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!