Voters Gear UP for Early Voting

There has been a lot of talk about our “new normal” with the spread of the Covid-19/Coronavirus pandemic and voting in one of the most crucial and historic United States Presidential Election in years, couldn’t escape the conversation. People are planning ahead and making adjustments to stay safe and make sure their vote counts.

Many voters in Central Florida are voting early – either by mail-in ballot (completing them and dropping them off to their Supervisor of Elections Office) or by voting early in person. In Orange and Seminole counties, early voting will start today, Oct. 19 and run through Nov. 1.

The early voting hours for Orange County: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. and for Seminole County: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Early Voting Locations or Centers are spread out throughout both counties. Orange County has 20 Early Voting Locations, including the elections office at 119 W. Kaley St. in Orlando and Seminole County has eight Early Voting Centers, including the elections office at 1500 E. Airport Blvd in Sanford. Just go to your local elections office website to see the other locations and addresses. Orange County: and Seminole County:

In Orange County, every early voting location will have a drop-box for vote-by-mail ballots during early voting hours, according to election officials. The only exception is for the newly added early voting location at the Amway Center (home of the Orlando Magic National Basketball Association team). That location will accept vote-by-mail drop-offs on early voting days from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. (So it opens one hour earlier than the other locations for vote-by-mail drop offs.)

Same thing in Seminole County: Voters can use election office drop-boxes at each early voting location throughout the county. (Same hours as early voting, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.)

Voters can further prepare for voting early in person by completing their sample ballot and taking it with them to vote early. That will save time and keep people safer (by avoiding being in crowds for extended periods of times.)

-Trish Martin, OCN Founder & Editor,

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Voter Registration Underway, Deadline Monday, Oct. 5

Florida residents, new to the state or new to the county in which they live or those who have never voted, have until next Monday, Oct. 5, to register in order to vote in the Presidential Election in November.

We’re still in a pandemic, Coronavirus a.k.a. COVID-19, so election officials and community leaders are urging residents to make a plan so that they can exercise their right to vote in the critical and historical election. The main thing at stake in the election: the United States Office of Presidency, the most powerful position in the natural world, currently held by Donald J. Trump. Former Vice President Joe Biden is running against Trump. Biden selected Senator Kamala Harris to be his running mate. Harris is the first Indian-American and Black American to be selected by a major political party for VP. She will face off against current VP Mike Pence.

Registering to vote may be the first step in your plan.

At this point, the most efficient and sure way to register is directly with your county Supervisor of Elections Office. In Orange County, the office is located at 119 W. Kaley Street, Orlando, FL, 32806. Phone: (407) 836-2070.

The elections office has even extended it’s hours to help people get registered – Saturday, Oct. 3 hours: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Monday, Oct. 5 hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Now is also a good time to update your contact information, signature and party affiliation. The goal is to be able to vote early or vote on election day with no issues to slow you down and/or slow other voters down waiting in line.

Because we’re only about a month away from election day and the whole country is experiencing challenges because of the virus, every registered voter should consider voting early rather than mailing in their ballots. You can vote early either by filling out your mail in ballot, signing it and dropping it off at your county elections office or by going to an early voting location in your county to vote in person. In Orange County, early voting will be open for 14 days, starting on Oct. 19 and ending on Nov. 1. Tuesday, Nov. 3, is Election Day.

If you have any questions about registering to vote in Orange County, call the elections office or visit the office in person – BEFORE Monday, Oct. 5!

-Trish Martin, OCN Founder & Editor,

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Food Distribution Today in Pine Hills

The “Labor of Love” continues today, August 27, in Pine Hills. New time and location: From 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at 98.5 FM Radio (The Wire), 6003 Silver Star Road, Suite 1, Orlando, FL 32808. It’s another drive through food distribution sponsored by Sandra Fatmi-Hall (United Foundation of Central Florida, Inc.) and Dr. Trisha Bailey (Bailey’s Pharmacy). Get there, by car or foot, with your face covering and distance keeping, if you are in need of food or if you know someone who is in need, share this information. For more information, call (770) 789-7004.

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Recommendations for Key Races In Central Florida: August 18 Primary Election

For only the third time in this publication’s history, I am sharing my recommendations for some key races for the Tuesday, August 18, Primary Election. Surprise! I am including Seminole County! Let me say this, either way, Central Florida (the whole country) is in need of Servant Leaders – people who have been out in the community, working, people who have a passion for serving others (mankind) and/or people who’s experience far outweighs their opponent’s experience. Servant leaders are ladder builders not ladder climbers: They don’t mind helping others up.

Florida’s Primary Election is today, Tuesday, August 18. Central Florida Polling Sites hours: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Call your county Supervisor of Elections Office if you have questions about your polling location or surrendering your mail-in ballot to vote.

