1 million in grants to local charities

The Orlando Magic Youth Foundation handed out $1 million in grants to local charities Wednesday money that will help tens of thousands of kids and teens facing everything from illiteracy to diabetes to domestic violence.

The Magic broke the news in an NBA draft style event at the Amway Center. David Steele, the team’s TV play by play announcer, called representatives from each nonprofit recipient up to the front, where they were given basketball trophies, framed jerseys and fat checks.

“This is huge,” said Sister Ann Kendrick, a co founder of the Hope CommUnity Center in Apopka, which received a $100,000 grant for its tutoring, mentoring and leadership development program for middle and high school students.

“We don’t have a big budget,” Kendrick said. “We’re like a little fish, but today we’re swimming with the big fish.”

She and her colleagues cheered, hugged and cried as their organization and the size of its grant were announced. It was the first time the foundation has given out checks of $100,000 apiece an amount that went to five of the 19 charities funded.

The other four were the Howard Phillips Center for Children and Families, Florida Hospital for Children, the Valencia Community College Foundation and Harbor House, Orange County’s domestic violence and prevention center.

“It’s just incredibly exciting,” said Harbor House CEO Carol Wick. The nonprofit will use its grant money for a domestic violence prevention program mandated by the 2010 Legislature to run in all public schools.

“To be able to have this funding will affect the lives of so many kids and so many communities, and we’re just thrilled that the Magic are working hand in hand with us,” Wick said.

It was one of the largest private grants Harbor House has ever received.

At the Howard Phillips Center, the new grant will help fund a program that provides free medical and mental health care to low income teens across Orange County, largely via a mobile medical unit.wholesale nfl jerseys from china Marie Martinez, operations manager for the nonprofit, said the money will cover follow up efforts for kids who are found to have more serious medical issues, such as asthma, diabetes and obesity related high blood pressure.

The $1 million giveaway was the team’s biggest charitable distribution since 2002. In past years, the Magic have simply presented the checks during halftime on game nights. This year, Magic President Alex Martins said, they wanted to give the nonprofit leaders some time to celebrate together.

“This makes it particularly fun and exciting because they don’t necessarily know they have been selected for a grant, and they certainly don’t know what amount they’re receiving,” Martins said before the event. “It’s one of my favorite days of the year.”

The money is especially precious in what for many has been an era of unprecedented demand and funding cutbacks.

“These days, the need for direct financial assistance from our program has increased close to 30 percent since just a few years ago,” said Karen Broussard, director of program development at Jewish Family Services of Metro Orlando. The nonprofit won a $50,000 grant for its family stabilization effort, which helps those tumbling toward foreclosure and bankruptcy.

“This helps us stabilize the immediate needs of the family so that they can go through the program and really learn how to deal with their situations,” Broussard said.

The Magic’s foundation has given out grant money each of the 21 years since its creation, but this is only the sixth time the total has topped the $1 million mark. Hundreds of agencies apply for the funds, which are raised through the Magic’s annual Black Tie Tennies Gala as well as an annual golf tournament, auctions of autographed sports memorabilia and fines against players for breaking team rules, such as being late to practice.

“It is part of our mission to be world champions both on and off the court,” Martins said. “It is so rewarding to us to be able to go to these children’s organizations and see the need and ultimately be able to make a contribution to the work they’re doing.”