Orlandoans Reach Out To LGBT Center | KERA News

Orlandoans Reach Out To LGBT Center

Jun 18, 2016
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

When tragedy hits a community, the instinct for many people is to find a way to help those who were hurt the most. NPR's Jeff Brady saw evidence of that this week at Orlando's LGBT Center.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Walk into the center, and you'll see a sign that warns bags may be searched. And then there's the security guard.

ROB DOMENICO: Having security at our door is something extremely new for us.

BRADY: Rob Domenico is a board member here.

DOMENICO: Our doors are typically wide-open, and we're welcoming anybody to walk in from all walks of life, religion, sex, creed - you name it. They're welcome in here to come in for whatever service they need from us.

BRADY: Those services include health screenings and addiction recovery meetings. On normal days, it's a busy place, but not this busy. After the mass shooting, Domenico says the center reached a new level of activity.

DOMENICO: No one knows how to address something like this. We had no contingency plan in place on the board of directors. We obviously never thought this would happen to our wonderful community.

BRADY: Once people heard about the shooting, they wanted to do something. Many brought cooked food to the center for volunteers who showed up. Others dropped off grocery items.

DOMENICO: We do not handle food needs like this. We don't have a food pantry. This is a makeshift food pantry because we are inundated with wonderful supplies and donations that are coming in throughout the community.

BRADY: In the backroom, stuff is stacked everywhere. Some of those volunteers are packing items into plastic bags for survivors and families.

DOMENICO: So what you're seeing here is a care package including water, snacks - looks like toiletries, gum, coloring books, things to keep their minds active throughout all this, beautiful notes, handwritten notes by our volunteers or local churches.

BRADY: Domenico says so far he's been in stoic mode. He's set emotions aside and has focused on his work at the LGBT Center. Taking care of himself and sorting out his feelings - that comes later. Jeff Brady, NPR News, Orlando. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.