For Seminole County, I recommend:

  • State Senator, District 9, Alexis Carter
  • State Representative, District 28, Pasha Baker
  • County Commissioner, District 5, Pernell Bush
  • Circuit Judge 18th Judicial Circuit, Group 15, Tesha Scolaro Ballou
  • Circuit Judge 18th Judicial Circuit, Group 18,
    Steve Henderson
  • Circuit Judge 18th Judicial Circuit, Group 21,
    Donna M. Goerner
  • Circuit Judge 18th Judicial Circuit, Group 25,
    Sam Bookhardt
  • County Court Judge, Group 6, Jessica Damoth
  • School Board Member, District 3, Veronica L. King


For Orange County, I recommend:

  • State Representative, District 44, Geraldine Thompson
  • State Attorney, 9th Judicial Circuit, Belvin Perry Jr.
  • Sheriff, Jose “Joe” Lopez
  • Property Appraiser, Amy Mercado
  • School Board, District 5, Bruce Antone
  • School Board, District 6, Karen Castor Dentel
Trish Martin, Founder & Editor, Orlando Community News 
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Orange County Registered Voters: You Can Vote in Person Today

August 3, 2020 – Orange County voters: You can vote today in person at designated Early Vote Locations throughout the county. Hours: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. The Locations are listed on your Sample Ballot but if you don’t have it handy, click on the Supervisor of Elections Office website and select the Voters and Early Voting tabs. Elecitons office

We probably can agree now that voting early either by mail or in person at an Early Voting Location is ideal for the Florida Primary Election, just several weeks away.

Orange County registered voters have a total of 14 days (including today) to vote at one of the early voting locations throughout the county: Aug. 3- Aug. 16. Hours: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Typically, the lines are shorter during onsite early voting than any particular time on Election Day.

Suggestion to voters: Take your completed Sample Ballot with you. That will save even more time and effort.

The Primary Election Day is on August 18.

If you have any questions or concerns about voting early at one of the designated locations especially about COVID-19 precautions, call the Supervisor of Elections Office, (407) 836-2070 or go to the website:

Note: If you want to stay home and vote by mail, you can. Just request a Vote-By-Mail ballot before 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 8. Complete it, sign the return envelope and return it so it is at the Elections Office by Election Day by 7 p.m. on August 18. Again, if you have questions, call the Supervisor of Elections Office, (407) 836-2070.

Posted in Community news that can help

Feeding the Hungry: Grassroots Effort for Month of July

July 15, 2020 (Pine Hills/Orlando) — Editor’s Note: The volunteers were told to be there at 9 a.m. – to unload the U-Haul, set up and package the food to be distributed a couple of hours later. This was the third occasion of a Weekly Food Distribution for the entire month of July at the Pine Hills Community Center. The team I worked with broke down about 26 giant croker sacks of white potatoes and placed three or four of them each into plastic bags and tied the bags up. Well, we used little bag ties until another volunteer came over and showed us a faster way (the old school way): She just tied a knot at the top of one of the bags and kept it moving. Before we knew it, we were done and on to the next job!

Shout Out and Big Ups to Sandra Fatmi-Hall, Executive Director of United Foundation of Central Florida and Dr. Trisha Bailey, of Bailey’s Medical Equipment and Supplies, for hearing about a need in the community and leaping into action.

“She called me to see what the kids needed. I told her I would let her know,” said Hall said of her friend, Dr. Bailey. “Then, a few days after that, I got word that phone calls were coming in of people needing food. I went out and bought some groceries. She said, ‘Honey, how much do I owe you.'”

And the rest is history, as they say. So on Wednesdays, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., they get together some volunteers and line up business partners who answer calls for donations, and the group sets up in front of the community center off Powers Drive. They distribute at no cost to families: meats, fresh vegetables, rice and beans, eggs; milk, potatoes, etc. With instructions to keep social distance and properly wear face masks, volunteers load people’s vehicles with the food, drinks and paper goods. This past Wednesday, 350 food packages were handed out. In Hall’s estimation, each package was enough to feed a family of four. There were more than 40 volunteers, she said.

What makes this food distribution unique is its frequency in the heart of the Pine Hills community. Typically, other organizations and churches in the vicinity sponsor food giveaways for one day. Also, it’s a grassroots effort and teenagers from Hall’s organization (based at Evans High School) are regular volunteers. I witnessed them diligently working; Come to think of it, I don’t recall seeing any of them with cell phones!

Hall, an active community leader, admitted the food distributed each week is never the same and the effort takes a lot of money. She was grateful for complete strangers donating – $100 here, $200 there and even someone who saw the effort posted on ClickOrlando. The person gave her $500 to help buy food.

“She said I’ve always loved the Pine Hills community,” Hall said of the gracious donor. “To me, the value is seeing people blessed. Another lady walked by and gave $250. This is a blessing.”

The people I spoke to as they drove by were grateful. They said “thank you” and “God bless you for doing this.”

Other key partners, including Feed the Need and 4 Rivers Smokehouse restaurant, provided food, volunteers and/or money.

For more information about this effort and to help out, contact Sandra Fatmi-Hall at (770) 789-7004, Email: or on Facebook: SandraFatmi-Hall.

