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Highlights of 2010 Memorial Day Events

Alaska

An Australian archeologist visited Anchorage, Alaska to do research on World War II, but was shocked by the amount of dead homeless in the city. He photographed aerial views of the city and marked the sites where the homeless had died.  Following there was a photo exhibit in Anchorage, Alaska called “Dying on the Streets: A Photoessay of Homeless Deaths in Anchorage, 2010. The exhibit included twenty eight photos of the nineteen places where homeless had died in 2010. The date and the name of the person who died were included with each photo.  Admission to the exhibit was donation of warm clothing.

Arizona

The fifth annual Homeless Memorial was held in Yuma, AZ. It honored all those who passed away in 2010 – those that were homeless, or members of the homeless community.  Eighty names were read and remembered. The ceremony included singling, scripture reading and sharing the names of men and women who had died. One of the organizers said, “We have seen this event have a great impact on our clients in recovery, that it motivates them to strive for sobriety.”

California

Local homeless and homeless advocates gathered together in Laguna Beach, CA at a vigil to remember those lost. The event was organized by Better Times Advocates for the Homeless and it was held at the homeless alternative sleeping location, Laguna Canyon. The even consisted of a vigil and a reading of the names.

A Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day walk was held in San Diego, CA. Over 200 people participated in the walk and a vigil to remember the fifty people who died between October 2009 and September 2010 in the area. Some people even held shoes as they walked to represent those people lost. The walk was from the San Diego Rescue Mission to the San Diego County Administration Center. There were readings from a variety of faiths during the interfaith vigil along with music.

A candlelight vigil was held in San Francisco, CA in memory of the homeless who died on the streets this year. This was the 21st annual vigil. The organizer of the event, Rev. Hope said, “The idea is that we have to tell the truth. We have to say it out loud. People are dying on our streets.” The vigil included songs, chants and the reading of approximately 100 names of the deceased. Sixty five people gathered at the vigil. A homeless choral group called “Singers of the Street”sang.

There was a memorial for the homeless men and women who died in San Jose, CA. The press released stated, “This memorial is held not only to pay our respects to those who have passed away, but also to fight for the living.” The name of every one of the deceased was read individually.

An interfaith memorial honored the homeless who died in San Rafael, CA. Names of 144 homeless who have died since 1995 were read out loud. More than sixty people gathered to remember these people. The event consisted of a short prayer reading, song and a reading of the names.

The Homeless Services Center in Santa Cruz, CA hosted a memorial service and read the list of deceased homeless people. Unfortunately, this same center is a primary cause of homelessness in the area since it has decreased services and has engaged in homeless-hostile acts. Flags with the names of the deceased were set out around the center to remember the people who had died. Around 100 people gathered for the event.

Sixty homeless supporters attended a memorial service in Redding, CA to honor the thirteen homeless who died. There was also an evening memorial service held. The half and hour ceremony concluded with a prayer. The homeless were given lunch after the ceremony. This was the 10th year that the event was held.

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Ventura, CA hosted a service to honor the local homeless who had died. Additionally, the event was meant to bring awareness and attention to the fact that Ventura has no emergency year-round homeless shelter. Volunteers gave away toiletries and blankets, along with some food. The service consists of song, prayer and words of sympathy. The ceremony was concluded by the group singing “This land is your land.”

Colorado

The city of Alamosa, Colorado honored the Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day by holding a candlelight vigil. La Puente, a non-profit working with people who are homeless and community members in need in Colorado’s San Luis Valley organized the event. They mourned the lives of Rick Cordova and Valerie Zamora, who died this year, as well as countless others who died within the past five or so years.

Citizens of Boulder, CO held a memorial service at the Bandshell in Boulder’s Central Park to remember the twenty two homeless individuals who died this year. “This is a way of saying that people count, no matter what,” said Joy Eckstine, executive director of Carriage House Community Table. “They count no matter what bad decisions they may have made, no matter what bad things have happened to them. That’s the heart of it.” The service included music, poems, and short stories to memorialize those lost at the hands of homelessness. “It’s not just a gesture of respect for the person who has passed,” Eckstine said. “It’s support for those who are still here. It’s a lonely, harsh anonymous life. To see that some is remembered means a lot.” They remembered Manuel Marquez, Monte Zing, Jonathon Garret, James Lynn, Jim Nelson, Casey Dean, Tom Moffitt, Ralph “Halfbreed” Miller, Paul Moreno, Charles Kutcher, Michael Meredith, Lisa Ersland, Deborah “Noah” Helmke, Carol Cordoba, Crowzee, Danny Moon, Terry Kramer, Donald “Sarge” Beebe, Tanya Guevara, Ginger Griffiths, Tim Peterson, and Delores Keithline.

