The Mount Dora Patrons of the Community Building Bring Benefactors Together for Dazzling Results

The finishing touches have made the lobby of the beautifully renovated Community Building even more attractive and functional

“There are women who make things better, there are women who change things, there are women who make things happen, who make a difference. I want to be one of those women.”  ~ Vera Farmiga


Women who make a difference are abundant in Mount Dora.  Four of them have united to make a difference in Mount Dora’s Community Building.

For more than 80 years, the Community Building has played host to community groups, plays, concerts, and school and city events.  The Mediterranean Revival-style building, constructed in 1929, underwent a $2.8 million restoration and expansion work over several years.  Most of the funding came from the Community Redevelopment Agency but the City also received some private donations.

View of the Lobby, which is now comfortably furnished – and lit with subtle, attractive new wall sconces

In recognition of the ever-increasing use of the building, and the variety of venues hosted there, it became apparent that there were unmet and unbudgeted needs; e.g., inadequate sound system, lack of seating in the lobby.  Meeting those, and other needs, would enhance the experience of all participating parties.  In an effort to meet those needs, the Mount Dora Patrons of the Community Building (Patrons) was organized as a  501(c)(3) corporation.  The primary purpose of the corporation is to provide supplemental funding for the Mount Dora Community Building over and above the traditional tax funding.  The corporation is noncommercial, nonsectarian and nonpartisan.  See

Rozann Abato and Judy Smathers hanging artwork in the lobby of the Community Building

The Board is currently comprised of the following individuals who volunteer their time and talent:  Renee Milota, President; Judy Smathers, Vice President, Rozann Abato, Secretary; and, Arliss Turner, Treasurer.  Their first major initiative was to furnish the lobby of the Community Building.  While beautiful in architectural elements, there was no place for guests to sit while waiting for a performance to begin or during intermission.  This was particularly problematic for many seniors who are unable to stand for lengthy periods.  Additionally, the lobby would be more “welcoming” if it offered comfort to those in attendance.

Support the Mount Dora Community Building and enjoy world class entertainment by attending the upcoming Mark Steven Schmidt Concert

The  first challenge was to raise funds.  A concert was held in December 2014 and yielded enough funds to begin operations.  Another, featuring tenor Mark Steven Schmidt, is planned for Sunday, September 20 and citizens are encouraged to attend.  Tickets can be purchased or from Mount Dora Parks and Recreation.  (Call 352-383-2165 for more information.)  Main Street Leasing has donated monies to fund the concert so that the Patrons can benefit from ticket sales.  The Patrons have also been supported by the Mount Dora Area Chamber of Commerce, Pisces Rising, Mount Dora Live and the City of Mount Dora Parks and Recreation.

The Patrons are excited that the lobby has been furnished and is now ready for the guests to arrive.  This was primarily made possible by a generous grant from the Mount Dora Community Trust as well as monies received from private citizens.  The walls are adorned with fabulous artwork on loan from the Mount Dora Center for the Arts.  Another significant donation, which will allow the Patrons to move forward on other projects to enhance the use and enjoyment of the Community Building, was made by the Mount Dora Library Association.  The “women who are making a difference” are very grateful to those who have helped them reach their first goal – furnishing the lobby – and to continue moving forward in service to the community.

Rozann Abato, Guest Columnist