In Loving Memory of Mrs. Naomi Bassa 1950-2017


Mrs. Naomi Robinson Bassa is a person who shone on a daily basis and consistently allowed her light to be radiated to those she served and interacted with. She resided in the Rock Lake neighborhood, where she had lived since 1996. She was actively involved with her homeowners association and also served as their Neighborhood Watch president. 

Mrs. Bassa was raised in a family in which she had nineteen siblings. They farmed pigs and cows and grew various crops of vegetables, such as peas and potatoes. At an early age, she learned to function within a team environment, to love people, resolve conflict, and to accept others as they are. She birthed ten children of her own, three of whom have passed on. She had a genuine love for children and helped raise several more who often came to her by way of unfortunate circumstances, including the eighteen-year-old she raised since he was one. She was the neighborhood baby-sitter, dropping off and picking up children attending Rock Lake Elementary when their parents were unable to. To avoid possible criminal activity, she would take her neighbors trash cans from the curb when they were away from home.

Mrs. Bassa continued to utilize those early acquired skills as part of a team of Chaplains at the Orange County Jail and at the Michigan Street Work Release Center. She ministered to inmates and officers alike, and was often affectionately referred to as  ‘Ma 8.’ She would pray, encourage, listen, and her message to all was "Let your mess be a message and let your test be a testimony." She pastored for many years and was the Senior Pastor of God's House of Worship, which was first formed as a Bible Study in her home with former inmates who wanted to continue studying with her. When they had nowhere to go upon release, she, at times, opened up her home to give them the basic need of housing and other necessities. She gave clothes to those in need.

When Mrs. Bassa had free time, she enjoyed gardening and mowing her lawn, cooking and working her part-time catering business. She was undeniably passionate about helping people and selflessly served her community using her gifts and talents. Mrs. Bassa was a Godly woman, and a great family and community leader. She will be greatly missed.

Leading by Example

We were recently honored to welcome Carol Naughton, President of Purpose Built Communities, to Orlando to meet with members of our community and discuss neighborhood revitalization. As the leader of an amazing organization doing such good work, Carol’s message should reach more than those who were able to meet her in person.

Hear from Carol, in her words.

“I’ve been deeply involved in comprehensive community development work for the past 20 years, first in the East Lake neighborhood of Atlanta, and now as a consultant leading the teams and Purpose Built Communities. These groups support local leaders in approximately 50 cities around the country who are working to create a more equitable America, to make sure that the American dream is accessible to those who had the bad luck of being born into neighborhoods that are more like sinkholes than springboards. These are local leaders who have realized that while talent is uniformly distributed throughout our country, opportunity is not. 

Purpose Built Communities is a nonprofit consultancy that was founded by three successful business people - Tom Cousins, a real estate developer from Atlanta, Julian Robertson, a hedge fund genius in New York, and Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha. These three cover all of Purpose Built’s expenses so that we are able to help local leaders implement our model of community revitalization. We offer our services without charge to local leaders who have the capacity and commitment to do this work. We bring hard working consultants and a proven model - the local team brings the leadership, partnerships and resources to implement the work in their own community.

One of the most important innovations that Purpose Built has brought to the community development world is the concept of a community quarterback, a nonprofit organization that exists to make sure these long-term, cross sectoral partnerships are implemented with excellence, with and for the people in the community who will benefit from their work. The community quarterback boards are typically made up of successful leaders from the business and civic community who use their full-range of talents, skills and relationships for the benefit of neighborhoods where people have too often been left behind.  

My colleagues and I are confident that LIFT Orlando will be successful at rebuilding the Communities of West Lakes so that it becomes a springboard, launching both children and adults into the stratosphere where they can reach their full potential. Why, you ask?  From my vantage point, it’s pretty straight forward.

- It’s leadership, at both the board and staff levels.

- It’s great plan, based on and developed from the East Lake and Purpose Built model.

- It’s sense of urgency to get this work done.

My goal is to recreate the magic that LIFT is creating throughout the country. With leaders like this, and with a great plan executed with a sense of urgency, we can create the kind of America where everyone has a chance at fulfilling the American dream.”

-       Carol Naughton

The Latest From LIFT

Here at LIFT Orlando, we’re excited and optimistic about tomorrow – excited for the Communities of West Lakes and future generations to come. As an advocate of LIFT Orlando, you too share our passion for change and together we’re making tremendous strides.