For the 25th year in a row, a few hundred people gathered in Denver, CO. The Office of the Governor officially proclaimed that December 21, 2010 was “Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day” in CO. There were 145 people who were honored: 31 women and 114 men ranging from two months to eighty one years old in age. The event was covered by more than six sources of media, including USA today. The event consisted of a candlelight vigil, memorial service and name reading of those who had passed away.

Connecticut

A candlelight walk and memorial service was held in Danielson, CT.

In Meridian, CT, a memorial service and candlelight vigil was held in honor the homeless that died in 2010. The event was hosted by the “Wherever You Are Healthcare for the Homeless” program. The event included State Representative Chris Donovan, Mayor Rohde and members of service organizations in the town.

Middletown, CT held a memorial service and candlelight vigil in honor of  the homeless that died in 2010. The event was hosted by the “Wherever You Are Healthcare for the Homeless” program. The event included two homeless speakers, State Senator Paul Doyle, Mayor Guiliano and members of homeless advocacy groups.

In New Britain, CT, a memorial service and candlelight vigil was held in honor of homeless that died in 2010. The event was hosted by the “Wherever You Are Healthcare for the Homeless” program. The event included State Senator DeFronzo, Mayor Stewart and members of homeless advocacy groups in the town.

Stamford, CT’s homeless were remembered in a memorial service. Seven names of deceased homeless were read and honored. Dr. Henry Yoon of Optimus Health Care shared the daunting fact that the life span of a homeless person is between 45 and 55 years old, compared to a 80 year life expectancy for the general public. One homeless resident of Stamford shared his story.

In Willimatic, CT, a health fair was held in the Town Hall followed by a memorial service to honor National Homeless Memorial Day.

Advocates for the homeless in West Hartford, CT gathered together remembering the homeless that died in 2010. Carol Walter, the Executive Director of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, said that the day is the shortest day and longest night of the year. She hopes that the event will raise awareness about the dangers of homelessness. Donations of toiletries and outwear were collected.

Delaware

In Wilmington, DE representatives of the clergy spoke at a prayer serve for National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. Bishop Morton was the keynote speaker at the event that remembered men and women who died homeless in 2010. Each person in attendance lit a candle in memory of someone who had died.

District of Columbia

Washington, DC held its National Homeless Persons’ Memorial halfway between the White House and the Capitol Building. It was held at the site of the 1960’s Poor People’s Campaign. Homeless men and women stood side by side federal and city officials along with nation and local homeless advocates and members of various religious and civic groups. The names of the dead were read aloud. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and DC Council members Thomas and Wells spoke. Additionally, USICH Director Barb Poppe spoke about the power of coming together in thoughtful reflections. A church hosted a meal following the service.

Florida

Citizens of Bradenton, FL attended a vigil in honor of the National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day in memory of twenty four  homeless men and women who died on the streets of Manatee and Sarasota Counties. Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness sponsored the event, which was held at the Salvation Army in Sarasota.

Citizens of Charlotte County, FL gathered together in honor of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day to remember those lost to homelessness. The Charlotte County Homeless Coalition sponsored a candlelight vigil in memory of Donald G. Lefebvre, Stephen A. Lengyel, Joel A. Dupuis, Michael Byrd, Joyce Celeste (Andreola) Entrican, John David Probst, Joseph Frye (Indian Joe), Joseph W. Ciccone (Chicago Joe), Bobby Hickox, and Pablo Martinez.

Citizens of Citrus County, FL gathered together in honor of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day to remember those lost to homelessness. JOER CARES, a homeless advocacy project, along with the Family Resource Center of Citrus County, sponsored the event. John Young, director of JOER CARES, and State Representative Jimmie Smith gave a proclamation. Reverend Eugene Reuman of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church of Inverness gave the Invocation. The service also included speakers Sharon Martin, the Supportive Housing Specialist of The Centers, Barbara Wheeler, the Administrator of Mid-Florida Homeless Coalition, James Sleighter, the Director of Mission Citrus, as well as local homeless men and women.

Eighteen names of local homeless people who died were read in Daytona Beach, FL at a candlelight vigil.. One homeless man shared his story and led the group in singing “Amazing Grace” to end the vigil.

An event was held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on December 29th. Candles and hot chocolate were passed out to around fifty people. Those people lit their candles in honor of the homeless people they knew who died in the last year.

A ceremony was held in Jacksonville, FL to honor those homeless who had died in Duval County in 2010. No one knew the exact number of how many people died. They remembered Brother Bob, a homeless man who died in 2010. The event remembered the individuals like Bob who put a human face on a growing problem.

