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Today is Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day December 21, 2011

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Today is Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. Held on eve of the longest night of the year, this service commemorates the lives of those who died while homeless in our community in 2011. It also calls us to join together so that no one else has to die on our streets.

Twenty-Five people died this past year alone; even though these were tragedies, there is still hope that arises out of the lives they lived. The tragedy of Mell Ailes’ death on Thanksgiving impacted many who knew him; he had been a staple in the Asheville community and always kept a smile on his face! His warmth touched many hearts, and he always wanted to help anyone in whatever way he could.

The people who died were friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members in our community.

  • Gerald Hixon found his way from homelessness into housing and had even become a member of the Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee before his health problems, exacerbated by homelessness, caused his untimely death.
  • Ian Pennell was born in Sterlingshire, Scotland in 1947.  He was an accomplished artist and craftsman, specializing in jewelry-making.  For the past twenty-years, Mr. Pennell traveled across the United States, living in his van and selling hand-made jewelry in various folk art galleries and craft guilds while making connections with people along the way.
  • Sharon Ogle was a gentle soul who loved her children and cared for those around her. She was a regular volunteer at A HOPE and was always grateful for the connections she made through the day center
  • Steve Halulko, just 22 when he died, was an energetic, bright young man with charm who loved his friends and noticed the people around him.

Today’s service honors everyone listed below, in addition to those who are not named—those who have had to suffer from health problems, violence, and hunger while homeless.  The service is a joint project between the Homeless Initiative, Homeless Coalition, First Presbyterian Church of Asheville, and the Haywood Street Congregation.  It will take place at 12:30PM today at 297 Haywood St., Asheville NC.  Donations of blankets, hats, gloves, and coats are also welcome at the same location today.

In Memory

Mell Ailes

Jesse Bailey

Charles Davis

Richard Evans

Jeffrey Gault

Steve Haluko

Gerald Hixson

Rhonda Lordman

Chris Mann

Clarence Matthews

George May

Kelly Metcalf

Gerald Morgan

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

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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

Today, we remember December 22, 2010

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Today we remember and join together to End Homelessness to honor

those who died while homeless in our community last year.

Jessey Aaron

Mike Anderson

Nolan Trent Baker

Mike Dashkevich

Roy Davis

James Deleza

Mick Everall

Jeff Grubb

Jeanine Guzalak

Rhonda Horton

Tami Leaven

Cristina Luther

Michael McColum

Colleen Overman

Lisa Pickens

John Seltz

Ricky Smith

D. Whitaker

Lee Allen Woody

Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day: 12/21-12/22 December 16, 2010

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Join us in commemorating the lives of those who died while experiencing homelessness this year.

Our annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial observance will be held on December 21 through December 22 and will provide an opportunity for our community to grieve for those we lost in 2010 and to show support for people in Asheville-Buncombe who are currently experiencing homelessness as well as support for the agencies that work to end homelessness for all.

We will open our reflection on December 21st, the longest night of the year, with a candlelight vigil in Pritchard Park at 5PM.

  • The vigil will be led by the Church of the Advocate. Free tea and coffee will be provided by local vendors.
  • To show support, local businesses and neighbors will burn a candle or put a poster up for the night.  If you plan to do this, be sure to contact us and let us know!   The poster can be downloaded here.
  • UPDATE – Click HERE to read the Citizen Times article with photos about the vigil.

On December 22nd the Haywood Street Congregation will host reflection and a memorial.

  • The Haywood Street Church will open its doors and sanctuary at 9AM for reflection. There will be a free community lunch at 11:30 and a Memorial Services at 12:30 that will provide an opportunity for us to share our memories of those who passed on in 2010 and to honor their lives.  The Haywood St. Congregation is located at 297 Haywood Street at the corner of Haywood Street & Patton Ave. in Downtown Asheville.
  • Community members can donate coats, hats, jackets, and blankets for people experiencing homelessness at the church that day.

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 2010.  So far, we have learned of 19 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 Katherine at  the Homeless Initiative (kmccrory@ashevillenc.gov)

Housing Matters December 3, 2010

Posted by abhomeless in The Basics.
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Homelessness is a huge topic so when we talk about it, it’s not always easy to know where to begin. That doesn’t mean that having an honest and constructive dialogue about a big topic like homelessness needs to be confusing, threatening or overwhelming!

In fact, we’re happy to lead the way and start talking about the issues that matter. The Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative’s social media project offers us a great platform as we take an honest accessible look at housing stability and homelessness in our community and answer questions like:

  • What does housing stability mean to people?
  • What resources and solutions exist to address the varied aspects of a housing crisis in our community?
  • What are some outcomes of our efforts to end homelessness?
  • And, very importantly, how can people get involved?

To get started, over the coming month, we will delve into the experiences of mothers, fathers, siblings and children who have lived, worked and even fought for our country and who have experienced a housing crisis to better understand the impact of homelessness in the Asheville-Buncombe community. You’ll hear about successes and, sadly, you’ll also hear about the stories of people who have lost their lives while experiencing homelessness as we come together for the 2010 Homeless Persons’ Memorial Service.

Stay updated on upcoming Homeless Initiative events by checking our Facebook page, our Twitter feed and the Events page of our website.

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