ORLANDO, Fla. — Expect to see a few new faces in downtown Orlando now that the city’s Ambassador Program is underway.
- Downtown ambassador program launches
- Ambassadors will provide visitors, residents w/ variety of services
- Big focus for them: helping homeless people
“Hey, how are you doing? You doing alright today?” asked one of the new ambassadors while out on their first shift.
Mike Mitchell is Operations Manager for the program and will provide visitors and residents with a lot of different services.
The services include safety escorts for workers and residents, helping visitors navigate the downtown’s many venues, connecting the most vulnerable individuals to critical social services and curbing aggressive panhandling.
They will also be checking in with Orlando-area business owners too.
Wednesday, Mitchell met Stacey Papp, who owns C6 by Bay Hill Jewelers.
“We will definitely be around Mrs. Stacey, and whatever you need, let us know. And if we can accommodate, we are here,” Mitchell told Papp.
As a new downtown business owner, Papp said the program means a lot, especially because a big focus for the ambassadors will be to help the homeless.
“A lot of them are just wandering, and they don’t know where they can get help. So, the town cares so deeply for these people that they are taking the extra time to make sure that our ambassadors are going to help them find where they need to be,” Papp said.
It’s not illegal to panhandle, so the ambassadors won’t put an end to the panhandling. Instead, if they see someone in need they can direct them to local services with the Health Care Center of the Homeless ‘HOPE team.’
“They need this in this city,” said Chase Beale, a panhandler.
He said he sees people in need of information downtown all the time.
“They come downtown, they get scared, they see all these people, they are like where is the Lynx bus station or where is the place to eat, or where is the shelter at? I got my bags with me, and when they ask an ambassador, that saves them,” Beale said.
The ambassadors’ schedule is not set in stone. The City of Orlando said the ambassadors will work a variety of shifts seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
If you need the help of an ambassador, call or text 407-902-4374.
The program is funded by downtown businesses through the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency.