Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

ORLANDO – Our early-adulthood experiences and what we learn during that time are critical to our long-term development. The quicker we mature and the more knowledge we acquire from 18 to our early 20s makes a huge difference.

IMPOWER, a leading non-profit mental health, substance misuse and child well-being organization, opens doors for young people as they transition from being a kid to an adult. Specifically, its transitional housing program, The Village, assists homeless and former foster care youth and offers them the resources they need to reach their full potential.

Now, with a financial boost from the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation (OMYF), IMPOWER will be able to help its 18 to 23-year-old Village residents even more. The $50,000 it received from the OMYF will go directly towards that housing program, which provides support, comprehensive services and housing for young adults who have either aged out of the foster care system or have found themselves precariously housed or are on the brink of being homeless.

“This helps change their lives,” said Marcie Dearth, vice president external relations at IMPOWER. “It gives them a place to call home while they work on transitioning to adulthood.”

“This particular program depends almost entirely on philanthropy, so this truly makes an enormous, enormous change,” she added about OMYF's donation. “It gives these kids a chance. We are very grateful.”

While at The Village, which is quite similar to living in a dorm at a college, residents gain critical skills that help them in their pursuit of a successful career. They also receive access to legal services, substance abuse and prevention programs, mental health services, and job skills training.

Even after they graduate from the program, IMPOWER’s staff continue to monitor their progress through voluntary Permanency and Extended Support Services (PESS).

IMPOWER was one of 16 organizations that received a combined $1 million-plus from the OMYF this year. Over the past 30 years, more than $25 million has been distributed by the OMYF to empower 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.