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Family Assistance Center

Red Cross Orlando Family Assistance Center
“What’s happening is with love and support of the country and world”

In conjunction with the City of Orlando and the FBI Office of Victims Assistance, we’re offering an inclusive, confidential and safe environment for people affected by The Pulse Club shooting in Orlando, Florida. No matter if people were physically or mentally harmed they have suffered mental trauma during this horrific event. This is the one place they can come in private or as a family or chosen family.

With the loss of 49 of our neighbors, the community, and especially the Latino and LBGT community, was in shock. For some families of those slain, this is how they discovered their sons or daughter, brothers or sisters and family members were gay or lesbian. In parts of the Latino community, this can be an unspoken topic. Combined with issues regarding immigration status, families were torn whether they go to the Family Assistance Center (FAC) for fear of being arrested, harassed, separated from their families or even deported.

To ease fears, each family was paired with Victim Specialist or “companions” from Florida’s Crisis Response Team and the FBI’s Office of Victim Assistants with support from the member of the FBI’s LGBT task force. The ‘companions’ served as a ‘community advocate’ who would first listen to their story with a keen ear to identify what they believed their needs were. With this knowledge, one family of four brothers walked over to the first partner agency with a goal to return their slain brothers’ body to Mexico.

The Red Cross is a convener and collaborator with 37 participating agencies. This included air travel, child and family services, consulates, counseling, spiritual care, funeral services, crime victim services, health care, ground transportation, identification documents, translations, legal aid, lodging, medical examiner and senior services.

Amy Decker, a licensed mental health professional and Red Cross worker, traveled from Jacksonville to support the community. This is her second mass casualty incident having responded when the ship El Faro sunk off the coast of Florida and all lives were lost. She works in the FAC using all her professional skills in this delicate setting.

“What’s happening is with love and support of the country and world” Amy shares. “We dig a little deeper into each situation. “It’s as if we peeled back the layers of complexity.” After four hours, and utilizing 27 agencies this family will have closure. All four brothers will be able to accompany their brother’s remains back to Mexico so their parents could plan a proper burial. This could only happen due to the partnership of airlines with pro-bono flights and immigration officials for reentrance back into the country and legal aid. For their family, they had been huddled together scared in a small home; they are now empowered with knowledge, provided hotel rooms, food assistance, a shoulder to lean on and so much more.

“The brothers left in peace.” She shared.