Below please find a brief fall update and the latest from LIFT.  

Are you new to LIFT, or interested in learning more about what we’re doing?  Keep scrolling to read more.  Or reach out.  Together, let’s lift Orlando.

Community Engagement

One of LIFT Orlando’s signature engagement programs, MVP Families was created in partnership with the residents of West Lakes and Florida Citrus Sports to encourage family interaction and support. The program officially kicked off in September with an event that welcomed over 95 local residents. Learn More.

Advocate Feature – PNC Foundation

Without partnerships, the amazing work underway simply would not be possible. PNC and the PNC Foundation recently joined together with LIFT Orlando to specifically support the MVP Families program. 

“We consider our support of Lift Orlando a strategic investment that helps broaden opportunities for social and economic mobility for everyone in Central Florida,” said Chad Loar, PNC Bank regional president of Florida West speaking on behalf PNC Bank and the foundation. “By supporting their holistic approach to revitalizing our region, PNC is helping to cultivate a thriving business community by emphasizing the importance of developing healthy communities, strengthening educational success, and building a strong workforce for the next generation of business leaders.”

PNC has a long history of strengthening and enriching the lives of neighbors in its communities. For decades, PNC has provided resources to seed ideas, foster development initiatives and encourage leadership in nonprofit organizations where imagination and determination are at work enhancing people's lives every day. 

We thank the PNC Foundation for their support. Without these partnerships, our work wouldn’t be possible. 


We continue to share our story with the greater community, and we’re humbled by the support of time, talents and gifts which individuals and organizations alike are sharing to support our vision.

Thank you to each of LIFT Orlando’s most recent donors and advocates!

All Aspects Dental Laboratory

BAGS, Inc.

Scott Boyd

Matthew Brenner

Mark Carbone

Celebration Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Institute

City of Orlando

Tamara Clancy

CNL Financial Group

Kyle Dawes

Dr. Phillips Charities

Walt Disney World

Duarte Ixcehll

Florida Blue

Florida Citrus Sports

Florida Housing Finance

Florida Hospital

Erin Gray

Holly Henson

Sandy Hostetter

Andrew Hyltin

Donna Ivin Bass

Megan Knapcik

John Kuykendall

Law Office of Isabelle E. Freeman, P.A.

Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A.

Sherry Magee

Maven Creative

Harold Mills

National Christian Foundation

Orange County Housing Authority

Orlando Health

Kesha Phyfer

PNC Foundation

Dave Porter

Terry Prather

Scott and Shelby Marberry

Steven Schackelford

Peter Schaeffer

Lisa Schultz

Joel Scwalbe

Jeffrey Shafer

Sy Saliba

Jayne & Tom Sittema

Talking Head Studio

Lisa Thornton

Michael Tetrick

Valley National Bank


Wells Fargo Foundation

Jennifer & Bill Dymond

Zero Chaos

Interested in supporting LIFT Orlando?  Learn more.


Did you know?

- Working with the Polis Institute, we’ve engaged residents in every step of our process

- We conducted the largest-privately funded community survey ever done locally, reaching 1,500 adults

- We’ve employed residents to support the survey and lead corresponding programs

- The West Lakes Council was created to help guide LIFT’s work and the community revitalization


Do you shop on Amazon?

Did you know when you shop through Amazon you can support LIFT Orlando? Shop on Amazon’s charity site, Amazon Smile, and Amazon will give .05% of every purchase you make to support LIFT Orlando.

Just select LIFT as the charity of your choice. You’ll see all the same deals and all the same prices, but you’ll be supporting LIFT Orlando with every purchase.


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Creating New Traditions

Partnership with Florida Citrus Sports helps to create new traditions for Central Florida’s future.

As one of LIFT Orlando’s most valuable partners, Florida Citrus Sports (FCS) is helping to engage our residents and the greater community by creating relationships and new traditions. It’s due to our partnership with FCS that we’re able to expand our reach further, and in more impactful ways than we imagined.

This month, FCS led several initiatives designed to support our shared goals and create a sense of community and building the neighborhood, in more ways than one. As a part of the College Football Playoff Foundation and their Extra Yard for Teachers Initiatives, eight local teachers were recognized on the field during the first quarter of the Camping World Kickoff game on Labor Day for their efforts and dedication to the children of the West Lakes community. These teachers included Toshia Blake and Sarah Lander from Orange Center Elementary, Sheena Garth-Clayton and Kristyn Newman from Legends Academy, Linda Benett and Jessica Thompson from Frontline Outreach, and William Bolt and Jessica Clark from Jones High School.

