HF Letter from the President: Somos Orlando
Our hearts are broken. Last week’s massacre at the Pulse Night Club killed 49 and injured more than 50. It was one of the worst massacres in our nation’s history and it struck at the heart of our community. It was an attack fueled by hate. And its victims—young, LGBTQ, Latino, and immigrant— were people doing nothing so remarkable as enjoying a night of dancing with friends and loved ones. The death and injury caused by a heavily-armed and violent individual will reverberate throughout Orlando’s LGBT and Latino communities, and indeed our nation, for many years. We mourn the dead and extend our pésame, apoyo y solidaridad to those they left behind. They are not alone and will not be forgotten.
Shortly after the news of the attack on Pulse spread, we began to respond. Within 24 hours the Hispanic Federation (HF), under the leadership of HF’s Florida State Director Zoe Colon, brought together a coalition of 30 local Latino and LGBTQ community leaders and organizations under the umbrella of “Somos Orlando.”
We held a press conference with Latino community leaders to ensure that national and local narratives highlighted the staggering impact this tragedy was having on the Orlando Hispanic/LGBTQ community. And we began to plan on how best we could support those most affected by this tragedy.
Faced with overwhelming needs, and well aware of the dearth of culturally and linguistically appropriate social services available in Central Florida, we have launched a comprehensive multi-service site with the title Proyecto Somos Orlando (Project We Are Orlando, or Proyecto). Our Orlando, Florida office has been the home of the Somos Orlando campaign, a coalition of the many Latino community-based organizations in the area who will be working to help the families of the dead and provide support to the injured.
We have great confidence that in the face of brutality and callousness, our community will rally together and respond with great resolve and determination. Of course, we are in need of resources and support from our partners and allies. If you can help in any way, please visit our site SomosOrlando.org, or contact our Director of Florida and Southeast Operations Zoe Colon and VP for Programs Jaslyn Jimenez. Thank you for your support and solidarity.