More than $30K Spent to Help Fire Victims
Published on: Dec 29, 2016
This release is on behalf of the Community Hope Center and numerous other charitable and/or non-profit agencies involved in the UNNO situation.
Osceola County, Florida – Following a suspicious fire at the UNNO Boutique Hotel in Osceola County last Friday morning, Osceola County residents and aid-providing agencies rushed to help the more than 200 victims, some whom lost all of their belongings.
The success of those efforts has been amazing – both in the scope of the response and the outcome for those residents, who had few options the morning of the fire – just two days before Christmas.
The agencies involved report that more than $30,000 has been expended at this time to help cover food, lodging and transportation for the victims. Of the support reported, $23,000 was used to help temporarily house families in five hotels across Osceola County – even though only $18,000 in financial donations have been raised so far through the Osceola REDI program. Ongoing donations are expected to cover the difference.
Other support included vouchers for needed items or distribution of donated gift cards.
Osceola County elected officials and staff; the Community Hope Center; City of Kissimmee; Osceola County Council on Aging; American Red Cross; Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority/LYNX; Osceola County Sheriff’s Office; the School District of Osceola County; The Transition House – and many others – all have helped these families by taking care of their immediate needs as quickly as possible.
The Community Hope Center and the American Red Cross performed assessments on 58 families that total 205 people and report that the families’ immediate needs have been met. Those who requested more assistance have follow-up appointments scheduled with case managers at the Community Hope Center or the Council on Aging to assist with their future needs after receiving temporary housing through the New Year.
Lodging donations from Walt Disney World, Westgate Resorts, Home Suite Homes Eastgate, HOME (who were offered one family bridge housing) also aided in this effort.
Community donations also were a major help. Hotel residents had the opportunity to choose as many donated items as they needed, which again helped address the immediate needs of those living at the hotel.
Goodwill Industries of Central Florida also donated more than $2,000 in vouchers distributed to the families, which can be used for any additional items that the residents may still need. Goodwill will remain actively engaged and is committing additional vouchers for any follow-up needs the families may have in conjunction with their case management.
School uniforms also will be available to those needing them when school resumes next Wednesday, officials said.
It is the goal of all agencies involved to get these families on the path to self-sufficiency, and to provide quality care and case management along the way.
“It is our goal as an agency to always put the client first,” said Mary Downey, Executive Director of the Community Hope Center. “My team, along with many other volunteers worked over the holiday break identifying hotel rooms, processing donations, and trying to set into motion case management for long term-care. The response from the community has been overwhelming and we absolutely could not have helped as many families at the level of service we were able to provide without them. All the donated funds, the gift cards, all of it has been used to help and we are so grateful. I know they are, too.”
Fund-raising efforts continue through Osceola REDI. While there is no need for further donations of clothing and similar items, gift cards are still being accepted through the Community Hope Center and the Council on Aging.
“We have used all of our resources to get the families through this difficult time to ensure that their basic needs have been met. We are now working toward helping these families achieve self-sufficiency in the New Year,” said Downey.