Mayor Cates of Key West, FL and City Commissioner Weekley, proclaimed December 21st as National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. A memorial service was held to recognize twenty three homeless people who died in 2010. The remains were added to the vault dedicated to Maurice “Bo” Smith, a formerly homeless person. “A final home for the homeless” is written on the vault. Their ages raged from 33-70 years old. After each of their names was read, a bell tolled and a large wreath was placed upon the vault.

In Miami, FL, eighty homeless people died in 2010. The 10th Annual vigil to remember homeless was sponsored by the Miami Coalition for the Homeless, the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust and the Homeless/Formerly Homeless Forum. The youngest homeless person remembered was 18, the oldest was 72. 100 people, homeless included, gathered for the event.

In Milton, FL, citizens of the town gathered together, homeless and formerly homeless alike, to stand vigil for those who died of homelessness in 2010.

For the 10th year in a row in Collier County, a memorial service and candlelight vigil was held in memory of the homeless in Naples, FL. The event was meant to bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness and to remember the lives of those lost.
The Nashville Homeless Power Project hosted the Annual Homeless Memorial in Nashville, TN. The announcement for the event states, “We gather so that our friends and family on the streets are not lost completely in vain, but with the hope that enough of us who have the power to change the system are moved to work together to do so.” They recognized all homeless people who died in 2010.

Every pew was filled in the chapel in Orlando, FL during the memorial service to commemorate the lives of the homeless members of the community who died in 2010. Thirty-three homeless people died in Orlando in 2010.

In Pensacola, FL, there was a moment of silence and then singing to remember the homeless lost in 2010 at the Waterfront Rescue Mission.

In Tallahasse, FL there was a Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day candlelight vigil. There was live music, prayers, words of remembrance and the reading of the names of those who lost their lives to homelessness. There was a reception after the service.

A memorial service honored fifty six homeless people who died in 2010 in Tampa, FL. The candlelight service reminded the attendees of the harsh reality of living on the streets. Additionally, the service was held to remind others of their responsibility in ending homelessness. There were approximately 300 attendees.

Thrity people in Titusville, FL gathered to remember the seventeen homeless men and women who died in the county in 2010. The event was described as an “emotional outdoor memorial.” The names of the deceased were read out loud and there were speakers from local advocacy groups and the commissioner’s office. Additionally, there were choral groups who sang.

Georgia

In 2010, a 70 year old homeless man was discovered dead in a shed in downtown Valdosta, GA. The organization, LAMP conducted a vigil for the homeless on December 21st. Participants were encouraged to bring donations of food and clothing.

The city of Atlanta, GA held their fifth annual National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day Candlelight Vigil at the new Rawson Haverty campus of Saint Joseph’s Mercy Care. The National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council collaborated to organize the event. Members of local service agencies, churches, Saint Joseph’s Health System, the state and city government and the homeless attended the event. The event began with a march to Atlanta City Hall. Some people carried coffins and signs. The event included prayer and respect for the lives of the homeless who suffered from the cruelties and malignance of the streets. It showed the valiant, Atlanta effort of community empathy and solidarity. “Lord help us to see your face in the eyes of every homeless person we meet,” the crowd prayed. “Empower us so that through word, deed, financial and political means we will bring justice and peace to all of our homeless brothers and sisters.” Saint Joseph’s Mercy Care gave out blankets, jackets, gloves and other gifts to the homeless in need.

There was a National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day held in Savannah, GA at the Salvation Army Community Center.

A National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day event was held in Riverdale, GA by the Sconiers Homeless Preventive Organization.

Idaho

Citizens of Boise, ID hosted their fifth annual memorial service on National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. The event was co-sponsored by Interfaith Sanctuary, Corpus Christi House Day Shelter, and El-Ada Community Partnership. The service included Native American drumming, prayers from Christian, Buddhist and Native American religions, as well as Scottish bagpipes. The event was held to honor the lives of Dusty Carnes, Paul Johnston, Robert Philips, Lawrence Hough, Cristopher David Fuller, John Flynn, Kirk Stevens, Andrew Keslar, and David Sherrets.

Illinois

Local teens held a vigil for homeless youth and those who died homeless in Winnetka, IL. The three senior students who organized the event were inspired to do so after volunteering with the Night Ministry and the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. They created an organization called SAHY (Student Alliance for Homeless Youth). The vigil included a speaker who experienced homelessness and the principal of an elementary school that has a large homeless population.

