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OneOrlando Fund’s 1st Town Hall Shows PULSE Victims How to Receive Compensation



ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) OneOrlando Fund holds first town hall to discuss fund distribution for PULSE shooting victims and their families. Photo: Mellissa Thomas/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) — OneOrlando Fund Administrator Ken Feinberg gave a detailed overview of OneOrlando Fund’s draft protocol and asnwered audience questions about the compensation process during its first town hall at the Amway Center this afternoon for victims and families of those affected by the PULSE shooting.

Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins called meeting to order. OneOrlando Fund Administrator Ken Feinberg briefly explained that the OneOrlando Fund Board will not make any decisions today, but are here to listen to the needs of the public.

Feinberg’s public disaster experience includes the 9/11 Fund, BP Oil Spill, OneBoston Fund, and the tragic theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado.

National Center for Victims of Crime Executive Director Maria Cristina Fernandez (who spoke English and Spanish) reassured the audience that they are here to listen and hear “the things that are bothering you and the things that you want to hear.” She formally introduced Feinberg to the stage.

Feinberg prefaced his comments by saying he has done “too many of these funds. We would gladly not be here.” He promised that 100% of the OneOrlando Fund proceeds will be distributed to the families, and that there are “zero overhead costs.” “Money is a very poor substitute for loss…for what you have all suffered over the last few months.” He stated the OneOrlando Fund currently has about $23 million to be distributed so far. But he exhorted, “Do not believe that that money is adequate.”

The final protocol will be done in the next two weeks, and according to Feinberg, all funds should be distributed by the end of September. Families of the deceased, those physically injured (inlcuding those who were in the hospital), and those who were trapped in the club and managed to escape without injury are eligible. According to Feinberg, they cannot go beyond those parameters because the Fund Board wants to ensure the families get a “meaningful”. Distribution for the families has to be meaningful. He doesn’t know yet the allocation per eligible claimant. The final decision on that payout will be made in the next few weeks.

The most money goes to those with dead victims. Secondly, length of hospital time is the parameter for how much money is given to those who sustained physical injury (a month or more, three week, two weeks, or those admitted to the emergency room or had outpatient care and were sent home).

For proof of those trapped in the club, they will defer to the police who he claimed to have evidence of who was in the club that night.

Everyone who is eligible must file a claim at or or 855-484-2846. Claims will be collected starting after the finalized protocol in the middle of August.

The funds will be distributed electronically from OneOrlando Fund to the claimant’s bank. Checks will be hand-delivered by courier. None will be mailed. Only a person designated by the Orlando Probate Court to represent a lost loved one can make a claim, and has to consent to collect the payment. Unresolved money will be paid to the probate court and left to the family to make arrangements.

For those who have sustained physical injury and were hospitalized, attached to the claim form must be a letter from the hospital confirming the claimant’s duration, which will determine the claimant’s disbursement. Hostage victims will be verified against police reports.

Is the money received taxable? Feinberg recommends claimants check with their tax advisor or accountant to find out.

Alex Martins and the OneOrlando Fund Board have mandated a full independent audit and a public report of it to show exactly what funds went in and out.

“Every time we have to do one of these compensation programs, it is a horror. We don’t want to have to do these,” Feinberg said. “We serve without compensation…We are here to serve the community because we are asked to do so. And like most Americans, we step up when asked.”

The video of today’s town hall meeting is available on and, and people can start registering online now.

Anita Busch, a national victim activist who lost her cousin Micayla in the Aurora theater shooting, let the Orlando survivors know they are not alone. She and her two colleagues, shooting survivor Jennifer Longdon–who was left paralyzed–and Bob Weiss, who lost his daughter Veronika in the Santa Barbara mass shooting, came here to counsel anyone in the audience with questions or provide consolation.

“When a child loses a parent, they lose a big part of their past…but when a parent loses a child, they lose a big part of their future,” said Bob Weiss, who received nothing out of the fundraiser for the Santa Barbara massacre, despite the “couple million” that were raised. He hasn’t worked in a year because of his PTSD. He was able to apply for disability through the Social Security Administration, which disburses $25,000 per year to support his family.

