TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – During today’s meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman awarded three organizations with the Champion of Service Award for their support following the Orlando terrorist attack at Pulse nightclub in June. The Champion of Service Award is Florida’s official statewide volunteer recognition for individuals and organizations.
Governor Scott said, “It is an honor to recognize these organizations for their service following the Orlando terrorist attack. Each of these groups have worked tirelessly to support the Orlando community in the aftermath of the terror attack. I was in Orlando for nearly two weeks following the attack and had the opportunity to meet with many volunteers and service organizations to see firsthand how dedicated they were to helping those in need. We are grateful for their efforts and extend our gratitude to the organizations, staff, and the many volunteers who serve alongside them.”
Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman said, “Catholic Charities of Florida, the American Red Cross, and Hands On Orlando have engaged volunteers in many different ways to support the Orlando community, from serving at the Family Assistance Center to supporting first responders. All three organizations have worked incredibly hard to serve the individuals and families who were impacted by the Orlando terror attack and we are grateful for their service.”
Champion of Service: American Red Cross – The American Red Cross (ARC) has played a significant role in response and recovery following the Orlando terrorist attack. ARC mobilized 231 volunteers following the terror attack. ARC staffed the City’s Emergency Assistance Call Center, processing more than 6,800 calls from families looking for loved ones, those requesting assistance, and individuals offering assistance. ARC provided mental health and spiritual care to over 3,000 individuals at the Orlando Family Reception Center, Orlando Family Assistance Center, Orlando United Assistance Center, and community memorial sites and vigils. ARC provided financial assistance to 95 families of the injured or deceased to meet their immediate financial needs, such as food or transportation. ARC continues to provide guidance to local officials on the operation of the Family Assistance Center, Orlando United Assistance Center and overall community recovery strategies. ARC is also providing donations management expertise to the funds that have been established to provide financial relief to survivors and loved ones.
Champion of Service: Catholic Charities of Florida, Inc. – Catholic Charities of Florida and local Catholic Charity organizations were among the first voluntary relief agencies to respond to the Orlando terror attack. Catholic Charities of Florida has worked closely with the Hispanic community in Central Florida, providing 55 families with support in the days and weeks following the terror attack. Catholic Charities of Florida mobilized bilingual case workers to provide case management, financial assistance, and grief counselors to those who were impacted. Catholic Charities is also conducting an ongoing grief and crisis support group in Orlando. Catholic Charities of Florida has mobilized volunteers following the terror attack and will continue to provide services to victims and family members through the recovery process.
Champion of Service: Hands On Orlando – Following the Orlando terror attack, Hands On Orlando deployed volunteers to serve in a number of capacities: they answered calls at the 2-1-1 call center, helped individuals who were not injured recover personal items from the site, and guided family members through resource options available through the Orlando Family Assistance Center. Hands On Orlando continues to help the community recover by launching a “49 for 49” Service Project Initiative. “49 for 49” connects volunteers with non-profits so that they can perform a service project to honor each of the 49 victims. Volunteers have already begun the service projects, which have benefitted organizations such as Harvest Time International, Greyhound Pets of Greater Orlando, The Salvation Army, and Orlando Health and Rehabilitation Center.