InChicago, IL citizens gathered together in honor of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day to remember those lost to homelessness. The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, along with the Ignatian Spirituality Project, hosted a memorial service and candle-lighting ceremony at Old St. Patrick’s Church. Wayne Richard, a community organizer for the coalition and former homeless person, said, “The purpose of the memorial is to honor them. My experiences had left me unable to participate in life and with other people. That was the spiritual homelessness…..Nobody deserves that.”

Indiana

100 members of the local community, including those living on the streets, attended the candlelight vigil in Jeffersonville, IN. The attendees lit candles and sang “Amazing Gace” to remember the homeless that lost their lives in 2010.

A Homeless Persons’ Memorial Service was held in Indianapolis, IN. A complimentary luncheon for the homeless, the formerly homeless and service providers was held.

The Homeless Task Force hosted a Homeless Memorial Walk in Fort Wayne, IN to honor the homeless who died in 2010.

Nine homeless people who died in 2010 were honored in Evansville, IN through a homeless memorial service. This was the 11th annual event. Eighty candles were lit to represent the number of homeless people who died in the town since 1990. The service began with “Amazing Grace” and “Forever Young” played on guitars. Luzada Hayes said , “We gather also to commit ourselves to becoming a more concerned community… a community which brings not only our material resources, but more important, our resources of heart and soul that constrain us to share ourselves.”

Iowa

Quad-Cities Shelter and the Transitional Housing Council hosted their annual memorial service for the homeless in Davenport, IA. The service included music and poetry. The vigil lasted the entire day as a visual reminder of the homeless people who died in the past year. Donations of cold weather clothing, blankets and toiletries were collected.

A candlelight vigil was held in Des Moines, IA to recognize and honor Iowans who have died in homelessness. The event was organized by Joppa Outreach. Items and money were collected at the event.

Kentucky

In Louisville, KY, mourners of homeless people whose lives had been lost in 2010 carried a symbolic casket and held vigil.

Maine

In Auburn, ME, the Lewiston Auburn Alliance for Services to the Homeless (LAASH) sponsored a candlelight vigil in memory of those in Auburn who died at the hands of homelessness. Those who came were encouraged to bring food to be donated to local shelters. Bob Rowe, the committee chairman, said, “The current great recession has put pressure on vulnerable population; the poor, the young and the elderly who are at risk of homelessness and this year, more than ever before, they need our support during the holiday season.” The Lewiston Auburn Alliance for Services to the Homeless and the cities of Lewiston and Auburn adopted a ten year plan last year to end homelessness

In Portland, ME, a candlelight procession led by a bagpiper began the annual vigil to recognize the plight of the homeless. More than 200 people attended the event to honor the twenty homeless people who died in Portland in 2010.

In Bangor, ME Penobscot Community Health Care, with the help of the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter and about twelve other organizations honored the lives of the nine known deaths of homeless individuals from Bangor, ME. The organizations held a march as well as a vigil to remember those lost due to the torture of homelessness. Hope House Director Mike Andrik said, “In working the homeless and remembering them for who they are – as members of the community – we’re celebrating their lives and mourning their deaths.”

Tedford Housing of Brunswick, ME hosted a service in honor of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. They held a candlelight procession to Maine Street Mall, where they read the names of the men and women who died from homelessness. Reverend Bill Bliss from the United Church of Christ in Bath provided a memorial sermon. Reverend Geoff Parker from First Parish Church in Brunswick gave a closing mediation.

Maryland

In Towson, MD sixyt people gathered together to remember the lives of 14 homeless who lost their lives. This was the third annual memorial vigil. During the event the organizers read the names of the deceased. Following the service, there was a vigil and march. A homeless woman spoke and thanked the attendees for all that they do. The names of the deceased will be added to a memorial that an Boy Scout made for his Eagle Scout Project.

In Elkton, MD the 8th Annual National Homeless Person Memorial Day was held. The event included singing, testimonies from people experiencing homelessness and a candlelight meditation/prayer.

The Baltimore, MD City Council voted unanimously to dedicate December 21st as Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. Baltimore Mayor Rawlings-Blake proclaimed the day as a “day of remembrance for those who have lived and died in our shelters, on our streets, and other places not fit for human dwelling.” There was a public memorial service at the Inner Harbor’s Amphitheater. SHARP, a coalition of homeless service providers and advocates working to Stop Homelessness and Reduce Poverty, organized the service. Like the 3.5 million suffering without a home across the country, at least 35,000 people in Baltimore are homeless, according to the Mayoral and City Council.

Massachusetts

Twenty one stained glass sailing vessels represented the twenty one people who died in 2010 as a result of homelessness in Hyannis, MA. Robert Charon said during the event, “Everyone has a right to dignity and self-respect. Homelessness has a way of taking that away.” Senator Wolf attended the event. As each name of the deceased homeless was read, a bell was tolled and a white flower was placed in a vase of remembrance.