“Welcome to our family that you never wanted to be a part of,” said Jennifer Longdon. “It grows by three hundred and twenty people every single day.” She recommended the Center for Independent Daily Living for those who have not been disabled by the PULSE shooting.

National Center’s Jeff Deon explained that Crime Victim Compensation is supplied by the Attorney General’s Office and that the OneOrlando Fund Board will work with the AG’s Office to remove its demand for remittance for those who receive compensation from the OneOrlando Fund.

The Orlando Victim Assistance Center will assist people with acquiring probate assistance (407-500-HOPE or Furthermore, during the town hall, the Orange County Probate Court announced that anyone requesting probate assistance for OneOrlando Fund distribution will be fast-tracked.


Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness Coming March 2023



WINTER PARK, Fla. (Florida National News) – Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness, inspired by the children’s TV host and icon, comes to Orlando in March 2023. This week-long series of events was announced today at the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation in Winter Park.

“Fred McFeely Rogers devoted his entire life to reminding us of some of the most important ideas of what it means to be human among humans: love, respect and kindness,” explained Buena Vista Events & Management President & CEO Rich Bradley. “Many of us find that nearly 20 years after Fred’s passing, it is important to focus on his teachings once again, perhaps now more than ever. This is a week to re-engage with his massive body of work with some folks, and to introduce his teachings to others.”

Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness begins March 20, 2023, the date which would have been Fred’s 95th birthday, and concludes on Saturday, March 26 with the Red Sweater Soiree, a community dinner to recognize ten ordinary members of the community who inspire and exemplify the affinity that Fred Rogers had for showing kindness to our “Neighbors”.

Mister Rogers Week of Kindness coming March 20-26, 2023. Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky (Florida National News)

Activities planned for the week will include early childhood education activities and faculty training, as well as events open to the public.

“The events will be offered free or at low cost,” continued Bradley. “This week-long celebration is not a series of fundraisers, but rather about once again remembering and sharing some of the great work that Fred Rogers created, not only in early childhood education, but in reminding us that we are all part of one big ‘neighborhood’. Fred taught us the importance of accepting our Neighbors just the way they are and engaging in kindness with our interactions. I can’t think of another period in my lifetime where we needed to reflect on those messages again more than today.”

“There are three ways to ultimate success,” Fred Rogers was once quoted as saying. “The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind. Imagine what our neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”

Many of the activities of Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness will be attended by members of the cast and crew of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 – 1975, and again from 1979 – 2001. David Newell, known as “Mr. McFeely,” the “Speedy Delivery” man, appeared at today’s media conference via video, and looks forward to visiting Central Florida next March.

David Newell, “Mr. McFeely.” Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky (Florida National News)

Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness is supported by the McFeely-Rogers Foundation, the Fred Rogers Institute, and Fred Rogers Productions. Details regarding the specific activities and venues will be released over the next few weeks.

For more information on the events, visit or

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A Quick Primer on the Team Solving Orange County’s Affordable Housing Crisis



Orange County’s Housing for All Task Force held its introductory meeting on April 12, 2019 at the Board of County Commissioner Chambers. Photo: Orange County Government.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – Orange County faces a growing affordable housing crisis, and Mayor Jerry Demings has taken notice–and action. Shortly after his inauguration, he formed Housing For All, an affordable housing task force to face the challenge head-on.

The Housing For All task force doesn’t meet monthly like the County Commission–in fact, their next meeting won’t be until October 4, 2019–but they do work when they’re not meeting. The task force is made up of three subcommittees, Design and Infrastructure Subcommittee, Accessibility and Opportunity Subcommittee and Innovation and Sustainability Subcommittee. These three subcommittees meet twice a month to come up with ideas and plans to fix the affordable housing problem.

