Mount Dora Community Trust Looks to the Future

Chris Carson, Roy Hughes and Kenny Hutzler (with the City of Mount Dora) stand with Kevin Batliner in the Mount Dora Community Building - where the Community Trust is considering assistance with the building's sound system

Kevin Batliner, Executive Director of the Mount Dora Community Trust is looking forward to some big changes happening in 2016.

Next month, the Community Trust is moving to a new location, down the street from First National Bank of Mount Dora, where it has been based for 44 years.

The Mount Dora Community Trust is non-profit organization that was established in 1972.  It’s mission is to support the organizations that build our community, as well as activities that bring people together to build a stronger city.  First National Bank serves as trustee of funds that are donated to the Community Trust; and that won’t change.  But the Community Trust operations will be moving out of the bank in March – and that represents a big change.

Batliner says he thinks the move will help people understand the distinct role of the Mount Dora Community Trust, apart from First National Bank.  “There has always been a misconception about our Trust and its relationship with First National Bank.  The bank manages the money, but the Community Trust is a separate organization.”  Batliner says its been a great partnership, but it’s time to move on.

“Frankly, the bank is growing and needs more space.  We’ve gotten bigger and we need more room.  Our footprint has grown, ” Batliner says.  “This move is really about planning for the future of the Trust.  We are establishing a pathway for the next generation who work for, and with, the Community Trust.  It’s time we have a separate location, stand on our own a bit more.”

First National Bank will continue to manage funds, as that is the way the guiding documents of the Mount Dora Community Trust are written, but the operational staff and public outreach for the Trust will relocate down the street, operating from a separate building.  “We will always have a great relationship with First National Bank,” says Batliner, “but we’re going to be out there standing on our own, now.  We’ll will be paying our own rent; we will be in our own building. But, the Mount Dora Community Trust will be a strong and vibrant community asset, as always.”

Batliner is looking forward to the challenges and the new role the changes will bring.  “I will focus on my role as a development officer for the Trust,” he says enthusiastically.  “I will be doing more fundraising, working more to build the value of the Trust.”  He says he hopes to at least double the value of the Trust, currently $15 million.

Going forward, one of the goals Batliner has is to work to establish more partnerships between the Trust and local organizations.  “We want to touch as many members of the community as possible.  We see the greatest opportunity to do that by expanding our assistance through partnerships with other non-profit organizations in town.  By working to match funds – to partner with groups like he Mount Dora Library Association, or the Mount Dora Area Chamber of Commerce, or Visit Mount Dora – we can accomplish more for the community,” Batliner says. “Stand alone grants only go so far. That synergy of working together, not only does that bring more money to the table, but working together builds the community and bonds it further,” he says.

Besides its current work, processing grants and scholarships, Batliner says the Trust is currently in discussions about ways they can assist with needed improvements to the sound system in the Mount Dora Community Building.  “We know that the sound system is definitely becoming more of an issue, as we hear from the different organizations scheduling performances in the building,” he says.  “Whether that’s the Mount Dora Music Festival, Visit Mount Dora, or the Library Association – we know and understand that these sponsors are having to pay extra money to accommodate the needs of performers in a lot of cases; because the building’s sound system is currently lacking.  If we are able to all work together to improve it, with Community Trust assistance, all the organizations will benefit.”  But, he says, the Community Trust is operating as facilitators to meet the need.  The next step is up to the City or the event organizers.  “The ball is in their court – to define their needs, so the Trust can assess its ability to help.”

Batliner is excited about the future of the Mount Dora Community Trust and the opportunities that await as it stands on its own.  “Besides the grants we do, we are seeing growth both in endowments to the trust and scholarship requests.  That’s the area where we are growing most rapidly in need.  This year, we had about 35 grants to the community.  But, we gave out about 75 scholarships.”  He says that with the new building and the software and webpage updates planned for the Trust, he is hopeful that they reach out to even more of the community – to make them aware of the benefits and opportunities involved in working with the Trust.

“This year is really going to be exciting,” says Batliner.  “We’re going to a new building, we have new staff, we are setting the foundation for the Mount Dora Community Trust to move forward.  People who live here and work here, we’re all looking for the same thing.  We all think Mount Dora is Someplace Special.  We all want to work to see that the good works of the community continue as Mount Dora grows.”

To learn more about donating to or applying for grants with the Mount Dora Community Trust: MDCT link.

Melissa DeMarco, Editor (editor@mountdoracitizen.com)