The Church on the Hill in Beacon Hill, Boston, MA held an Interfaith Memorial Service in honor of the 21st Annual National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day in memory of the two hundred lives lost due to homelessness. There was music and reflection by those bravely suffering through homelessness and those who had beat homelessness against all odds and found new, stable lives.

Michigan

A church in Detroit, MI hosted a service for the homeless. The event included speakers from the religious community and a traditional holiday dinner. Donations of warm clothing and personal items were distributed to around 200 homeless people.

Minnesota

Several hundreds gathered in Minneapolis, MN to mourn the death of those who struggled with homelessness in 2010. 126 people died in 2010 – seven more than last year. The average age of these people was 44 years old. The event began with a silent march from the government center to the United Methodist Church. The names of the deaths were read aloud and candles were lit in their memory. One homeless man remarked, “If you didn’t exist, you’re not remembered.” This event helped remember those often forgotten.

A Christmas Eve candlelight vigil was held in Duluth, MN to remember homeless individuals who have died in 2010. Deb Holman of CHUM said the event will hopefully “bring awareness to the community that this is a reality and that people do die homeless and that everyone deserves a home.”

Mississippi

The 2nd Annual Candlelight Vigil at the City of Hattiesburg, MS Civic Center was held to remember homeless people who died in 2010. The event consisted of prayer, song and remembrance.

Missouri

A memorial service to honor those homeless who lost their lives on the street was held in St. Joseph, MO.

“The Longest Night Memorial” was held in St. Louis, MO in honor of homeless people who died in 2010. The memorial service included songs and prayers. Each of the thirty six deceased homeless names were read and service providers stood in their place. The mayor of the city spoke in support of his commitment to end homelessness. Additionally, the color guard presented flags in honor of those homeless who were veterans. The ceremony was attended by an interfaith crowd, consisting of ministers from Muslim, Christian and Jewish faiths.

Citizens of Columbia, MO gathered together in honor of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day to remember those lost to homelessness. A vigil was held at Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist Church that followed a memorial service for homicide victim Jerry Schneider, found dead at a homeless camp. Tammy Crow, a friend of Schneider, said, “When people are homeless, they are forgotten and nobody realizes what they go through.” Pastor Meg Hegemann said, “It is in times of crisis when people connect most to one another and that’s when we can move forward in a positive way.” Thirteen other victims of homelessness had their names read during the vigil.

Montana

In Yellowstone County, MT, Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day was commemorated. Three dozen people attended the vigil and warm clothing accessories were handed out to the homeless afterwards. It was hosted by the RiverStone Health Healthcare for the Homeless and it was held on the Courthouse lawn. The mayor declared it an official Remembrance Day. The organizers believed it was important for the participants to be outside in the cold to feel what the homeless experience everyday.

Sixty people gathered in Helena, MT for the Homeless Persons’ Memorial Vigil. The temperature was only 10 degrees, but the people stayed to honor thirty seven homeless who died in Montana. This was the 6th Annual Event to raise awareness in Montana. The event was held outdoors so that people could empathize with their homeless neighbors. Clothing and items were given out to the homeless after the event.

Billings, MT took a moment on Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day to remember the countless number of lives lost due to homelessness. Riverstone Health, who cares for almost 1,400 homeless people a year, held the candlelight vigil on the Yellowstone County courthouse lawn.

Nevada

In Las Vegas, NV a vigil was organized to memorialize the homeless people who died this year in the valley. Sixty people died in 2010 – eighteen more than in 2009. Fifty four of them were men and six were women, ranging from 20-79 years old. six of them were veterans. One of the organizers said, “The yearly vigil is important to offer hope to homeless people still living on the street, to let them know someone cares whether they live or die.”

New Hampshire

Citizens of Laconia, NH gathered together in honor of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day.

Citizens of Keene, NH gathered together in honor of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day.

Citizens of Concord, NH gathered together in honor of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. Food items were gathered for the Friendly Kitchen.

Citizens of Conway, NH gathered together in honor of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day for a candlelight vigil.

Citizens of Claremont, NH gathered together in honor of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day.

New Jersey

A memorial was held in Atlantic City, NJ.

A collaborative effort with churches and social service agencies was planned in Elizabeth, NJ to recognize Homeless Memorial Day.

A memorial service was held in Trenton, NJ to remember nine homeless people who died in Mercer County this year. It was a breakfast service and it was attended by forty five people. Davidson, the director of the Lutheran office of Governmental Ministry said, “One of this things I think is important to remember is there are things we can do as a society to change the situation.”

