Through The Orlando Magic Youth Fund, a McCormick Foundation Fund, $1 Million Distributed to 18 Central Florida Organizations

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By John Denton

Jan. 20, 2016

ORLANDO – Leave it up to CEO Alex Martins and play-by-play voice David Steele – two men who have been around since the Orlando Magic’s infancy and have seen the organization do so much good in 27 seasons – to sum up the sharing tenor of the Orlando Magic Youth Fund’s $1 million giveaway to 18 Central Florida non-profit agencies.

``This is my favorite day of the year,’’ said Martins, a line that was echoed by Steele prior to the OMYF handing out oversized checks to the various selected organizations in an emotion-filled ceremony held at the Amway Center on Wednesday morning.

Not surprisingly, many in the crowd responded with knowing head nods and the phrase, ``ours too,’’ when Martins stressed that the charitable day had become the most significant moment for a Magic organization that has a long history of giving back.

Through the OMYF, a McCormick Foundation Fund (OMYF-MFF), $1 million in grants were presented to 18 organizations on Wednesday. Shrieks of emotion, tear-filled eyes and joyous fist pumps highlighted the ceremony – real emotion pouring out because of the awareness of how the funds will help touch the lives of so many in need in Central Florida.

``This day gives us the opportunity to impact a lot of youth here in Central Florida because these organizations here are doing incredible work,’’ Martins said. ``Unfortunately, they have a lot of children who are utilizing their services and they need financial assistance. To be able to help (the 18 organizations) financially do their work, it’s really gratifying for us.’’

With funds raised by the OMYF, and the 50 percent match provided by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Magic were able to distribute $1 million for an eighth time. Over the past six years alone nearly $6 million has been granted through OMYF-MFF. And in the 26-year life of the OMYF, some $19.8 million in grants have been handed out to more than 500 local organizations – money that has helped to have an impact on approximately 2 million underserved children and adults.

``The support that we get from the Magic and the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation is critical for us to be able to keep our doors open and critical to us continuing to serving the youth that we do,’’ said Mack Reid, the Chief Operating Officer of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida, whose organization received a $100,000 grant for its education and career programs. ``The Magic are known for their community support and for being philanthropic leaders in Central Florida. This speaks to the leadership of the DeVos family and everyone in the Magic organization. They see the importance of organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs, and also the other organizations here today.’’

The impact that OMYF has had on those in need throughout Central Florida has helped to fulfill the long-term vision that legendary owner Rich DeVos had for the team when he purchased it 25 years ago. DeVos wanted the Magic’s reach and impact to stretch well beyond the basketball court and that certainly has been the case with a storied history of giving back.

``My family and I are so excited to be a part of the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation and play a role in the difference that we’ve been able to make in the lives of so many children in Central Florida,’’ Magic Chairman Dan DeVos said on Wednesday.

Added Martins, who said that days like Wednesday always make him think of Rich DeVos’ caring nature: ``When Mr. DeVos bought this team 25 years ago he said that he was just the caretaker of this team for the community. He wanted (the Magic) to be a pillar of the community that would have a positive impact on a lot of people. This is just one of the ways that we do it and it’s a significant way.’’

After an extensive five-phase process, which began in April of 2015, the beneficiaries were recommended by the OMYF Board and then approved by the McCormick Foundation’s Board of Directors. This year’s recipients are: Adult Literacy League ($40,000); Aspire Health Partners (Zebra Coalition) ($100,000); Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida ($100,000); Central Florida YMCA ($45,000); Children’s Home Society of Florida ($35,000); City Year Orlando ($50,000); Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida ($50,000); Early Learning Coalition of Orange County ($50,000); Florida Hospital for Children ($75,000); Foundation for Foster Children ($40,000); Foundation for Orange County Public Schools ($50,000); Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools ($25,000); Foundation for Seminole State College of Florida ($50,000); Harbor House of Central Florida ($75,000); Hope Community Center ($75,000); Howard Philips Center for Children & Families ($50,000); Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando ($40,000); Junior Achievement of Central Florida ($50,000).

``We were so very excited, thrilled and surprised that we were able to receive the full funding this year,’’ said Zebra Coalition Director Heather Wilkie, whose group provides emergency housing and support services to homeless and runaway LGBT youth throughout Central Florida. ``We wouldn’t be able to provide the resources or the case management that really helps the youth move toward self-sufficiency. We’re able to do that because of OMYF, so we’re super grateful for them.’’

The Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, an organization that has had a long-standing partnership with the Magic, received a $50,000 grant on Wednesday. That money comes on the heels of the Magic hosting a Thanksgiving breakfast for more than 800 families in need – the 23rd straight year that the Magic have spent the holiday helping the underserved.

``The help from the Magic is critical to our organization, but it’s also critical to our community because there are those who are in desperate need,’’ Coalition President and CEO Brent Trotter said. ``The generosity of the Orlando Magic and the OMYF is going to allow us to move families from the crisis of homelessness into housing more rapidly. We’re able to make that homeless gab smaller, which is critical to people going through that. It’s huge for people who need help the most.’’

It’s stories like that and others such as the one conveyed on Wednesday morning from leaders of the Hope Community Center to Martins that let him know that the Magic are having a massive impact all across the Central Florida community. The good news, Martins said, is that the Magic and so many organizations are doing great work to help those most in need. The bad news, he added, is that there are still many more Central Floridians struggling to get ahead and provide hope for their children. That’s why the Magic must continue to be leaders in giving back to make Orlando a better place to live for everyone involved, Martins stressed.

``Our mission statement says it all – we want to be World Champions on and off the court. This is the off-the-court piece,’’ Martins said of the Magic’s $1 million grants and their many outreach operations. ``It’s important for us to have a positive impact in this community because this community gives so much to us in terms of support. This is where we live, this is where our families live, this is where our players live and we want this to be the best community in America. And in order to do that, we have to give back so that our youth have some hope for the future.’’

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