Come Out with Pride 2017

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If you didn’t attend "Come Out with Pride" this past weekend, you missed out! This was my first pride parade in Orlando and I had high expectations. All morning at work, I was counting the minutes, monitoring traffic, and pouring over my friend’s Snapchat stories in anticipation of the parade that lie ahead. The second I left, I changed into the most colorful clothes I had and rushed towards downtown.

There were so many people, vendors, and food trucks crammed into Lake Eola, the explosion of color was almost overwhelming. I met up with Nicolette and the team at the Equality Florida booth. Remember, this Pride, like every one before it, was to serve a purpose; to end discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.

We then moved over to our spot in the parade route. This was the first pride parade that I have ever walked in. We weren't at the very front of the parade so we got to see quite a few floats and organizations walk by. I was amazed at the sheer diversity of the groups that took part in the festivities! I saw everybody from local softball teams, to national retail chains, to our elected officials and candidates, at all levels. I saw Congresswoman Val Demings walking the parade in heels. THREE AND HALF MILES IN HEELS!

In regards to walking the parade, I was a bit nervous for the first 5 seconds. Then we turned the corner onto Rosalind Avenue and all my quivers evaporated. I felt like we were center stage. To see thousands of people gathered in celebration of acceptance and community really touched me. The streets were lined with people of all generations, genders, and race. I saw children cheering and dancing along to the music. I had ladies old enough to be my grandmother come up and hug me. I gave high-fives to the police officers along the parade route. It was inspiring!

The spirit on Saturday motivates me, Nicolette and this campaign. The unapologetic optimism for the future of our community and the prosperity that we can foster right now. Orange County is on the right track, let's keep moving 4ward!

 

Marcello Fischer

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Online Voter Registration

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Florida has just become the 35th state that will allow Online Voter Registration. Hooray for democracy!

 

To register to vote click this link and make sure you meet the following requirements:

 

  • Must be a U.S. Citizen

  • Must be 18 years old (may pre-register at 16 years of age)

  • Must be a Florida resident

If you need to update your address, name, or party affiliation, you can use this same process to make that change. Need more info? Click the following link to obtain the english and spanish versions of the “Quick Facts” sheet.

 

Prefer to register in person? Federal and State laws allow you to apply for or update an existing voter registration in person at the following locations:

  • Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

  • Public Library

  • Center for Independent Living

  • WIC & DCF offices

  • Any elections office

 

To complete your Voter Registration Application in person, you may visit Orange County Supervisor of Elections at 119 W. Kaley St. Orlando, FL 32806.

 

Voter Registration Link:

https://registertovoteflorida.gov/en/Registration/CMS

 

Quick Facts Sheet Link: http://www.ocfelections.com/forms/voter_registration_forms/OVR_QUICK.pdf

 

 

Finally, keep in mind, registration MUST be complete no fewer than twenty nine (29) days PRIOR to the upcoming election date.  

 

Happy Voting!

Katherine Andrews

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Puerto Rico Introspective

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The last few weeks have been met with disaster after disaster and it has truly tested our strength as neighbors and citizens. One that hit especially hard was Hurricane Maria. I was born in Puerto Rico, grew up a little there, and then moved to the United States to start school. While I didn’t spend my entire childhood on the island, I visited my friends and family often and have a special connection to the island, culture, and people.

Hurricane Maria destroyed almost everything on the island and put the people I care about the most in harm's way. Communication has been severely limited creating feelings of fear and worry. I know many of our neighbors here in Central Florida are fellow Boricuas, dealing with the same concerns as my family. Communication with family on the island is slowing becoming more frequent. However, every time we hear from family, no matter who, their message is the same, “We’re safe but we need help.”

Most of my family lives in Ponce and Salinas. Those towns are on the south side of the island. I have so many great memories of Puerto Rico and these beautiful towns. The people there feel forgotten. Little help has reached the south part of the island. I recently spoke to State Senator Victor Torres about his recent trip to Ponce. He confirmed the devastion and the needs firsthand. The Puerto Rico people feel forgotten. Our community in central Florida has done a tremendous amount of work to help our neighbors in the Caribbean, both Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Even within the campaign, the team has organized donation drives and volunteered to help sort and load supplies. And they are consistently asking about my family and offering to help. Despite the outpouring of support stateside, we cannot let the island be forgotten by the news cycle. Over ninety percent of the island still does not have power. Resources running low and are being replenished quickly enough. It’s important that those of us here keep advocating for the those who cannot. Rebuilding will be a long process, we need to continue to volunteer, donate, and speak out for Puerto Rico. Our team encourages you donate your time and treasure as much as possible. Two organizations we recommend are the Hispanic Federation and CASA - Coordinadora de Apoyo, Solidaridad y Ayuda. Both are taking monetary donations and CASA needs volunteers to help sort supplies at their warehouse located at 1602 N. Goldenrod Rd. Orlando, from 10 am until 6 pm daily. Please contact them directly for more details.

Gabriel Atiles

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Shot@Life Program

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Five years ago, I began volunteering with Shot@Life, an organization within the United Nations Foundation, that rallies the American public and members of Congress around the fact that together, we can save a child’s life every 20 seconds by expanding access to vaccines. Shot@Life educates, connects and empowers Americans to champion vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries.

As a volunteer with Shot@Life, I have two objectives: Advocate to members of Congress to support vaccination programs worldwide and to educate others about the importance of global access to immunizations. Once a year, I visit with members of Congress in Washington, D.C. to update them about the progress and success of Shot@Life and their partners. Such as the Measles Initiative that has vaccinated one billion children in 60 developing countries since 2001, decreasing world measles deaths by 74 percent. I also continue that dialogue with my Members of Congress throughout the year in their district office.

The education portion of my role is one of my favorites. Last week, I had the opportunity to train fifty pre-med student members of American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) on the best practices for advocating about the importance of increasing access to vaccines to children everywhere.

It was wonderful sharing my advocacy experience with the students this past weekend. Vaccines are one of the most safe and cost-effective ways to save and improve the lives of children. They need our voice, we can give children around the world a shot at life.

Currently, Shot@Life is partnered with Walgreens, for their annual Get a Shot, Give a Shot program, for every vaccine administered at a Walgreens clinic, one is donated to a child in need.

Nicolette Springer

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