The owner of the Pulse nighclub in Orlando, where 49 people including one staff member were fatally shot in the largest mass shooting in United States history, has created a fundraising site for donations to help employees “with the after-effects of this terrible event,” she said in a statement.
“We have only begun the grieving process, and we need to heal,” she said in her statement. “Part of that process includes trying to continue to manage our daily lives and we hope this fund helps us help our staff who are traumatized.”
Offers of assistance “from money and counseling to artwork, poetry and even music” have poured in, Poma said. But there is a need to assist the club’s employees “with their daily needs while they are out of work and healing,” she said.
“Our community and our family was changed forever on June 12, 2016,” she said. “We grieve with the victims and their families.”
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Among those victims was Kimberly Morris, 37, a recently hired bouncer at the club who formerly played small forward on the Post University basketball team in Connecticut, her friend Narvell Benning told PEOPLE. “She was tough and played hard on the basketball court, but off the court she was all smiles,” said Benning of her friend, also known as KJ or “Daddy K,” according to a GoFundMe page set up for donations toward Morris’ funeral and other expenses.
“So many people have called asking to donate and help our employees,” Poma said in her statement announcing the fundraising site. “The Pulse Employee Recovery Fund will serve as the official site for Pulse employees. I want the public to feel secure about where their contributions will go.” Donations will be accepted through a secure PayPal system.
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A separate OneOrlando Fund was created by the City of Orando, to collect donations that will be dispersed through the Central Florida Foundation, which is home to more than 400 charitable funds. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer says the fund will specifically be used to support nonprofits assisting the victims and their families; “LGBTQ, Hispanic, faith and other affected communities;” addressing the underlying causes of the shooting and providing for other needs “we cannot anticipate until we face them.”
Poma told Today the Pulse nightclub “was supposed to be a safe place.”
In a prior a statement on the club’s website, she wrote: “From the beginning, Pulse has served as a place of love and acceptance for the LGBTQ community. I want to express my profound sadness and condolences to all who have lost loved ones.”