From June 20 to July 1, Catholic Charities of Central Florida operated a temporary assistance center at John Vianney Parish in Orlando, in partnership with the parish and VITAS Healthcare®, to provide case management and supportive services for victims and family members of the Pulse shooting in Orlando.
Local community members volunteered to help, including a certified trauma counselor who took a week off from work to help families begin to heal.
“The victims and family members have only just begun to grieve the loss of loved ones. They have been through so much. It is both humbling and motivating to work with them knowing they are placing their trust in us to help them through this difficult time. Our support, guidance and counseling allows them to focus on what’s most important – their physical and emotional healing,” said Heather Knoop, Family Stability Program Manager at Catholic Charities.
In addition, Catholic Charities helped to coordinate a six week grief and crisis support group located at St. John Vianney Parish for victims and families led by Deacon Felix Montanez. Montanez is a volunteer chaplain from St. Augustine Parish in Casselberry who works for VITAS offering support to families with loved ones in hospice care.
The support group, Montanez explained, is for victims and family members affected by the shooting massacre on June 12 and others as well. The support group was created to help anyone struggling with grief, especially those not legally recognized as a family member of the victims.
“There are many broken hearted boyfriends, roommates and friends of the victims who will continue to need our support beyond six weeks as they grieve the loss of their loved ones,” said Montanez, who plans to offer his support as long as it is needed.
He and his wife, Digna, a licensed clinical social worker, were part of the emergency support team from local parishes and Catholic Charities who ministered to victims and their family members at the Aid Center hours after the shooting took place.
“That first day was very difficult to witness as we worked with the medical staff to help inform family members and friends that their loved ones had not survived. But Jesus was present there in everyone who had gathered to offer support,” said Montanez.
The Lord’s presence continues to motivate Montanez and his wife in their ministry.
“When you give from your heart – the more you give, the more you receive from the Lord,” said Montanez.
Catholic Charities continues to provide supportive services to those impacted by the Pulse shooting at its main office located at 1819 N. Semoran Blvd., Orlando. Victims and family members are urged to call 386-341-3740 to request financial assistance. Bilingual case managers are available to assist.
Catholic Charities established a fund with $20,000 to help the victims and are also asking for donations to help meet the needs. Click the button below to make a donation:Make a Donation