Through DeVos Family and Orlando Magic’s Compassion and Generosity, Many Central Florida Nonprofits Will Be Able to Help More Children

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - Giving back to Central Florida nonprofit agencies that help underserved children and families is something the DeVos family and the entire Orlando Magic organization take pride in doing every year. With the U.S. fighting the pandemic for a full year now and with so many still struggling, it felt even more important to them in 2021 to donate to those who need that extra assistance.

Despite all of the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation’s (OMYF) annual fundraising events getting cancelled over the last year because of COVID-related gathering and event restrictions, the Magic announced they are going to hand out grants totaling $1 million to local charities, $700,000 of which will be coming directly from the DeVos family.

“It certainly was more significant just because of the difficulties that everybody has faced in so many different and unique ways, ways that we could have never imagined,” Magic Chairman Dan DeVos said during Wednesday’s virtual ceremony to announce and honor the first wave of recipients. “But, the good news is the organizations are getting very creative and very involved in different ways to fulfill the needs of the community. That’s been great to see. Everybody has been stepping up in any way that they can. We are just happy to step up in our way.”

The six organizations that received aid on Wednesday are all working in pairs on long-term collaborative projects to benefit children. Each pair was given $100,000 for a total of $300,000 distributed today. Each of these efforts have received identical financial awards the past two years as well for these same groups. This year’s gifts to them represents the final year of their collaborative grants, a three-year commitment that was developed to support long-term, impactful and lasting solutions to complex issues.

AdventHealth Foundation and Hebni Nutrition Consultants’ Healthy Weight and Wellness program offers healthy cooking workshops, access to fresh fruits and vegetables, weekly coaching and more to low-income children.

The Orlando Science Center and Early Learning Coalition of Osceola County’s Ignite Discovery program provides professional development training for 150 early childhood educators throughout 50 classrooms. Hands-on, immersive and virtual classroom workshops for low income children will be offered, encouraging them to use STEM to explore and interpret their world.

The Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and Grace Medical Home’s Food is Medicine for Healthier Kids program improves the health of Grace pediatric patients by incorporating access to healthy food, nutrition education and counseling with the highest quality medical care for more than 100 low-income, uninsured children in Orange County.

The remaining $700,000 will be donated to other organizations selected by the Magic through a grant process that started this week and will be open through May.

With the OMYF only having $300,000 in their account because of all the fundraising event cancellations, there was some uncertainty about how they were going to be able to continue giving $1 million like they’ve done for many years. Through their incredible compassion and generosity, the DeVos Family made sure that tradition would continue with no interruptions.

“When I got the call from Dan, it was very, very overwhelming,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said. “We’re incredibly appreciative to Dan and his family for making this very significant contribution so that we can make sure that the great work that all the organizations are doing with our youth in Central Florida can continue.”

The pandemic has forced many companies to adjust how they do business. It’s been the same for nonprofit groups. Virtual activities and lessons has become the norm, and while that’s been a challenge for organizations to adapt to, through their creativity and innovativeness along with the assistance from the outside community they have stayed focused on helping as many children as possible.

“I’m blown away truthfully by our not-for-profit community,” OMYF President/Magic Vice President of Community and Government Affairs Linda Landman Gonzalez said. “Alex mentioned United Way. They have done the most extraordinary fundraising work, especially in the area of looking outside of the community for help. But, these agencies have tripled, quadrupled and sometimes seven times have more issues and situations than they had before. The fact that our community has stepped up is (tremendous). There is a statistic that philanthropic giving has gone up almost 25 percent during the pandemic, so those who can have contributed and the agencies have done an extraordinary job of reaching out, asking, sharing what the need is and getting the work done. We live in an enormously wonderful community and these agencies that we support through OMYF are the cream of the crop on how to serve and how to make sure they fulfill their promise.”

Under normal circumstances when gatherings are safe, one of the main ways OMYF raises money is through events such as the OMYF Open Golf Tournament and the Orlando Wine Festival and Auction. The hope is that with the vaccines becoming more widely available that they will get to resume those activities in the near future.

“Obviously, vaccination and the ability to receive it is paramount to us getting past this pandemic,” Landman Gonzalez said. “Our community, especially our city and county and the surrounding areas, they have done an extraordinary job of disseminating the vaccination through various ways. We’ve had so much success in that area. So, I applaud all of our elected officials and our government for doing such a great job. But I would say, that we all have to understand that being vaccinated is part of the remedy and the success of us being able to return to what we hope will be the new normal.”

The Magic and the DeVos family are committed to making a difference in Central Florida. Each year, the Magic gives more than $2 million to Central Florida by way of sponsorships of events, donated tickets, autographed merchandise and grants. At the heart of the Magic’s charitable efforts is the work done by the OMYF.

The OMYF is committed to helping children in Central Florida realize their full potential, especially those most at-risk, by supporting nonprofit organizations offering youth-based programs in the areas of education, housing/homelessness, the arts and health programs focused on preventing childhood obesity.

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