Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
The owner of the gay nightclub Pulse will be unveiling plans for a permanent memorial at the site where a gunman killed 49 people during "Latin Night" in a mass shooting last June.
Barbara Poma, who is the executive director and CEO of the onePULSE Foundation
, opened the club in 2004 in honor of her brother John, who died of AIDS in 1991. Poma will be sharing details about the vision and process for the memorial next week on Thursday, May 4, according to a press release.
"Pulse has always been a part of me, but after this tragedy which took 49 lives, it became a part of this community and the world," Poma says in a statement. "When this event happened, I had no clue how expansive the love for Pulse was. It’s important that we as a community be mindful and take great care to preserve, honor and help heal."
Poma will also introduce the OnePULSE Foundation's board of trustees and members of the memorial project's task force. City and county officials, as well as Pulse staff members, were invited to the announcement. On its website
, the foundation says a fund will be established to "support the construction and maintenance of the memorial, community grants to care for the survivors and victims’ families, endowed scholarships for each of the 49 angels and ultimately a museum showcasing the historic artifacts and stories from the event."
"Our goal is to create a sanctuary of hope around this tragic day in American history which honors the 49 lives that were taken, the 68 injured victims, and the first responders and healthcare professionals who treated them," the organization says. "This is more than another community endeavor to us. This is a defining mission and healing initiative for those involved and we hope to find supporters who share our vision and understand the sacred responsibility to which we have been entrusted."
Back in December
, Poma was in talks with city leaders to sell the Orlando club, but ultimately backed out of the deal, saying she couldn't walk away from a space that means so much to her family and community. Poma's decision came after resistance from some commissioners regarding the $2.25 million the City of Orlando had negotiated to pay for the site of the worst massacre in modern American history. Poma said she felt a "personal obligation" to create a permanent space at Pulse where victims, survivors and everyone affected by the tragedy can be remembered.