Throughout their 30-year marriage, Winter Park residents, Don and Cindy Diebel, have built a foundation of love, trust and philanthropy. Both retired from successful healthcare careers – Don as an obstetrician and gynecologist and Cindy as a critical care respiratory therapist – the couple has a heart helping others.
The Diebels recognized the importance of giving back at a young age and instilled the same values in their children when they were young. With the belief that learning the concepts of philanthropy start in your own home, they taught their sons that no matter the amount, if you’re in the position to give then you should.
Through the years, Don and Cindy have supported organizations close to their hearts, both here in Orlando and in their home states. Don grew up in New York and Cindy in Michigan.
They founded the N. Donald Diebel, Jr. M.D. Good Samaritan Fund through the Central Florida Foundation following the tragic death of their son in 2002 after he stopped to help at an accident scene on the Florida Turnpike. Its purpose has been to carry on his legacy by giving back to causes that were important to him. It’s now being managed by their grandson while they focus on other local projects – another example of creating a legacy of giving through the generations.
Through a separate fund, they have supported organizations like the Grace Medical Home and Shepherd’s Hope. Then they were presented with an opportunity to join local business leaders and corporations in getting involved in a project that would benefit one of the most distressed zip codes in the Orlando area. The Diebels recently donated $1 million to Lift Orlando, a nonprofit that is working to strengthen the neighborhoods surrounding Camping World Stadium, to assist with the construction the Heart of West Lakes Wellness Center in the Communities of West Lakes.
As we had been doing these other projects, we were trying to find one that embraced a lot of different needs and things we wanted to do. I think Lift Orlando just really fulfilled that.- Don Diebel
The Heart of West Lakes Wellness Center will be a gathering place for residents of the communities within the 32805 zip code. They can share a healthy meal or a cup of coffee at the community café on the first floor or have playdates and picnics in the outdoor green spaces. Most importantly, they can build a community focused on the wellbeing of themselves and their neighbors.
“The sense of community is the keystone here,” Don said. “These are neighborhoods where you want to have community. The Heart of West Lakes, which is the name that residents came up with for the building, will hopefully be that – a place where people can gather, talk, help one another. I think the building is certainly going to be a tremendous resource for the community.”
It will also be an important medical hub for residents. The building’s second floor will be home to a healthcare center with a broad range of services, all under one roof. Community Health Centers, Inc. will provide primary care, behavioral care and other much-needed healthcare services for residents even if they don’t have insurance coverage. That means more jobs and more access to preventative healthcare, making for a healthier community overall.
“With both of us having a medical background, I’m excited about this being an access point for healthcare,” Don said.
In both their careers, their personal contributions to their community, and their relationship, the Diebels are a true example. Cindy said she feels privileged to have found someone so compatible with her as a life partner and hopes she and Don will continue to live their lives as kind people to each other and those around them.
“So often, people migrate or can change, and I think that’s more of an accomplishment than bridges you might have built or houses you might have erected,” Cindy said, noting that they wish to “live our lives as kind people with eyes open.”
For both Don and Cindy, their medical careers allowed them to help other people every day in one small way or another. “I think just the feeling of being there for someone else who needs it is a great feeling and a sense of satisfaction,” Don said.
The Heart of West Lakes Wellness Center is expected to open this fall, and the Diebels are looking forward to connecting with residents in the community café over a cup of a coffee.