HFC's Journey after PULSE

The first two weeks...

The morning of June 12th impacted not only the city of Orlando, but the entire world. It was a moment where everyone let all hate aside and stood up for love and humanity. The City, the Country, and the World was #OrlandoStrong.

Hispanic Family Counseling immediately recognized that the city needed our help. With certified, culturally competent therapists, within the first two weeks we were able to provide: 

  • Free crisis intervention 
  • Free access to our office
  • Free visits to counsel those in need at their workplaces, schools or their home

This translated to 960 hours of community service which impacted 312 people who were in critical need.

At Hispanic Family Counseling, we make sure that the mental health services provided to our Hispanic community are of the utmost quality. As a result of the bond created through these interactions, therapists were invited and attended viewings of families who they assisted and have been servicing since the tragedy.

Hispanic Family Counseling has been working with 44 survivors and family victims several times a week, or as needed since the tragedy of June 12th at Pulse Nightclub occurred.


Our community responds to the call

After PULSE, many survivors were left without jobs and little to no money for rent and car payments. Transportation itself became a huge challenge. The Ford Fund, provided an SUV to mobilize clients and therapists and better facilitate their needs during these difficult times.  We have also distributed $1,560 in gift cards as well as several bus passes and a number of goods and donations received from:  

  • The Center in Orlando
  • University of Central Florida 
  • Alley/Wise Family
  • IASWG  - International Association for Social Work with Groups
  • Hispanic Federation
  • Ken Macalintal
  • City of Osceola
  • Hope & Help


Giving back to the Community was in full effect in the city of Orlando. Everyone took a stand and united to help one another. #HispaFam provided or facilitated the following:

  • Counseling services at the Aveda School
  • A Team of 8 counselors and staff who participated at the ​Latin Vigil held on June 24, 2016
  • A booth set up at a 3-day expo event for the largest Hispanic Nonprofit Organization in the Country: National Council La Raza 2016.
  • Attendance at multiple conferences to enrich our knowledge to better work for our Hispanic community. 
  • Two weeks of camp for children grades 3rd to 12th --We have been able to see the growth and development of the kids that participated and continue to work on helping them understand boundaries, the importance of diversity and how to improve their social skills and deal with anger. 


HFC Marches with the Community

Not only is giving back to the Community important, but so is being involved with different entities, businesses and organizations willing to make an impact in the community by assisting them with their dire needs. Among the many meetings taken to assist survivors, we have been involved with:  

  • The Mexican Consulate and families affected by the ​Pulse tragedy to assist them with any legal matters as well as offering our counseling services if needed. 
  • Several meetings with the Pulse Orlando Mobilization Campaign.
  • Several meetings with National Council of La Raza, and their President Janet Murgia to discussed issues Hispanic families are going through and how we are able to assist them. 
  • Discussion with the New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito.
  • Attended meetings about identifying the gaps and strategize ways to help our community, with the:

                   - Central Florida Foundation

                   - Hispanic Federation and their new project Somos Orlando

                   - American Red Cross

                   - United Way

                   - University of Central Florida

                   - National Association of Social Work

                   - American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

  • Collaborated with the University of Central Florida (UCF) School of Social Work to provide bilingual group counseling for Pulse survivors facilitated by, UCF Professor, Dr. Olga Molina.
  • Memorandum of understanding to better assist our community with:

                  - Mental Health Association of Central Florida

                  - Hispanic Health Initiative


HFC in the news

HFC has conducted community outreach by participating in 23 press conferences and interviews including among others:  

  • CNN en Español
  • Telemundo Orlando,
  • Orlando Sentinel-- the #1 local newspaper
  • La Nueva 990AM radio station – where we educated radio listeners on how to better understand the effects of tragedy and how to cope with depression and PTSD among other topics.
  • Our Executive Director, Denisse Centeno-Lamas, was a panelist for a press conference that also hosted Dolores Huerta, a recognized American labor leader and civil rights activist. 


HFC Leads by Example

At Hispanic Family Counseling, bettering the quality of life for our clients is what we live by, but we also believe in best practice. Therefore, we responsibly take care of our greatest assets who are our therapists and staff.  To provide the best service to our community, especially during crisis intervention, we have been offering the following for our team:   

  • Culturally Competent LGBTQ training for all staff/therapists
  • EMDR training for 2 therapists
  • Yoga
  • Debriefing groups for our therapists and staff by Dr. Nancy Miller
  • Ear-acupuncture -- provided by Community Acupuncture of Orlando
  • Massages -- provided to therapists and staff from School of Holistic Living. 
  • Partnership with UCF to provide bilingual debriefing for counselors by Dr. Olga Molina
  • Hispanic Health Initiative invited #HispaFam for a night of laughter with Elizardi Castro
  • Spiritual outlet with the Christian Puerto Rican singer Noemi Luz Bonilla 
  • Lunches distribution by Well Care, Red Lobster, and Lisa Colon among others  

At Hispanic Family Counseling, we take pride in aiding survivors and family victims of this tragedy. Our culturally competent, highly trained professionals not only counsel, but educate and bring awareness to our community. This evinces our motto of: bettering the quality of life for all families and individuals suffering from Mental Health conditions.


