If you’re like me and you live in Orlando you probably spent your weekend like this: Wake up on Saturday, check phone and read news about senseless and barbaric tragedy in Orlando. Go to sleep. Repeat again on Sunday.
On an ongoing text thread, my friends and I exchanged information, trying to piece together the weekend’s events. We scanned articles, eyes glued to press conferences and live streams.
I felt empowered yesterday, after seeing hundreds of people standing under the scorching Florida sun, waiting to be able to donate blood. It spoke volumes of what our community will do for one another. I posted about it on Facebook and said that we would not be known and defined as “the city with the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.”
And then Monday rolled around. Edward Sotomayor. Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan. Amanda Alvear. The names and stories of the victims are released and what felt like a faraway nightmare yesterday becomes a sobering acceptance of our new norm. People targeted for simply living their lives. Since everyone in Central Florida is connected, my newsfeed was full of grief.
Like a lot of you, I barely slept last night. Writing a blog about what I did over the weekend felt pointless. Everything about this weekend kept me up all night and made me want to stay in bed all day. An eerie silence concluded our Monday morning staff meeting and the usual “how was your weekend?” chatter was lost on everyone.
I recalled my visit to Disney Springs on Christmas, when patrons mistook a fist-fight and shattering noises for shots fired and we all ran for safety. After finding out it wasn’t that serious, I remember thinking, “something like that would never happen in Orlando.” I was wrong.
Feeling hopeless and not concentrating on my tasks, I continued scrolling Facebook and ran across a video of my pastor, praying over the families affected by this tragedy and it moved me to tears. Seeing images and rallies of solidarity around the globe gave me hope. It is not just our community coming together, but the world. People from all walks of life saying, “we are here for you, City Beautiful.”
Thank you to the journalists and the first responders who worked all weekend, keeping us informed and safe. I’ll be at the vigil in Downtown Orlando tonight, showing support for my beautiful city. Hopefully I’ll see you there, but if you can’t attend, there are other ways to help:
- Although blood banks were at capacity yesterday, donors are being urged to return throughout the week by scheduling an appointment. You can find out more here. OneBlood had put out a call for the donations and still need types O negative, O positive and AB plasma.
Ways to help:
- Many of the victims were of Hispanic descent and their families will be flying in from all over. If you’d like to translate for families and assist on the help lines, email your info to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- You can drop off snacks and water at the blood banks and bloodmobiles
- You can support the victims of the shooting by donating on this GoFundMe page.
- Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced the formation of the OneOrlando Fund, the purpose of which is to raise and receive money to help those families most affected by the tragic events that unfolded. Donate here.
- Donate to the numerous LGBT organizations that have been providing support and counseling like the Zebra Coalition and The Center Orlando
- If you know of a victim’s pet that needs care, please contact the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando
- This weekend, Love Orlando stickers will be available to purchase at Market On South with 100% profits donated to our local LGBT community (The Center, Zebra Coalition). They are $5 and you can pre-order them here.
- Through June 24, all proceeds from the Rifle Paper Co. Orlando art print (pictured below) will directly benefit the victims and families of the tragedy.
- Local printing company Mama’s Sauce created an Orlando print that will benefit The Center Orlando. You can check out the print here.
- Pray, hug everyone, listen, attend vigils, be present
Together we are better than alone #loveislove