In Jersey City, NJ, the second annual interfaith Memorial Service for the Homeless was held. Instead of holding a candlelight vigil, the service was held inside so that the homeless people participating would have a warm place to gather for a little. The coalition hosting the event served coffee and cookies. Bagged meals and clothes were distributed to those in need. A crowd of about fifty people attended. Members from the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faith participated in the service.

A memorial was held in Hackensack, NJ in Bergen County.

A memorial was held in Perth Amboy, NJ.

A memorial was held in Forked River, NJ.

The mayor of Newark, NJ proclaimed that December 21 be a day remembrance. He stated that it should not be a celebration, but a “somber reminder.” A memorial service was held on the first floor rotunda of City Hall. Currently there are 938 homeless people in Newark, NJ.

An event was held in Camden, NJ by Project HOPE. 

New Mexico

In Albuquerque, NM, the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness held its annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial Vigil. They gathered at the Memorial Wall at Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless and marched through Downtown. The march ended with a candlelight vigil at the First United Methodist Church.

New York

A memorial service in Rochester, NY honored deceased homeless. The Unity Health Reach Health Care for the Homeless program hosted the memorial service. The service included reading the names of the victims and lighting candles in their memory.

Citizens of Buffalo, NY remembered those who died from homelessness on National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. The Western New York Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Alliance of Western New York hosted the memorial service at the Garden of Hope.

A memorial service was held in New York City in remembrance of those who lost their life to homelessness. An interfaith service was held with refreshments and fellowship afterwards. Another event was hosted in New York City to recognize deceased homeless vets at Calverton National Cemetery. There was a long funeral procession of twenty horses. There were twenty homeless veterans honored. A third event was held at the Church of St. Francis Xavier. It was an extensive memorial service during which names were called out and there was prayer and song.

The second annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day was held in Jamestown, NY. A candlelight vigil and moment of silence took place. The event was planned to bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness and to remember those who lost their lives to homelessness.

North Carolina

In Asheville, NC, citizens held a candlelight vigil in Pritchard Park to commemorate the lives of the homeless who died in Asheville and Buncombe County. Seventeen people were lost to homelessness this year. The service included life stories and personal tributes for each person. The event was sponsored by the Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative, the Church of the Advocate, and the Haywood Street Congregation.

A memorial service was held in Greensboro, NC. A warm meal was served afterwards.

In High Point, NC, a Homeless Memorial Community Dinner was held on December 16th.

North Dakota

The Governor of North Dakota, John Hoeven, signed a proclamation in 2009 to make December 21st National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day.

In Norwich, CT a candle walk and memorial service was held to remember the homeless who had died in 2010. A spaghetti dinner fundraiser was held directly after to benefit the Norwich hospitality center.

A firelight Memorial Vigil was held in Fargo-Moorhead, ND to honor the thirty four to forty people who died in 2009 and 2010. Names of the homeless were read along with prayers.
Bismarck, ND held a memorial service in honor of the National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. Chaplin Gary Heaton of Medcenter One led the event with a free soup dinner afterwards. The service was welcome to all community members. The Missouri Valley Coalition for Homeless People sponsored the memorial service in the memory of those who died while trying to survive the depravity of homelessness.

Ohio

In the code of the State of Ohio, December 21st is designated as National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day.

Cincinatti, OH citizens gathered together in honor of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day to remember those lost to homelessness. The Greater Cincinatti Coalition for the Homeless held a press conference near a highway overpass where many homeless people camp. “The face of homelessness is changing,” the coalition said in a prepared statement. “In past years, families that hit hard times were often able to stay with a family member while they got back on their feet. Today, families have either exhausted this resource or their family members are too close to the edge to care for them.”

Cleveland, OH citizens gathered together in honor of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day to remember those lost to homelessness. A candlelight vigil was held by the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.

A memorial service was held in Dayton, OH to honor the memory of homeless people who died in the streets, at emergency shelters and in other conditions related to homelessness. As each name of a deceased homeless person was read a bell tolled. The even was sponsored by the Emergency Housing Coalition.

In Columbus, OH, the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless sponsored a memorial service to remember homeless who died during the year. Jim Rose, a homeless outreach specialist noted that the service is held on one of the coldest nights of the year. William Robinson Jr., a self-proclaimed homeless awareness advocate came to say a final goodbye to his father who passed away in July.

A memorial service was held in Cleveland, OH by the northeast Ohio Coalition. This was in conjunction with Ohio’s second annual Ohio Homeless Memorial Day.

