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In Unity: Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, 12/21/2011 December 15, 2011

Posted by abhomeless in Events.
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Let us come together in unity to commemorate the lives of those who have died while experiencing homelessness this year.

Our annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day will be held on Wednesday, December 21, the first day of winter and the longest night of the year.  This day of recognition  will provide an opportunity for our community to grieve the recent deaths of those men and women who experienced homelessness in Asheville and Buncombe County.   Our community will unite together to show regard for those community members who are currently experiencing homelessness, as well as show support for the local agencies that work to end homelessness for all.

Every year, an average of 20 people die while homeless in this community alone, and the latest deaths of beloved community members have highlighted the issue of homelessness.  People throughout Asheville and Buncombe will join together to lift up the lives of those who died, and recommit to Ending Homelessness so that no one else dies on our streets.

The Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day:  Reflection and participation.

The Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day is co-sponsored by the Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative, the First Presbyterian Church of Asheville, and the Haywood Street Congregation.  There are several ways that the community be involved in this year’s event.

Memorial Service, December 21 at 12:30 

  • This year’s memorial service will be held at The Haywood Street Congregation, which “seeks to be a place of welcome to all.”  Each Wednesday, the church holds a worship service, and many of those who attend experience homelessness in the Asheville-Buncombe community.
  • The Haywood Street Congregation will open its doors at 9 am for anyone who would like to come inside the sanctuary for a time of reflection.  At 11:30, the church will be providing a free community meal.  This will be followed by a special memorial service at 12:30.
  • The memorial service will provide an opportunity for anyone to share personal memories and stories of those who passed away in 2011.  At the service, various community members will read the names of those who have passed and light candles in their memory.  There will also be music, provided by Eric Wall of First Presbyterian Church.
  • The Haywood Street  Congregation is located at 297 Haywood Street at the corner of Haywood Street and Patton Avenue in Downtown Asheville.

Donations accepted

  • Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day falls on the first day of winter.  Winter is a difficult time of year for those experiencing homelessness, especially when there is a shortage of winter clothing and supplies.
  • Community members who would like to donate coats, hats, jackets, and blankets may bring them to The Haywood Street Congregation between the hours of 9 am and 12 pm.

Candles and posters

  • To show unity, downtown businesses and residents are invited to place a Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day poster or a burning candle in their window throughout the night.
  • If you would like to download a poster to print, you may click here.

On any given night, over 500 individuals are without a home in our community. Those who experience homelessness are at a much greater risk of injury and death than their housed counterparts. According to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, those without housing are 3-4 times more likely to die prematurely than those with housing. The average age of death for those experiencing homelessness is around 50 years in contrast to the average of 78 years for the rest of the population. Deaths among those without housing are often the consequence of inadequate access to healthcare, hate crimes and exposure to harsh weather.

We hope you will join us in commemorating the lives of those who died while homeless in 2011.  So far, we have learned of 22 people who have died this past year. If you know of someone, please contact us so that we can read their name during the memorial.

There are still opportunities to volunteer and help with the service, if interested contact Rachel at  the Homeless Initiative (rwintenburg@ashevillenc.gov).

Let us honor those who have passed away in 2011

Mell Ailes

Jesse Bailey

Charles Davis

Richard Evans

Jeffrey Gault

Steve Haluko

Gerald Hixson

Rhonda Lordman

Clarence Matthews

George May

Kelly Metcalf

Adrian Nelson

Rachel Nesbeth

Rick Ochoa

Sharon Ogle

Ian Pennell

William Porter

Matthew Ratliff

Vernon Rauch

Destiny Reifschneider

Sandra Smart

Larry Short

William Wing

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