We thank the College Football Playoff Foundation, which seeks to elevate the teaching profession by inspiring and empowering quality teachers, for our local inclusion in this program and for recognizing our amazing local teachers!

In addition to the teacher recognition, in early October, FCS, LIFT Orlando, CNL, and Jones High School Boosters partnered to establish the Inaugural Legacy Classic – a newly-formed friendly football series at Camping World Stadium. The first game rejuvenated the old “Soul Bowl” rivalry between Jones High School and Evans High School.

Jones High School Principal Roderick Waldon shared, “The opportunity to bring the game back to a reconstructed Camping World Stadium puts the students from our community in the spotlight while also reviving this tradition-rich rivalry.”

And Steve Hogan, CEO of FCS said, “We’re excited to give these teams a platform at the center of the West Lakes neighborhoods in the reconstructed Camping World Stadium, and we’re looking forward to making this series a bigtime game for Jones High School and for the entire community.”

During the game, Jones High School honored its 1960 and 1961 football teams, which were the first in school history to finish the season undefeated.

The recognitions and Legacy Classic are two examples of the work that LIFT be a part of, thanks to partners like FCS. We thank you FCS!

Golfing for Good

LIFT partner - Frontline Outreach - featured in 32nd Annual EMCOR Services MSI Golf Benefit.

We partner with best-in-class nonprofit partners and local businesses to help accelerate community transformation.  Frontline Outreach is one of those quiet and amazing partners, and local EMCOR Services MSI is a business who helps support the good work Frontline does, including providing educational and leadership programs for urban youth and their families here in Orlando.

EMCOR Services MSI’s 32nd Annual Golf Benefit for Frontline Outreach is coming up on Friday, October 21, 2016.  

Bill Dillard with EMCOR Services MSI shared that, “Support of Frontline Outreach has tremendous potential. To equip a child with a strong foundation in early education, an understanding of accountability, and a strong sense of purpose can provide a better path to personal success.” And we couldn’t agree more.

Details are below.  If you’re interested in getting involved for a great cause, visit the event’s web site.  Sponsorships are available.

Friday, October 21, 2016, 8 a.m. shotgun start

Orange County National Golf Course

16301 Phil Ritson Way, Winter Garden, FL 34787

The organizations, both Frontline Outreach and EMCOR Services MSI, are hoping to fill both courses this year.  Golfers will enjoy refreshments and camaraderie for a great cause. 

For more information, visit the event’s web site.  

Community involvement that actually involves the community.

Partnerships continue to elevate and provide momentum for the Communities of West Lakes.

When we say we are ‘accelerating community transformation’ we mean we’ve developed a holistic, evidence-based plan to build a sustainable future with one of Orlando’s most distressed communities and its residents.  And in this case, holistic means our strategy involves residents in every step of our process, because it is the right thing to do.

One of LIFT Orlando’s signature engagement programs, MVP Families, was created in partnership with the residents of West Lakes and Florida Citrus Sports, and includes families with children under the age of 18.  The program includes the existing summer camp program at Florida Citrus Sports for middle school-aged children, in addition to an annual calendar of 12 events for the entire family.  These events include Family Fun Days and MVP Family Meetings, all designed to encourage family interaction and support.  What’s unique about this program is that it was designed by parents over the course of four planning meetings.  Their input determined the calendar, the meeting style, the objectives and goals of the program.

In early September, the MVP Families program officially kicked off with an event that welcomed 35 families (over 95 local residents).  Volunteers from the community prepared the meal, and some of the parents that have been involved from the very beginning took on various volunteer roles.  The families ate together and then broke into small groups to learn more about the Developmental Relationships Framework (material from the Search Institute).  Age appropriate childcare was provided and children were engaged by local teachers and after-school program providers with games and activities.

The goal for MVP Families is that these families will be supported by one another as well as the broader community to reach their goals.  Each family will establish personal goals in areas including academic achievement, financial stability and health and wellness.  More than anything, MVP Families is a place of community, where families can go to learn and share with one another and continue to build a stronger family bond and ensure a bright future for their children.

