St. Cecilia Music Center Launches the Helen DeVos Legacy Award to Celebrate Arts & Culture within the West Michigan Community

PRESS RELEASE — St. Cecilia Music Center (SCMC) hosted the first annual Helen DeVos Legacy Award Event to honor the late Helen DeVos, arts advocate and philanthropist, for her lifelong support of the arts and culture in the West Michigan community. The event, held on March 23, 2019 during Women’s History month, also celebrated SCMC’s 135th anniversary and the history of women at St. Cecilia Music Center.

Executive Director, Cathleen Holbrook says, “SCMC was built through the efforts of women. We are very pleased to establish this inaugural award and to honor Mrs. DeVos for all of her efforts in promoting the arts in West Michigan.  We’re especially pleased that we’ll be moving forward in the future to honor other women in the community who have really made a difference in the cultural life of Grand Rapids, in Helen DeVos’ name.”

Helen DeVos’ generosity helped transform the local education, health care and arts sectors, specifically her support of music locally, as well as, nationally, forever changing the scope and trajectory of many arts organizations and insuring high quality musical experiences for community members into the future.  

“My mother has always been a lover of the arts and the community. She knew that the arts and music were an important part of a well-balanced community, said son Dan DeVos. “There was always a special place in my mother’s heart for St. Cecilia.  I remember coming here as a child and I think that what she liked was that there was something for everybody here – the young, the old, and the up and comers who were just beginning to learn more about music. The variety here is what she connected to and why she served at St. Cecilia Music Center for so many years.”

In subsequent years, SCMC will present the Helen DeVos Legacy Award to a West Michigan woman who has demonstrated exemplary service within the arts and whose efforts have helped expand the cultural landscape of the city.

The late Richard DeVos, who approved the creation of the award in his wife’s name in 2018, was thrilled that Helen’s legacy would be honored and remembered in this way by St. Cecilia Music Center and the entire West Michigan community for years to come.

The Helen DeVos Legacy Award event included video presentations about Helen DeVos’ arts and cultural legacy, the 135 – year history of St. Cecilia Music Center, and a live performance by the DeVos Quartet. The members of the DeVos Quartet recalled cherished moments and the service that Helen DeVos gave to Grand Rapids Symphony performers and to the DeVos Quartet members. The DeVos Quartet was formed in 1974 under the sponsorship of Richard and Helen DeVos who were advocates and supporters, at that time, in transforming the Grand Rapids Symphony, a community group of performers, into a professional symphony with members recruited from all over the United States and abroad. 

Helen DeVos’ Arts Legacy 

  • Member, Board Member, and President of the Board at St. Cecilia Music Center – 1970 – 1974.
  • Grand Rapids Symphony Honorary Board Member and Honorary Executive Member – 1971 – 2017
  • Founding Sponsors (with Richard DeVos) of The DeVos Quartet and The Artist in Residence Program (comprised of GR Symphony performers)
  • Life Member of the Grand Rapids Symphony Women’s Committee
  • Honorary Board Member for The League of American Orchestras in New York City
  • The Gold Baton Award – League of American Orchestras – 2012
  • Bravo! Lifetime Achievement Award- Grand Rapids Symphony – 1991 & 2007
  • William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership – 2006 
  • Grand Rapids Arts Council Award – 1978

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