 Million to 16 Central Florida Organizations

by John Denton

ORLANDO – Days like Friday, when the Orlando Magic make yet another impactful difference in the lives and well-being of children throughout Central Florida, are the ones when team CEO Alex Martins thinks the most about the enduring legacies of the late Rich and Helen DeVos.

From the time that they bought the Magic in September of 1991, Rich and Helen DeVos always promised that the Magic’s role in the Central Florida community would be about helping those in need as much as it would be winning basketball games. Before their deaths in the past two years, Rich and Helen gave millions to charities throughout the United States to try and help individuals and children most in need.

That lasting legacy lived on Friday when the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation (OMYF) distributed $1.2 million in grants to 16 non-profit organizations in the Central Florida area. OMYF has now distributed more than $24 million to approximately 500 need-based organizations in Central Florida over nearly three decades.

Not long after working with Magic Chairman Dan DeVos to hand out grants ranging from $30,000 to $300,000 in a surprise ceremony at the Amway Center, Martins spoke about how Rich – who died on Sept. 6 at age 92 – and Helen – who passed away on Oct. 18, 2017 at age 90 – would have been proud of the difference that the Magic continue to make in the community.

``Mr. and Mrs. DeVos are the ones who taught us, as an organization, to be great caretakers of our community and ensure that we were always giving back, in particular helping the youth of Central Florida,’’ Martins said. ``That’s the way that they lived their lives. They always made their communities better wherever they lived or worked. They taught us all how to do it and it’s now engrained into the DNA of our organization to really give back and have a positive impact on this community. It’s all because of Mr. and Mrs. DeVos.’’

Dan DeVos, a leader in the Magic’s front office for years, also pointed out that his late father and mother would have beamed with pride over the impact that the franchise has had for several decades. He said it’s staggering to think of the enormous effect that the Magic have had when reviewing some of the numbers that have piled up in a good way through the years. Over 29 years, OMYF has funded more than 500 local agencies, granting more than $24 million that has impacted the lives of some two million children.

``We think those are some fantastic numbers,’’ Dan DeVos said. ``We also know there’s more work to be done and that’s why we’re all here today. I want to thank (the non-profit local agencies) for what they do. Throughout these 28 years, there’s been a lot of people working together to help those in need. We’re seeing great things happen. The checks passed out today are helpful, but they’re only helpful because of what the (local agencies) do.’’

Gary Cain, President and CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida, said so many agencies in the Central Florida area wouldn’t be able to help others without the philanthropic nature of the Magic. Cain said the Magic have always been leaders in helping those in need and helping Central Florida become a better place to live.

``The Magic have always been invested in this community and we’re so blessed to have the ownership and the team here,’’ said Cain, whose organization received a $30,000 grant. ``They have given very significant gifts to us for a number of years and have been very transformative.

``Without the Magic, our community wouldn’t be as strong and wouldn’t be as good,’’ Cain added. ``They bring people together and they share values for the community. I just can’t say enough good things about the Magic, from their ownership to the leadership and on down to everybody in the organization.’’

Here is a look at all of the grant winners for 2019: Advent Health/Hebni Nutrition Consultants ($300,000); Orlando Science Center/Early Learning Coalition of Osceola County ($300,000); Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida/Grace Medical Home, Inc. ($300,000); Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida ($30,000); Central Florida YMCA ($30,000); Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida ($30,000); Foundation for Orange County Public Schools ($30,000); The Gift of Swimming ($30,000); Harbor House of Central Florida ($30,000); Orlando Ballet ($30,000); Orlando Repertory Theatre ($30,000); Orlando Shakes (Orlando Shakespeare Theatre) ($30,000); Valencia College Foundation ($30,000).

``It actually sent chills down me and the first thing I thought about was our young people and their smiling faces and how much this (grant money) is going to impact them – that always makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up,’’ said Central Florida District Executive Director Jocelyn Boyd, whose organization works with teens in lower-performing high schools.

Added Scott Howat, President of the Foundation for Orange County Public Schools and a volunteer who works with schoolchildren in learning to read: ``This (grant) is amazing for us because it helps our ``Read to Succeed’’ program with the school district and we’re able to impact first- and second-graders who are vulnerable in the area of reading. This money goes a long way toward helping us serve those vulnerable children.’’

Upon hearing that her organization – which will be partnering with Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida – was awarded a $300,000 grant, Grace Medical Home Inc. Director of Philanthropy Lynn Fleming Ivanek joyously pumped her fist in celebration. Immediately, she said she thought about all the lives that will be impacted by the grant money awarded by OMYF.

``It’s exciting about the collaboration (with Second Harvest Food Bank) and doing something with the magic for the first time and being able to make a difference in the kids’ lives that we’re going to be working with,’’ Fleming Ivanek said. ``We’re just over the moon about this whole thing.’’

Grace Medical Home won the OMYF grant just as it is moving into a new building and expanding the scope of its services. Grace Medical is a non-profit doctors’ office that serves the low-income, uninsured of Central Florida to offer them physical, mental and spiritual care. Their top priority is to take care of those considered to be, ``left behind,’’ Fleming Ivanek said. The OMYF grant money awarded on Friday will help them to better do that, she added.

``This will help us see more patients and help us do exactly what we were setting out to do, which is taking care of more children and taking care of their needs,’’ Fleming Ivanek said. ``The way that the Magic supports the community, going above and beyond like this, it’s mind-blowing, really. They don’t have to do this, but I love how they especially focus on the youth. The youth are our future, they’re our community and they’re going to be running this city one day. So, the fact that the Magic are helping them, that’s a really big deal.’’

Assuredly, Rich and Helen DeVos would have been proud hearing those words and knowing that the Magic continue to make a difference in the Central Florida community.

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