Mass shooting at Pulse Orlando: LGBT community resources and how to help

By : Jamie Hyman
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In the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, a gunman entered Pulse nightclub in Orlando and opened fire, killing 49 people and injuring at least 53 more. The FBI is investigating and information is slowly being released.

In the meantime, here are ways to help and resources for those affected.

There are significant need for gift cards for a variety of services:

  • Groceries (Publix, Walmart etc.)
  • Gas (Wawa etc.)
  • Visa gift cards (ideal option because they can be used for anything)
  • Florida Sun Pass

Please drop them off at the following locations:

  • Hispanic Family Counseling Center – 6900 S. Orange Blossom Trail
  • The Center – 946 N Mills Ave
  • The Zebra Coalition- 911 N Mills Ave

Any digital gift card donations are welcome via:

Impulse Group Orlando is a non-profit HIV awareness organization that has volunteered their time to manage this.

Anyone with any information at all about the shooting or the shooter are asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI. Police stated they would like to speak to people who were at Pulse but left before the shooting began.

OneBlood is now asking that people call 1.888.9.DONATE (1.888.936.6283) to make a donation appointment over the next several days. They had “tremendous” response to their initial call for blood donations and are at capacity, but say the supply will need to be replenished in the coming days. Appointments can also be made online.

The Orange County Bar Association is coordinating pro bono efforts to assist victims of the Pulse tragedy, as well as their families. OCBA will be handling phone intake and referrals for victim legal inquiries, in coordination with the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association and other legal aid organizations, law firms, Florida Bar sections and divisions, and many other affiliate bar organizations.

OCBA has established a Victims’ Legal Assistance Hotline to help victims and their families obtain direct access to pro bono legal services. The hotline number is 407-422-4537 (se habla Español). Volunteer attorneys whose practice areas coincide with requests for legal support will be contacted.

Attorneys who would like to volunteer pro bono legal services may download the application here or visit the OCBA website homepage at  Attorneys need not be a member of the OCBA to serve on the pro bono panel.

JetBlue is providing free flights for families of those affected.  Call 1-800-JETBLUE and ask for the “Care Team.”

For the families affected by the shooting, Christian West-Howard, Realtor is offering free housing in either hotels or rental homes. The company will take care of all arrangements. Contact them by either messaging Christian West Howard on Facebook or emailing with the number of people coming, number of days needed, number of rooms needed, and victim’s name and relation.


  • The Center, located at 507 E. Michigan Ave., is the longer-term place for friends and family of Pulse shooting victims, plus anyone in the community affected by the tragedy, to receive services. It replaces the temporary City of Orlando Family Assistance Center that has been operating out of Camping World Stadium. The new Center is open from 3 – 8 p.m. June 23, 3 – 8 p.m. June 25 and then regular hours begin June 27, when it will be open 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • For 25 years the Orlando Youth Alliance has been offering support groups to LGBTQ youth ages 13-24.  They have weekly groups in Orlando, Casselberry and Lakeland.  The groups currently are being led by LMHC counselors experienced in grief and trauma counseling to help those dealing with survivor guilt or having a difficult time coming to grips with the Pulse tragedy. Many vetted mental health professionals are listed on the OYA website should you need personal counseling.  OYA groups are facilitated by criminally background checked adults and currently have security or police presence.
    Orlando Youth Alliance meetings are on Tuesdays, 6:15 PM at Reeves United Methodist Church, 1100 N. Fern Creek Ave, Orlando.
    Lakeland Youth Alliance meetings are on Wednesdays, 6:15 PM at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 145 Edgewood Drive, Lakeland.
    Seminole Youth Alliance meetings are on Thursdays, 6:15 PM at the Casselberry Library on Oxford Street.

  • The Center is partnering with Hope and Help, Two Spirit Health Services, Zebra Coalition, Rollins College, Equality Florida, MBA Orlando, HRC, and various other GLBT organizations throughout Central Florida to provide an emergency hotline and crisis counseling.
    Crisis counseling will be available in both English and Spanish and will take place Monday through Wednesday at The First Unitarian Church of Orlando located at 1901 E. Robinson Street and will be available from 10am and 7pm.
    For those who are unable to get to the crisis counseling site, an emergency hotline has been set up to offer counseling services in both English and Spanish. The crisis numbers are: (407) 822-5036 (Press 1), and (407) 228-1446.
  • Cigna and United Healthcare are expanding access to their 24×7 telephone help lines to provide personal assistance and support for anyone affected by the tragic shooting in Orlando. People who do not have health benefits or employee assistance program benefits with Cigna can call a special toll-free number – 866-912-1687 – 24 hours a day through July 8. United is offering Optum’s Help Line. The toll-free number is 866-342-6892 and will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for as long as necessary.
  • Sovereign Health is providing an Orlando Hotline to provide support to survivors, victims’ families and loved ones, and to residents of the Orlando area who may be struggling with the repercussions of the Pulse shooting. The hotline, open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. EST, offers guidance to callers and is a source of information and referrals to a broad range of behavioral health treatment providers and other support services.  Hotline operators are standing by to receive calls at: 888-376-3032.
  • James Barrow, DOM, AP, owner of Balancing Point Wellness is offering free acupuncture treatments to everyone in Pulse at the time of the shootings, the victims and their families. Balancing Point Wellness is located at 1505 E. Michigan St., Orlando, FL 32806. Their phone number is 407-243-2446.

Do not go to hospitals to donate blood – make an appointment at a local blood bank. Additionally, hospital officials have announced they cannot accept flowers or gifts at this time, due to the nature of the attack.

Local LGBT community agencies have set up a Go Fund Me to benefit the families of victims. The Center’s board of directors will work with attorneys and experts to ensure funds are distributed correctly.

The Center is accepting donations of water and dry goods to give to the blood donation centers and various counseling sites. Donations are currently being accepted at The Center’s office at 946 N. Mills Ave., Orlando, FL 32803.

Many different floral services are offering free arrangements for the funerals of the victims.

In Bloom Florist: 407-649-7771

Michelle Morgan: 321-230-5373.

Morgan Elliss: 352-394-2728

Forest Lake Seventh-Day Adventist Church will be hosting free funeral services for any victims and live-streaming online for family that cannot make it in person. Call 407-869-0680.


The owners of Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming of Apopka are donating dog food and treats to benefit the pets of Pulse victims. They also will be accepting donated food and pet supplies at their store. The business will begin delivering these items on June 17 to the Venue.


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