Building Philanthropy for a Better Florida

Pulse survivor research tracks healing progress

February 09, 2020

An assistance center set up to help survivors and victims’ families from the 2016 mass murder at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub is opening a new level of research to find out how that tragic community is coping and what they still need, more than three years later.

The Orlando United Assistance Center, established in the aftermath of the Pulse tragedy, announced Friday it is hoping to reach out to those who survived, immediate family members of those who were slain, and the first responders who were there the morning of June 12, 2016, when an armed madman killed 49 and wounded 53 others at the popular gay nightclub.

Led by Ray Larsen, vice president for collective impact at the Heart of Florida United Way, Erica Fissel, an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Central Florida, and Zachary Murray, an organizational psychologist who had worked for the LGBT Center of Orlando, the center hopes to survey hundreds of people directly affected in the Pulse massacre.

There is a practical need for the research at the OUAC, which has received federal grants and may be in line for some proposed state funding this year. The Center has been the go-to place for Pulse survivors and families seeking help. It started as a crisis support center and its services have evolved over the past three and a half years to provide case management, navigation of community resources, individualized referrals for mental health and counseling services and coordination with other community resources, including financial assistance.

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