OMYF Spotlight: Hope CommUnity Center

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO – Transitioning from high school to college can be difficult and stressful – as anyone who has gone through the process can attest to.

The Hope CommUnity Center, which serves to empower Central Florida’s immigrant and working poor communities through education, advocacy and spiritual growth, is helping make the transition a little less overwhelming for high school kids in the area with their College and Career Access Program.

With a $50,000 donation from the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation (OMYF) this year, Hope CommUnity Center will be able to help even more students make a successful leap from high school to college.

“Really appreciative (of the Magic),” said Dulce Barrera, Director of Hope’s College and Career Access Program. “We normally run through grants and this is how we are able to provide that access to our students. So, the more money we have the more access we can give them with our assistance.”

The OMYF’s financial assistance is going to help augment and expand the services this program provides, which includes personal and education growth, information about colleges and universities, college exposure through college fairs and tours, college preparation and applications, scholarship research and lessons on writing and editing a professional resume.

Hope CommUnity Center, one of 16 local organizations that received a combined $1 million-plus from the OMYF in 2020, also offers scholarship funds annually for students to attend any technical school or two-year or four-year college or university. Last year, $62,500 was awarded to 38 students combined, helping each of them concentrate exclusively on their academics and career goals rather than costs.

Over the past 30 years, more than $25 million has been distributed by the OMYF to assist and inspire Central Florida children.

"On behalf of the entire DeVos family, we are so honored to be able to give back to this great Orlando community each year on this very important day," said Magic Chairman Dan DeVos. "The foundation of our family has always been one surrounded in community work whether it is through time, treasure or whatever you are able to give. It is incredibly important because we all benefit so much from this amazing community. I truly am honored to be able to share in the excitement of all of these very deserving organizations."

The DeVos family’s investment in the OMYF covers all administrative costs which allows for 100 percent of all donations to go directly to the foundation to benefit children and families in need throughout Central Florida each year. The OMYF raises community dollars annually through donations, auctions and events such as the OMYF Open Golf Tournament and the upcoming 2020 Orlando Wine Festival and Auction.

The second annual Orlando Wine Festival and Auction, the signature fundraiser for the OMYF, will be held March 13-15, 2020 at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. The weekend of events is set to feature exclusive vintner dinners, an outdoor festival featuring live music, live auction displays, an e-auction, local and celebrity chefs, wineries, and food pavilions, along with Magic players and coaches. Each guest also receives an invitation to the OMYF grant ceremony, where all funds from the Orlando Wine Festival and Auction will be distributed to local nonprofit organizations. Last year's Orlando Wine Festival & Auction raised $900,000 for the OMYF.

Community work is a large part of the Magic’s culture and in the Magic’s mission statement to be world champions on and off the court. As part of the team’s community commitment, the Magic’s Volunteer Program (MVP) was developed in 2006 to encourage Magic employees to get out and get involved in the community. The program started with the goal of performing 2,000 hours of community service during the 2006-‘07 season; 3,800 hours were tracked that first year. Since program inception, more than 80,000 hours in the Central Florida community have been tracked.

The MVP is unique in that it allows Magic employees to volunteer during work hours. As an added incentive, employees who reach a certain level of volunteer hours will be rewarded and receive a monetary donation to the charity of their choice. Magic staff distributed $6,100 to local charities of their choice over the past season alone. There is also an annual award given to the Magic staff member who contributes the most hours in the community.

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