ORLANDO, Fla. – Over the two years Reginald Hawkins has been employed as a security guard at the Pulse nightclub, he’s grown to love his co-workers and customers.
“At Pulse, it was a family type situation,” said Hawkins, who was not working the night a gunman stormed the club, killing 49 people.
“It kind of made me angry more than anything because I wasn’t there.”
Besides undergoing counseling to cope with the grief, Hawkins has also suffered financially since he stopped receiving paychecks from Pulse.
“I pay child support. That’s (one of the reasons) I was working at Pulse, to help me with that.”
Thursday, Hawkins was among several Pulse employees who received an undisclosed amount of money, compliments of generous donors.
“They helped me out a lot, so I can get by without having to work there for a while,” said Hawkins, who has another part-time job.
Pulse of Orlando Inc. is a nonprofit organization established by the nightclub shortly after the shooting to assist employees and victims. Through a Latin Night fundraising event at an Orlando restaurant last week and donations made on its website, pulseoforlando.org, the group has raised more than $50,000.
“Today we are so excited because we're the first organization that's actually able to distribute funds directly to Pulse employees,” said Aly Benitez, the founder and board president of Pulse of Orlando, Inc.
“Some of them had second jobs, they're not able to work those second jobs. They're falling back on their bills. Or they don't have the transportation or the funds to get the transportation to counseling or medical appointments.”
About 30 Pulse employees have requested financial assistance, according to Benitez.
The organization’s board decides who will receive money and how much, based on the need expressed on the employees’ applications.
“There’s a wide range of needs, so we’re just supplementing and trying to fill in those needs and give some financial assistance,” said Benitez.
“I'm surprised by it,” said Hawkins. “I wasn't expecting this much support. It's just very rewarding.”