Oregon

Albany, OR held its second annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial Service at Albany City Hall. The memorial ceremony “provides an opportunity to remember those who have died on Albany streets, in abandoned properties or open places, and from illnesses or conditions directly related to homelessness,” organizers said. According to Marilyn Smith, spokeswoman for Albany, five homeless people died that year. Mayor Sharon Konopa read the Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day Proclamation and lit the first memory candle. Observers lit a candle for each deceased homeless individual as the names were read aloud. Friends and family spoke lovingly in memory of the lives tragically lost. Wes Sedlacek, Chaplain of Albany General Hospital, offered reflections and prayers. Viyanna Langager recited her poem about the homeless experience and they played the song Temporary Home as they released balloons. Everyone was welcome to a free turkey dinner with the works in Monteith Riverpark, prepared by Albany Helping Hands shelter residents, as well as members of God’s Heart and Love INC. After dinner, people sang Christmas carols and were invited to sleep outside City Hall to experience what the homeless go through every day. They collected generous donations of socks, thermal wear, knitted hats, gloves, sweatshirts, and coats.

Portland, OR recognized Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day on December 21st.

A vigil was held in Douglas County, OR to remember those that died without a home.

Pennsylvania

A few dozen people gathered in Wilkes-Barre, PA to remember the homeless who died this past year. Most of the people were either homeless or work with homeless issues. There was a memorial service and a candlelight vigil. Interfaith prayers were read. At the end each person picked up a piece of paper with the name of a homeless person who had passed away and read their name aloud while blowing out their candle.

Homeless activists remembered the 101 homeless in Philadelphia, PA who died in 2010 in JFK Plaza. The attendees had candles and signs of the people who had passed away. Their names were read aloud in LOVE park. Sister Mary Scullion led the ceremony and then spoke to the tough economic realities that the city is facing. She said, “We use this occasion to call on all Philadelphians and all America to wake up and recommit ourselves to ending homelessness.” The theme of the event was “Remember, Hope and Heal.”

Thirty people attended a memorial service in Pittsburgh, PA, to reflect on those who lost their life to homelessness. Three people were honored. The organization, Operation Safety Net in conjunction with the city of Pittsburgh hangs a plaque every year underneath an overpass for every single homeless person who dies. 119 homeless people died in Pittsburg since 1991.

Rhode Island

A Homeless Memorial Service and Luncheon was held in Providence, RI on January 26th. Attendees were invited to “remember and celebrate the strength and spirit of our brothers and sisters who were homeless and pass from our daily lives in 2010.”

South Carolina

Thirteen homeless people died in 2010 in Myrtle Beach, SC. There was a memorial service held for them. The organizer of the event, Carol Stallings said that it is humbling to talk with families of those who have passed away, “Especially when some have come so far away from home, and that parent, or that brother or sister, flies in to claim the body.”

Tennessee

In Knoxville, TN, a memorial service was held and conducted entirely by homeless or formerly homeless people. Around fourteen names were read, the event was well attended.

Texas

The 4th annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial Service was held in San Antonio, TX. There was a candlelight service, music, prayer, poetry, a scripture reading, a naming of the deceased and the tolling of the bell after each name was read.

The Community Health Center of Lubbock, TX hosted a vigil on December 21st.

Citizens of Caldwell, TX held a service in honor of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day to remember those lost to the horrific reality of homelessness. Many gathered at town square to hear a mayoral proclamation and music by friends of the ministry. Donations of socks, gloves, and blankets were sent to Rocking A Ministry.

In Corpus Christi, TX, 100 people attended a memorial service at sunrise in honor of the twenty homeless people who died in 2010. The event was sponsored by The Homeless Issues Partnership. The attendees placed roses for each person who died as their name was read. It was stated that six of the people died in the bitter cold, only two died in hospitals and six of the people were homeless women. This was the 10th Annual event. The attendees also sang “Danny Boy” and “I’ll Fly Away.”

National Homeless Memorial Day was sponsored by Senator Ellis, Council Member Adams and many more groups in Houston, TX on December 21st. During this past year, 112 homeless in Houston have passed away. The Director of Community Resources for the Coalition for the Homeless said, “In years past, we have found that this event not only helps us in the network to re-focus our efforts to end homelessness, it also serves as a memorial service for family members and friend without homes who have passed.” Following the services, attendees participated in outreach to those living on the street. Blankets, food and winter coats were distributed.

Fort Worth, TX held an event for Homeless Person’s Memorial Day. The event was hosted by the Tarrant County Homeless Coalition.

Utah

“This night is a somber and shocking reminder of how difficult it is for those without a home,” said Mayor Ralph Becker of Salt Lake City, UT during their candlelight vigil in memory of those homeless people who lost their lives on the street. The event is in its sixth year. Community members, homeless people and residents came together for this event.

