Kissimmee hotel fire victims question donation dispersals

By Stephanie Bechara, Osceola County Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, December 29, 2016, 10:19 PM EST

Zuleika Domingos not only lived at Unno Boutique Hotel -- she was also a housekeeper there. So when a fire took the Kissimmee hotel a few days before Christmas, she lost her home and her job.

Domingos is grateful for the community's help, but she's concerned about the way donations are being dispersed.

"They gave us a $25 gift card from Walmart for six people, a $15 Subway card for six people and a $20 Publix card for six people," Domingos explained.

Victims were given a chance to grab whatever they needed from the material donations received. What was not picked out was given to Goodwill.

A spokesperson with Goodwill of Central Florida said they donated $1,750 worth of vouchers that were distributed to the families to purchase other items they may need.

Domingos finds it insulting that she now has to buy what she needs, when these items were given to them in the first place.

"We received a $20 Goodwill voucher to buy everything that was already donated to us and I don't think that's fair," Domingos said.

Domingos said she and her family didn't grab more donations at the time due to lack of storage.

Osceola County said $18,000 were raised through REDI, the county's disaster program. Those funds were used to temporarily house these families, a cost totaling $23,000.

We reached out to the agencies involved. They say in total more than $30,000 has been set aside to help cover food, lodging and transportation for the victims. Ongoing donations are expected to cover the difference.

Still, Domingos believes more could be done.

"Nobody has gone to the hotel to check on us, nobody has gone to the hotel to bring us food," she said.

Goodwill officials said they will remain involved and are committing an additional $1,000 worth of vouchers for any follow-up needs the families may have.