Two months after PULSE -- Message from our Executive Director:

During the past two months our community has been hurting, we continue to mourn. We experienced probably the most traumatic event of our lives.  It has been extremely emotional. It also feels as a personal attack given that all this happened in my community, to my people.

The level of frustration, pain and hurt is surreal. However, I believe that we are a RESILIENT community, and while we continue to grieve, I do believe that we will heal, never forget, but HEAL. I am very grateful for all the help, donations, and assistance we have received over the last two months. There have been many donations provided by community leaders, from large institutions to humble individuals. We value and humbly accept your contributions and promise to channel them to those in need to the best of our abilities.  Thanks for your support to #HispaFam. 

With peace and love,
Denisse Centeno-Lamas, LCSW
Executive Director

Hispanic Family Counseling, Inc.


One Year After Pulse

Monday, June 12th, 2017 marked a year after the tragedy of Pulse. In the past year, our community has been hurting and we continue to mourn. We experienced probably the most traumatic event of our lives. It has been extremely emotional and has felt like a personal attack to all in our community.

For many of us, it has also been a year of difficult, but much needed, work with a heartbroken community. The work only started with being first responders. Hispanic Family Counseling Inc. continues to serve in the efforts to help foster healing. Throughout the year, we have participated in Pulse related events, such as Lessons from the Pulse Massacre Response, CommUNITY Rainbow Run, and UCF’s Remembering Pulse, determined to stand in solidarity with our community. 

In addition, we had a memorandum of understanding with Hispanic Federation's Proyecto Somos Orlando in order for our therapists to provide services in their location. This provided clients with a place where they could get services and feel safe again after the tragedy. We also worked with the City of Orlando and the Orange County Government on Orlando United Day, having 18 therapists volunteer in case anyone needed psychological first aid at the remembrance event that day.

Our agency also provided free culturally competent counseling at our agency on June 12th and 13th, 2017 to anyone as we remembered the year mark of Pulse. We have also continued to see clients who are Pulse survivors, family of victims, and community members, with the help of grants and funds designated for working with those affected by this tragedy. We are grateful to have received grants and funds from a variety of community sources, which include:

  • Central Florida Foundation Better Together Fund through United Way
  • Orlando United Assistance Center
  • Mental Health Association
  • Hispanic Federation through Proyecto Somos Orlando
  • Community Based Care of Central Florida
  • Victims of Crime Act (VOCA)

Likewise, we have been grateful for all of the help, grants, funds, donations, and assistance we have received over the past year. There have been many donations provided by community leaders, from large institutions to humble individuals. We value and humbly accept your contributions and promise to channel them to those in need to the best of our abilities. Thanks for your support to #Hispafam.

Additionally, we were honored to have received a visit from Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, who presented HFC with a copy of the House Resolution 8077, recognizing “Pulse Remembrance Day” in Florida, as a thank you for the work the agency has done after the Pulse tragedy.

​During this past year, the level of frustration, pain and hurt has been surreal. However, HFC believes we are a RESILIENT community, and while we continue to grieve, we will heal, never forget, but HEAL. We know the work is not over, which is why we will not cease to provide continuous support to anyone who was affected directly or indirectly by the Pulse tragedy. We will continue to serve in any way we can in our enduring effort to be a haven of strength for our community, especially during times such as this.

Our commitment, our vision…

Hispanic Family Counseling was created in 2012, with the desire and passion to help our community. The Latino community of Central Florida has substantially grown over the last decade and there are not many agencies that specifically target the necessities that we have as Hispanics, starting with the language barriers, but beyond that helping with the acculturation and assimilation process.  

Our vision could not be more precise for this difficult moment: “To be the haven of strength to those in despair and help them embark on a journey of hope where perseverance coexists with education, truth lives with optimism and healing is the destination.” 

We are here to serve our community; we are here to serve you.  Please do not hesitate to contact us at 407-382-9079 or by contacting us on our website if there is anything we can do to help you.  

With peace and love,

The #HispaFam Team