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Photo Courtesy of onePULSE Foundation. 
Photo Courtesy of onePULSE Foundation. 

The onePULSE Foundation, creating a sanctuary of hope and remembering 49 lives lost

In the years since the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016, many efforts have been made to keep the memories of the lives lost on that day alive. 

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June 12 marked five years since the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida.

On that day, the United States endured its second-worst mass shooting in history, as 49 people were killed and 68 others were injured by a single gunman.

In the years since that tragedy, the city of Orlando and the LGBTQ+ community has committed to keeping the memory of those victims alive through the onePULSE Foundation.

“It was really important to me that people learned not only the story of what happened at Pulse that night, but also what you can do differently in your life to change the future, how we can become a better society, a better human race,” said Barbara Poma, CEO and executive director of the onePULSE Foundation, on why she started the foundation. 

The onePULSE Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shooting to create a sanctuary of hope and honor, and to preserve the legacy of all those affected.

“The question really began of ‘how.’ How are you going to not let hate win? And so we came up with this concept of outloving it, and just winning by loving," Poma told Spectrum News 13

The four pillars of the nonprofit’s mission are to create and support a memorial that opens hearts, a museum that opens minds, educational programs that open eyes, and legacy scholarships that open doors. While the organization remains in its early stages in terms of funding, both the memorial and the museum would be built in the nightclub’s neighborhood, south of downtown Orlando, about a third of a mile away. 

On the fifth anniversary of the massacre on Saturday, President Joe Biden announced his intention to sign a bill designating Pulse Nightclub as a national memorial, calling it “hallowed ground.”

“But there is more we must do to address the public health epidemic of gun violence in all of its forms — mass shootings and daily acts of gun violence that don’t make national headlines,” Biden continued in his statement. “It is long past time we ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, establish extreme risk protection orders, also known as ‘red flag’ laws, and eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.”

We must also acknowledge gun violence’s particular impact on LGBTQ+ communities across our nation. We must drive out hate and inequities that contribute to the epidemic of violence and murder against transgender women — especially transgender women of color. We must create a world in which our LGBTQ+ young people are loved, accepted, and feel safe in living their truth. And the Senate must swiftly pass the Equality Act, legislation that will ensure LGBTQ+ Americans finally have equal protection under law.”

Last month, the onePULSE Foundation announced its second class of scholarships in honor of the 49 lives lost during the 2016 massacre. Five family members of the Pulse victims, two Pulse shooting survivors, 10 scholars from the inaugural class, five trade and technical students, 32 undergraduates and 12 graduate students were awarded a total of $236,300 in scholarship money to go towards the 2021-22 academic school year.

“Our mission is to provide academic opportunities — honoring the aspirations of all 49 Angels — to recipients who embody love, hope, unity, courage and unconditional acceptance,” the organization’s site reads

On Saturday, a remembrance ceremony was held in Orlando to provide a space for survivors, first responders, trauma teams and all those affected by the Pulse tragedy to remember their loved ones peacefully.

The ceremony marked the conclusion of Five-Year Pulse Remembrance Week, which represented a slew of community-wide events and activities throughout the week that served to show togetherness and unity for the LGBTQ+ community, not only in Orlando or the state of Florida, but nationwide. 

Support for the onePULSE Foundation’s efforts can be done through volunteering, money donations or organizational partnerships. For more information about the organization or how you can give support, click here

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