Irven Sumlar
Rachaell Davis
Jul, 08, 2018

Smiles were plenty, hearts were full and even a few tears flowed in New Orleans on Thursday afternoon as representatives from Disney surprised the APEX Youth Center with a check for $25,000 during the 2018 ESSENCE Festival Day of Service.

APEX Executive Director, Lisa Fitzpatrick, and her husband, Danny, were overwhelmed with gratitude as Vice President of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts & Executive Champion for Disney Dreamers Academy, Tracey Powell, closed out to the Festival’s Apex Youth Center beautification day with the presentation of the generous donation.

As she presented the couple with the generous gift for the youth center, Powell shared kinds words about the work they’ve done to affect change in the local New Orleans community through the youth center and why Disney was proud to support their efforts.

Irven Sumlar

"As we’ve said, we are so honored to be a part of the day of service," Powell said, while speaking to an audience of teen volunteers, local community members and press onsite at the youth center. “You’ve been doing this for 10 years and you’ve been making such a huge, huge difference in the community, only because of the fact that you needed to make the difference. You saw the need and you stepped into the need. So, we at Disney, and Walt Disney World specifically, are so incredibly proud to be here with you and to be able to share this day with you and with everyone here in the community and with that, we have a little something for you. We’d like to give you this small input to be able to continue to help your dreams move forward and make a difference in the community.”

Powell also reminded the young people present to that the application process for the coveted Disney Dreamers Academy is still open and also encouraged them to spread the word.

For Walt Disney World ambassador, Ken Facey, the moment was one just as special for Disney as it was for the deserving recipients.

"Disney has been coming to the ESSENCE Festival for several years and we’re so excited that we’ve been invited to partake in the Day of Service. When we look at our alignment for giving back in the community, we love to concentrate on families and youth and mentoring and how to bring that together so, there’s really no better place than the APEX Youth Center. It literally stands for excellence. So, when we came in here and we saw the great work they were doing and how they are giving back to the youth, we saw that as our opportunity to give back to them so they can continue to do an excellent job here in New Orleans. So, that’s why it’s so special for us to be here right now and a great way to kick off this partnership and the ESSENCE Festival."

For more on our ESSENCE Day of Service, plus everything you’re missing at the 2018 ESSENCE Festival, check out ESSENCE.com.