The Polis Institute continues to engage residents and recruit for the program, which has a goal of 100 families by the end of its first year.  The first meeting generated positive feedback and was a phenomenal kick off to the program.  It was a tremendous launch for a program that will grow and benefit more families, providing the resources needed to make their dreams a reality.  

We’re excited to share the photos below from our first event.  A special thank you goes out to our funding partners Florida Blue, PNC and Walt Disney World.  Thank you!



Lift Orlando Seeks subcontractors for West Lakes VILLAGE

Media Contact
Colleen Johnson
Vice President of Corporate Communications
CNL Financial Group

Lift Orlando Seeks subcontractors for West Lakes VILLAGE

-- Revitalization project will develop mixed-income housing near downtown --

(Orlando, Fla.) June 2, 2016 – Representatives of LIFT Orlando, the City of Orlando, Columbia Residential and Winter Park Construction will hold an informational meeting for subcontractors interested in the West Lakes Village project on June 6, 2016. The event, being held at the Holden Heights Community Center, is being hosted by Samuel B. Ings, the Orlando city council commissioner for District 6.

Registration for the contractor outreach event begins at 7:30 a.m., with the program scheduled to begin at 8:00 a.m. Minority-owned, women-owned and businesses that fall under Section 3 requirements of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are needed for this project and strongly encouraged to attend.

The West Lakes Village project is comprised of approximately 15 acres along Orange Center Boulevard in Washington Square, near downtown. The revitalization project calls for 200 mixed-income multifamily units and 120 seniors housing units, with the development to be completed in two phases.

The Holden Heights Community Center is located at 1201 20th St., Orlando. To register for the event, contact Leslie Mercado via email at

About LIFT Orlando

Founded in 2012, LIFT Orlando is a nonprofit organization founded by business leaders in Orlando, Florida, to partner with residents and break the cycle of poverty through holistic neighborhood revitalization focused around mixed-income housing, cradle-to-career education, community health and wellness, and long-term economic viability. For more information, visit



LIFT Orlando listed in Florida Economic Forecast

The Orlando Citrus Bowl and LIFT Orlando were mentioned in the 2015-2018 Florida & Metro Forecast by the Institute of Economic Competitiveness in the College of Business Administration at the University of Central Florida. Because of the redevelopment of Orange Center Boulevard and the construction of the Villages of West Lakes, LIFT Orlando was listed among the five other game changing developments of last year. The mention on page number 66 reads as follows:

"Citrus Bowl area to get new Lift Orlando apartments

After buying two foreclosed apartment complexes located near the Citrus Bowl from the city, Lift Orlando Community Land LLC plans to redevelop them into a multifamily apartment community and senior-living apartments. The project called The Villages at West Lake will take place in two phases, with the first phase consisting of 200 apartments, while phase two entails 120 senior-living apartments."

To download and read the entire report CLICK HERE

LIFT Orlando Demolition Kickoff - Thank You

We are so grateful for all those who participated in last week's Demolition Kickoff event. 

This event is meaningful because it is the first public evidence of the transformation that is to come to the Communities of West Lakes. The residents on the West Lakes Council representing the neighborhoods near the Citrus Bowl surrounding Rock Lake, Lake Lorna Doone, Lake Sunset and Clear Lake have provided tremendous leadership to a process of partnership that has given us the strength and confidence to make it this far in a spirit of collaboration. 

There is still so much work ahead and as we stop to celebrate a major milestone and thank the long list of partners that have brought us this far, we also endeavor to continue to earn the trust of those whose futures are directly impacted by these holistic investments in neighborhood transformation. 

Click here to view the video and picture gallery of the event.

Onward and Upward! 

A Day at the FCS Summer Camp

A Day at the FCS Summer Camp

For the past 20 years, students from the Orlando area have gathered at the Citrus Bowl for summer camp. In that time, thousands of students have come through to swim, golf and learn essential skills that will carry them through life. The Florida Citrus Sports Foundation highlights the middle-schoolers as MVPs and works with the community to teach the students athletics, academics, attitude and achievement.

We popped in to see what the camp was up to this year. With a voice recorder and a camera, we captured a glimpse of a day in the life of a student attending Florida Citrus Sports. Here’s a candid look at what the Florida Citrus Sports Foundation MVPs were up to.