Each subcommittee has a specific focus on ways to help solve the problem of affordable housing. The Design and Infrastructure Subcommittee is focused on the design of new affordable housing projects, the renovation of current affordable housing that might need fixing and land development for affordable housing units. The Accessibility and Opportunity Subcommittee is focused on making sure affordable housing is accessible to the major economic zones of the city, develop partnerships with groups and focus on outreach in the county. The Innovation and Sustainability Subcommittee is focused on finding ways to increase the supply of affordable housing and how to preserve affordable housing.

At their next meeting in October these subcommittees will update the county on what they have accomplished and what they plan to do in the future. For information from previous Housing for All Task Force meetings or the meeting schedule, visit the Orange County Government website.


Leyton Blackwell is a photojournalist and Florida National News contributor. |

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Opening Biopic ‘Te Ata’ Sets High Bar for 2016 Orlando Film Festival



ORLANDO: Chickasaw Nation Biopic 'Te Ata' Sets Stage for Orlando Film Festival.

ORLANDO (FNN NEWS) – Orlando Film Festival kicked off at Cobb Theaters in Downtown Orlando Wednesday night. The red carpet came alive with excited filmmakers and actors ready to showcase their projects to the Orlando community and, in some cases, to the world at large, including Nathan Frankowski, director of this year’s opening feature Te Ata.

About Te Ata

Frankowski’s biopic feature chronicles the true story of Chickasaw actress and storyteller Mary Frances Thompson, whose love of stories and the Chickasaw Nation fueled her to share the Chickasaw culture with new audiences in the early 1900s, a time when the United States was still growing as a nation and clashed with Native American peoples in the process.

Viewers are immediately swept into the saga from the film’s opening scene with a voice-over folk tale told by Mary Thompson’s father, T.B. Thompson (played by Gil Birmingham). Ironically, though his storytelling places the seed of inspiration in her, it slowly becomes a source of friction between them as she ages.

What makes the film engrossing is the sprawling backdrop upon which Thompson’s journey takes place. While young Te Ata (which means “The Morning”) flourishes with each solo performance and eventually sets her sights on Broadway, the Chickasaw Nation is fighting to secure the funding due them from the U.S. government in the face of ethnocentrism and religious bigotry–to the point that the government passed a law forbidding the sale of traditional Native American textiles and creations, which caused further financial struggle for the Chickasaw Nation. Viewers even experience the Thompsons’ fish-out-of-water feeling as the Chickasaw people’s territory, Tishomingo, shrinks significantly to become part of the newborn state of Oklahoma.

The political tensions are counterbalanced with Te Ata’s experience. Te Ata does her first performances among family, but chooses to leave home for the first time in her life to attend the Oklahoma College for Women (known today as University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma), despite her father’s wishes for her to find a job at home. Viewers immediately empathize with Te Ata’s awkward experience upon her arrival at the predominantly Caucasian-attended College, but cheer her on when that one connection is made, because all it ever takes is one.

Te Ata’s jumping off point occurs when she meets drama teacher Frances Dinsmore Davis, who encourages her to join her class and to share the Chickasaw stories for her senior presentation instead of the usual Shakespeare recitation. From there, Te Ata’s career blossoms from one serendipitous connection to another, taking her performances across the country. She eventually makes it to New York City, hustling to find her place on Broadway, and finds love in the process while performing privately for Eleanor Roosevelt, whose husband was then Governor of New York. The heroine’s journey continues with well-placed highs and lows, keeping the viewer visually and emotionally engaged.

Te Ata is touchingly channeled through lead actress Q’orianka Kilcher who, like Te Ata, has stage experience, and brought it to bear in the role. Kilcher’s magnetic singing, with the help of the film’s sweeping score and indigenous songs, imprints the true Te Ata’s passion for her people onto the viewer’s heart.

Frankowski, who worked closely with the Chickasaw Nation in creating the film, honors Te Ata’s memory and legacy in a cohesive, sweeping tale that will edify audiences everywhere.



Florida National News Editor Mellissa Thomas is an author and journalist, as well as a decorated U.S. Navy veteran with degrees in Entertainment Business and Film. She also helps business owners, CEOs, executives, and speakers double their income and clinch the credibility they deserve by walking them step by step through the process of developing, completing, marketing, and publishing their first book.

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