-Trish Martin, Founder & Editor

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Elections Office Open This Saturday Before Registration Deadline

July 13, 2020 (Orlando) — The Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office is doing its part to make sure people have ample time to register in order to vote in the August Primary Election: The office will be open this Saturday, July 18, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and on Monday, July 20, from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., which is the deadline to register or select a political party.

“This is a chance for voters who cannot come in during our normal business hours to make sure they get registered or update their party affiliation before the deadline,” said Bill Cowles, Supervisor of Elections in a press release. “Voters can call or come in this Saturday to make sure their information is up-to-date, or make changes if needed.”

Voters: Take advantage because the office is typically closed on the weekends.

If you have moved, changed political parties, got married or divorced (changed your name), contact the elections office and update your information. You may avoid any confusion on Primary Election Day – Tuesday, August 18.

This is extremely important, considering our current climate in Florida with the COVID-19/Coronavirus spreading like wildfire throughout the state and restrictions that may be in place on election days as far as the number of people who can vote in a precinct at one time.

More and more people are opting to stay home and vote by mail in ballot. If the elections office does not have your current address, they cannot ensure that you will get your ballot.

Voters in August will select candidates running for Orange County Sheriff, Orange County Property Appraiser, school board and county commission, to name a few.

Keep in mind: Florida is a closed primary state so if you want to vote on those key public offices, you must select a political party: Democrat or Republican. You will see fewer positions to vote on if you register with a third party or don’t select a party at all. Still vote. Your vote is your voice.

Visit or call (407) 856-2070 for more information. The Elections Office is located at: 119 W. Kaley Street, Orlando, FL 32806.

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Don’t Wait: Register to Vote Where You Live to Vote in Upcoming Elections

June 19, 2020 (Orange County, FL) — It seems like a long time from now but we know that with everything going on in our world, time flies by. It’s important that if you plan to vote in the crucial Primary Election in August, you must make sure you are registered to vote where you live and in the party of your choice.

The deadline to register to vote or update you party affiliation is Monday, July 20 (about a month from now), according the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office. Also, if you plan to vote by mail you must request a ballot by 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8. The Primary Election is on Tuesday, August 18.

Florida is a closed primary state so you have to choose a party from which to select candidates.

In Orange County, voters will have a ballot full of names for Orange County Sheriff; Seven candidates are running against first-term Sheriff John Mina and there are several people running in each of the three open Orange County Commission seats. Same thing with the Property Appraiser position and four open School Board seats.

As we watch Americans of all races, ages and backgrounds protest and demand changes in light of a disproportionate number of Black people around the country being murdered at the hands of law enforcement officers, we are reminded that local positions are responsible for what happens in our communities. They work for residents, the main taxpayers. We all want to live in peace and expect law enforcement to protect and serve us. We want fair-minded people who are not afraid to do the right thing in the midst of racial tensions and a pandemic.

Your can register to vote or update your contact information or party affiliation at local driver license offices, public libraries as well as the Center for Independent Living and elections office.

The Orange County Elctions Office is located at 119 W. Kaley Street, Orlando, FL 32806. Phone: 407-836-2070. Website:

Posted in Community news that can help

COVID-19 Testing Available for Uninsured Residents

Do you want to get tested for the COVID-19 (a.k.a. Coronavirus) but don’t think you can because you don’t have health insurance? Well, you can and at no cost at these locations. (This information was complied by the folks managing the Central Florida Resilience System.)


Grace Medical Home will be offering FREE Testing 9am – 12 p.m. every Friday in the month of June. Patients do not need to be showing symptoms and no appointment is necessary. For more information contact Susan Gardner at ***@***.*** (you can click on the asterics to send an email).

FREE NO INSURANCE REQUIRED Mon June 22nd at the Farmworkers Association Register here

FREE NO INSURANCE REQUIRED Tue June 23rd at John Bridge Community Center, Apopka Register here

FREE NO INSURANCE REQUIRED Wed June 24th at Neighborhood Center for Families in Zellwood Register here

Please share this information; You never know who may need it.

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Great is Thy Faithfulness: OCN Turns 9

9 Year Anniversary Achievement
Happy Anniversary with!
You registered on 9 years ago.
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.

Singing, “Great is thy faithfulness, Great is thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see! All I have needed, thy hands have provided. Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!” It’s certainly by The Lord’s mercieS that we are not consumed, because his compassionS they fail not. Amen. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Inspiration from the hymn and Lamentations 3: 22-23, Holy Bible) This is a special morning for Orlando Community News: God has so graciously allowed it to be online for 9 years – TODAY. Someone praise God with me! I’m thankful for the vision and the vehicle to tell people about GOOD news happening every day around us and HELPFUL information to give residents an opportunity to live better lives – in just about every way. May God bless each one of you for staying connected by registering for updates here, following me on here or sharing information you read here. Please keep this publication in your prayers. I believe in the power of prayer and I know that God will lead me to even higher heights! Thank you and I will see you real soon because there is so much Good Stuff to talk about! I love you with the love of God!

-Trish Martin, Founder and Publishing Editor, Orlando Community News

Posted in Community news that can help