ORLANDO – On Orange County’s Pace Center for Girls website is a story about a 17-year-old girl named Jacqueline, who overcame many obstacles while enrolled in Pace’s academic program. Inspiring and motivating, Jacqueline’s journey can certainly help steer other teenage girls down the right path.
That’s Pace Center for Girls’ goal. So many girls who have been in the program have turned their lives around, and that’s what makes what Pace does so invigorating. It finds the great in every girl, especially those who may be struggling to find their way because of traumatic experiences in their lives.
With some financial assistance from the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation (OMYF), Pace Center for Girls will be able to help even more girls, aged 11-18, in Orange, Seminole and Osceola Counties improve their academic performance, gain more self-confidence and make better, healthier decisions in life. A $100,000 donation was presented to Pace Center in January of 2020 as part of the OMYF’s mission to improve children’s lives throughout Central Florida.
“On behalf of our girls, this means the world to us and to them because it means that our girls are not forgotten and that’s the significance of today’s event,” said Rosene Johnson, executive director at Pace Center for Girls in Orange County. “We are very, very grateful.”
The grant money from the OMYF is specifically going to help support, strengthen and expand Pace’s academic program. Pace’s plan is to increase the services they offer at its Winter Park location and upgrade its classroom environments.
Founded in 1985, Pace now has 21 locations throughout Florida, including one in Orange County. The center employs certified teachers and masters-level counselors, who are all trained to help young girls reverse misfortune and give them the confidence they need to reach their full potential. Since inception, Pace has changed the life trajectory of over 40,000 girls throughout the state.
“Pace gives young girls a place to learn, to grow and to heal after experiencing traumatic events in their lives,” Johnson said. “Through our academic and counseling program, we have the ability to help these young ladies go from very challenging pasts to very promising futures. We don’t consider our girls at risk, we consider them at promise and that’s what we help them be able to see.”
Pace Center for Girls 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.