Today the rainbow flag has lost its color. And one more time, people everywhere have lost a little bit more of our feeling of safety and freedom. All of us mourn the senseless loss of life in Orlando on Sunday morning. Words cannot really express our sorrow, but the words of Junior League of Greater Orlando President, Anna McPherson, to her League members are eloquent. She wrote:
June 12, 2016
Special Message Concerning Orlando Mass Shooting
Living in South Orlando, my family was awakened early this morning by the din of helicopters. As news trickled out from 6 a.m. onward, I watched horrified as the casualty count increased and the details of the situation grew more disturbing and horrific. The number of helicopters over my house seems to grow.
As Central Floridians, this has happened in our own backyard. We are all directly affected by this horrific incident. We wait terrified to see the victim list, not knowing if it includes family members, coworkers, neighbors or friends. My deepest condolences go out to the families of the victims.
As a League, we will be proactively seeking opportunities for us to assist in the recovery efforts for our community. Currently, we are all absorbing the news and beginning the process to reach out and offer our help as volunteers.
In tragedy, we often observe the worst and best of humanity. My hope is that as we reach out to our friends, neighbors and others who may need our help, we are able to rediscover our sense of community and togetherness. No matter your belief system, I think we can all unite behind the spirit of #prayfororlando.
Junior League of Greater Orlando: Response to our Community Tragedy
Update on Our Efforts
As we all react and process the tragedy and terror of acts committed early Sunday morning, the JLGO has been in contact with the Orlando community. As a result of these preliminary conversations, there will be a variety of efforts from short term to long term that the JLGO can be involved with as our community moves forward. We will provide Done In a Day (DIADs) for our members which are coming soon on our DIAD calendar web site. Please note all members are welcome to participate in DIADs, Sustainers included.
Nonprofits we’re actively coordinating with:
Association of Junior Leagues International: We will work with AJLI on coordination of support from Junior Leagues across the Association; we will also work with AJLI to integrate any community discussions on this Orlando event into future trainings at the international level.
Rollins-Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership: The JLGO has been added to the identified group of nonprofits in our community who will be participating in ongoing volunteer efforts. The Rollins-Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership will be heading up coordination efforts. Our League has been a long-time member of the institute.
Zebra Coalition for Youth: The Zebra Coalition for Youth, is a nonprofit serving the youth LGBT community in Orlando. The Orlando LGBT community is rallying all of their nonprofits later this week to better understand the unique needs for the people they serve and assess and coordinate effective volunteer opportunities. JLGO has been added to the collected list of organizations wanting to support Orlando’s LGBT community so that we can provide volunteer assistance as necessary.
Fundraising Efforts in our Community:
The Central Florida Foundation has been working with community leaders all day Sunday to create a “one fund” strategy that will provide a place for everyone to contribute to the community’s recovery. The JLGO keeps our endowment fund at the Central Florida Foundation. We will be sure to publish detailed information to members on the fund as soon as it becomes available.
City of Orlando Officials We’ve Contacted:
We’ve offered additional support to the City of Orlando by contacting City Commissioner Robert Stuart and Officer Kevlon Kirkpatrick offering our support as volunteers for upcoming City efforts. We’ve also signed the League up to provide support as opportunities become available via theCity of Orlando Volunteer Online. You can sign up as an individual by clicking here.
Our Own JLGO Members:
All of us want to do anything we can to help – from providing professional services to home cooked meals. We’ve spoken with many JLGO members to find out how we might volunteer to support the City of Orlando, the local LGBT community, the Orlando Police Department, Orlando Health, Florida Hospital, the Orange County Department of Health and other medical providers, Heart of Florida United Way, Second Harvest Food Bank, OneBlood Blood Bank, and the Orlando Chamber of Commerce.
In addition, our Neighborhood Relations Committee, which includes JLGO members on the Boards of the Ivanhoe Village and the College Park Partnership are reaching out to those organizations to understand their efforts and where the JLGO can assist.
We are all bracing for the worst as the names of the victims continue to be released and we realize the loss of loved ones in our community. The names of victims are being added to cityoforlando.net/victims.
Based on conversations we’ve had today, we can expect that over the next week and a half, there will be a more coordinated approach to volunteer opportunities as the various interest areas as our community assess their needs.
We will continue to keep members of the JLGO informed via a specific page on our website.
We will also routinely update our JLGO Facebook page.
If you all have other thoughts in mind concerning our League’s reach-out efforts, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Showing Some Love
As we continue to focus on those who need our help, we witness small acts of kindness all around us. Our own League member, Laura Hooks, was featured on NPR yesterday.
Laura lives one block from the Beardall Center, where families of victims are receiving information from various agencies and authorities on everything from investigation details to funeral arrangements. Laura and her friend Jackie were moved, as we all are, to offer comfort to these devastated family members and took it upon themselves to place flowers and kind notes on victim’s family cars which are parked all around the Center and even spill over into the grassy park area nearby. Laura shared with me that a man approached her and asked her for two blossoms. When she gave the two flowers to him, he just broke down sobbing and said he lost two people. She responded simply with an embrace.
Laura’s actions are beautiful and touching. It reminds us all of the humanity of this situation. It also is a common story – this type of reaching out, kindness and love is modeled by League members and the citizens of Orlando over and over. It may seem like a small gesture to simply reach out to someone in kindness and compassion, but adding up these gestures together make a big impact on us all.
As we conclude the first 72 hours since tragedy overtook our dear “City Beautiful”, we also conclude our 9 a.m. daily JLGO email updates. We will chronicle our efforts in the Weekly Friday E-Blast. Please stay tuned to our web site and social media outlets for the very latest information from the JLGO.
The Junior League of Greater Orlando stands proudly with our community. We will all rise to the challenge as we help Orlando recover. #orlandounited
We’ve weathered the first six days of an incredible amount of emotion that we will continue to absorb and process for the days, weeks and months ahead. I am proud to be a citizen of Orlando and a member of the Junior League every day, but especially this week. From Mexico City to the Emerald Coast, Lakeland to New York, I’ve received messages of support and solidarity with our city and our League from Junior Leagues across multiple states and countries. The home page graphic of the Association of Junior Leagues International’s reflects a beautiful show of support for Orlando.
Our League members in Orlando have reached out and helped one another. Whether you’ve donated stuffed animals or hugged your grieving neighbor; visited the memorial or attended a vigil; directly cared for victims and families or connected us all to volunteer opportunities, our collective efforts have brought us together and showed the strength of our community.
We all know this recovery effort doesn’t end today, tomorrow or even next week. We know we have a lot to learn and a lot to give back as we move forward with our community. As Junior Leaguers, I know we are up to that challenge. Please take a few minutes of time and review the updates in this email carefully. We have included important information for our members concerning efforts around Help Orlando Recover, a Real Estate update, Leadership opportunities within AJLI, Sustainer involvement information and Provisional Class Recruitment details. We will continue our work as women building better communities, one day at a time.