Vermont

On January 5th, the citizens of Montpelier, VT participated in “Homeless Memorial Vigil and Legislative Day.” The vigil took place on the statehouse steps and the attendees commemorated the thousands of Vermonters who received housing or services this year. This is an annual event.

Citizens of Brattleboro, VT gathered at Pliny Park to illuminate the morbid reality of homelessness for those blissfully unaware. They held a candlelight vigil that included a brief presentation detailing what homeless people must suffer through, songs from the choruses of many churches, and closed with a march to the First Baptist Church homeless shelter. Melinda Bussino, executive director of the Brattleboro Area Drop In Center, said, “It’s just important to keep the issue of homelessness in the forefront of the community.”

Citizens of Burlington, VT gathered on Church street to honor the lives lost due to homelessness on National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. The Committee on Temporary Shelter hosted a candlelight vigil to remember the horrors the homeless face every day. Students from Edmunds Middle School Chamber Chorus performed at the ceremony.

Virginia

A moment of silence was held in memory of homeless people who died on the streets this year in Staunton, VA. There was also a candlelight vigil and a march to the cemetery. Many of the participants were people who call the mission their home.

In Richmond, VA, a memorial service was held at St. Paul’s. The candlelight vigil commemorated the seventeen people who died without homes this year in Richmond. The names of the deceased were read and then prayers were offered.

In Newport News, VA, a memorial service was held to raise awareness of the homeless population’s plight. 

A memorial service was held in Fredericksburg, VA to remember five homeless people who died in 2010. One of the organizers of the event, Meghann Cotter said, “We want to remind our community that living in homeless circumstances takes years off your life.”

Citizens of Charlottesville, VA gathered together in honor of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day to remember those lost to homelessness.

Washington

In Yakima, WA, the homeless who had died in the past year were remembered in a vigil.

In Spokane, WA, there was a National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day ceremony hosted by the Community Health Association of Spokane. This is an annual event. They read off the names of the homeless who died in the past year and released a balloon as the names was read. There were also numerous speakers at the event.

In Seattle, WA, a homeless remembrance project as been approved for Pike Place Market.

In Bremerton, WA, citizens formed a circle of solidarity outside First Christian Church in honor of the National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. Each participant clutched an illuminating white candle in honor of the homeless who had anonymously died in the Bremerton woods. “We are here to say that’s not OK,” said Reverend Debbie Little of First Christian. There was song and reflection to mourn and celebrate the lives of those lost to homelessness.

Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day was held in Vancouver, WA and was hosted by the Council for the Homeless and the Clark County Coalition of Service Providers. Light refreshments and fellowship followed the service.

Wisconsin

In Madison, WI, faith communities gathered on Capitol Square to support the homeless on the longest night of the year. The event was the 3rd annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial Service. Afterwards, hats, gloves and scarves were distributed. Additionally, people were encouraged to bring small bags of homemade treats to share with the homeless.

The 4th Annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial was held this year in Kenosha, WI. One death was reported in 2010. His name was Michael Clark. He was chronically homeless and died in a makeshift tent in a sleeping bag given to him by the organization “Walkin’ in my shoes.”  His daughter was contacted and her family attended the ceremony. The ceremony consisted of a balloon ceremony and a litany reading.

Ten candles were lit in La Crosse, WI as a part of an outdoor event to commemorate the National Homeless Person’s Memorial Day. An 11th candle was lit to represent the unknown that has died. The event was organized by students in a global citizenship class from Globe University. One previously homeless student remarked on how quick becoming homeless can be.

St. John Homeless Shelter in Green Bay, WI held a memorial prayer service event to remember people who had died on the streets, specifically the five homeless residents that died in Green Bay.

Wyoming

Citizens of Cheyenne, WY gathered together in honor of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day to remember those lost to homelessness. The Wyoming Coalition for the Homeless sponsored the event and held a service with speakers Reverend Rick Veit, Director of the Wyoming Coalition for Homeless Virginia Sellner, Reverend Bill Jividan, and Reverend Robert Schmidt.

Citizens of Casper, WY gathered together in honor of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day to remember those lost to homelessness. Soldiers of Light Church organized a candlelight vigil with help of the Health Care for the Homeless Clinic. They remember clinic patients Becky Swartz, Kim Keith Schultz, Tony Pitmon, Tommie Masters, and Douglas Bright.

National Coalition for the Homeless
2201 P Street NW
Washington, DC 20037-1033
202-462-4822
info@nationalhomeless.org

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