ORLANDO – The Orlando United Assistance Center, designed to provide long-term assistance to people impacted by the Pulse shootings, opens today.
The center located at 507 E. Michigan St. will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s located at the corner of Osceola Avenue and East Michigan Street.
Created by the City of Orlando and the Orange County Government, the center is expected to hire numerous representatives from the Hispanic and LGBT communities to be on staff to help the survivors of the attack. To learn more, call 407-500-HOPE.
On Monday, the city of Orlando also announced that it had established a partnership with Heart of Florida United Way to manage the center. That will include managing all daily functions such as the oversight of the building and its staff.
Heart of Florida United Way will also be responsible for arranging a series of partnerships with various service providers who can help meet the needs of the people visiting the center. Those partnerships will include arrangements with the Victim Service Center, the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida and Miracle of Love, Inc.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said Heart of Florida was chosen because it has a vast network of partners in the nonprofit sector whose services could prove to be vital to individuals and families impacted by the shooting massacre on June 12 that claimed the lives of 49 people and injured 53 others.
“Heart of Florida United Way is uniquely qualified to manage the Orlando United Assistance Center,” Dyer said in a statement. “Through the center, we are focused on the long-term recovery needs of the survivors, victims’ families and all those who were impacted by the Pulse tragedy. By providing one-on-one support, we will continue to help those in need.”
Robert Brown, the president and CEO of Heart of Florida United Way, said the agency also has experience assisting communities struggling through long-term recovery efforts. One example is that the agency managed the long-term action plan following the devastating 2004 hurricane season, when three hurricanes struck the state in the summer.
“Our staff is specifically trained to help those in crisis,” he said. “By leveraging our expertise and resources, we’ll be able to provide options and solutions for victims and their families. Our network and community contacts will enable us to help as many people as possible while providing excellent customer service.”
Also on Monday, the Miami Marlins announced they had collected $15,000 in donations for the Florida Disaster Fund – money that will be used to support organizations helping survivors and family members of the Pulse attack.
David P. Samson, president of the Miami Marlins, said the team was “honored to come together with our fans to mourn the victims and offer our support to the survivors of the Orlando terror attack. We appreciate everyone who participated in raising these funds and hope that these donations will send a message of hope to the Orlando community to let them know that the Marlins stand with them during this incredibly difficult time.”
The Florida Disaster Fund was created by the State of Florida to assist communities as they try to recover from a disaster. The fund is a partnership between private and public organizations, and 100 percent of the funds raised go to people in need. To learn more, log on to www.FloridaDisasterFund.org.
The shooting massacre started around 2 a.m. on Sunday, June 12 at Pulse, a gay nightclub near downtown Orlando. A lone gunman, later identified as Omar Mateen, shot and killed 49 people before Mateen himself was shot and killed by Orlando Police.
Since then, the community has responded to the devastating tragedy by hosting a series of public vigils to bring people together and to remember the victims.
“As a community we’ve witnessed extraordinary acts of compassion and generosity,” said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. “We’re a community in which diversity is viewed as one of our fundamental strengths. In caring for those wounded or grieving from the Pulse tragedy, we are providing the world with an example to emulate, as well as demonstrating that we are the best community in which to live, work and raise a family.”
To set up an appointment to visit the Orlando United Assistance Center, call
407-500-HOPE (4673) or visit cityoforlando.net/hope.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..