Victim Service Center opens office in Winter Garden

The organization’s newest satellite office is made possible by its partnership with Shepherd’s Hope and the West Orange Healthcare District.

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  • | 11:17 a.m. August 6, 2021
Pam Gould, left, Lui Damiani, Tracy Swanson and Orange County District 1 Commissioner Nicole Wilson were pleased to announce the new three-way partnership.
Pam Gould, left, Lui Damiani, Tracy Swanson and Orange County District 1 Commissioner Nicole Wilson were pleased to announce the new three-way partnership.
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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A new partnership among three organizations is bringing vital services to victims of traumatic circumstances in West Orange County.

The Victim Service Center of Central Florida announced Thursday, July 29, it would be joining forces with Shepherd’s Hope and the West Orange Healthcare District to establish a West Orange satellite office that would enhance such services. 

VSC was established as a nonprofit organization in 2001 and now serves victims of crime, sexual assault and more across Central Florida. Its new West Orange satellite office is located at Shepherd’s Hope’s Winter Garden campus. The West Orange Healthcare District has provided the VSC a grant to cover costs for renting space there.

“This project has been a long time coming,” VSC Executive Director Lui Damiani said. “A couple of years ago, our board of directors said it’s strategical for us creating mutually beneficial partnerships and also broadening our services into satellite-type offices — expanding to additional offices. Today is a culmination of a lot of that work of fostering partnerships, which today is a very unique partnership between three nonprofits, and it doesn’t happen every day. Individually, we couldn’t do this; together, we can combine our resources and can do this.”

VSC’s newest location will focus on breaking down what a University of Central Florida research study said are the most critical barriers for survivors to seek help. That includes fear and mistrust of the legal system; cultural disclosure norms; lack of service awareness and transportation; a mismatch between survivor-provider demographic characteristics; and survivor shame/stigma.  

“We also identified that we were underserving the black community, and what we should do is not only establish the satellite office but then begin to work in West Orange to try to improve services for the black community,” Damiani said. “We will serve all in this facility, and we will specifically make some outreach efforts to make sure that we try to enhance our services to some of the more challenged communities.”

Shepherd’s Hope President and CEO Pam Gould said partnerships like these are among the intentions of the visionaries who made the nonprofit possible.

“This is exactly the kind of partnership for that whole, wraparound kind of service that we need to provide for our community,” Gould said. “This will be one of many programs that we hope to launch and facilitate out of this building to really help people thrive so that they have the medical care and support that they need — whether that’s mental health, physical health or long-term continuity of care. … We could never do this without funding, because we offer care for free for those that are uninsured.”

West Orange Healthcare District CEO Tracy Swanson said this partnership also helps further the district’s Healthy West Orange initiative — a grassroots movement with a mission of building the healthiest community in the nation.

“We couldn’t be happier to be here as a significant funder for the actual construction and placement of this facility in West Orange,” Swanson said. “To see it blossom and expand to include the VSC, we’re thrilled to be part of it. We’re very proud to be founding champions of Healthy West Orange, and we love the partnership we have with Shepherd’s Hope. (We) welcome Lui, as well, and his team to participate in galvanizing this community around becoming the healthiest community in the nation.”


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