35 Lost Lives Call for Us to Continue Pushing Forward
BY: JOSH SPRING, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
December 21 marked National Homeless Memorial Day. Approximately 150 cities throughout the country took part in honoring the lives of people who passed in 2011 while homeless. Locally the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition led the memorial the evening of the 21st. Approximately 50 people gathered to honor 34 people who died in 2011 while homeless or having just exited homelessness. The group also honored Ed Deering, a man who had worked at the Drop Inn Center and lead many people through struggle to recovery from the disease of addiction. Mr. Deering had experienced homelessness himself and with the assistance of others had overcome.
Those gathered, congregated at the corner of Race and 14th Streets with candles in hand, signifying the light given to all of us by each person that passed. 35 ribbons were handed out, each with the name of someone who passed; these names were pinned to the fronts of people’s coats. Stories were heard about specific people, others spoke of the tragedy of homelessness in general. Still others issued passionate pushes to continue pressing forward with the belief that housing is a basic human right. Songs were sung bringing the body close. Prayers were issued that each person and organization would be constantly re-invigorated with urgency to struggle for an end to homelessness.
Earlier in the day the Consumer Advisory Committee of the Cincinnati Health Network and the Homeless Congress worked to convene a service in collaboration with First Lutheran Church on Race Street. At this service people were honored with the reading of names, messages from individuals and organizations and a reminder from Pastor Fred Cook to remember those who have gone and to take full use of that memory to push us forward to create better life.
On average each year in Cincinnati, the Coalition is able to track the names of about 30 people in Cincinnati who died while homeless or having just exited homelessness. There are other people who have passed whose names are not known to the group, but are also honored. Homelessness requires inhuman exposure to bitter cold, sweltering heat, tearing illness, mounting stress and burdensome responsibility- stripping years and sometimes decades from people’s lives. The primary causes of homelessness are a lack of affordable housing, lack of living-wage employment and lack of health-care. The Coalition works for a day when “homelessness” is a long-forgotten word and no longer is it allowed to steal precious lives.
Below you will find a portion of a reading from Yom Kippur, followed by a listing of names. Please heed the call of those that have gone before us: human rights, justice: housing, living wage, healthcare, community, love…
“The Blessing of Memory”
It is hard to sing of oneness when our world is not complete…
When those who one brought wholeness to our life have gone and,
Naught but memory can fill the emptiness their passing leaves behind.
But memory can tell us only what we were, in company with those we loeved;
It cannot help us find what each of us, alone, must now become.
Yet no one is really alone;
Those who live no more,
Echo still within our thoughts and words, and
What they did is part of what we have become.
We do best homage to our dead when we live our lives most fully,
Even in the shadow of our loss…
For each of our lives is worth the life of the whole world;
In each one is the breath of the Ultimate One.
In affirming the One,
We affirm the worth of each one whose life now ended
Brought us closer to the Source of life
In whose unity no one is alone and every life finds purpose.
- 1. Rodney Bartleson,
- 2. Tim Blevins,
- 3. Cecil Bradley,
- 4. Tamara Brautigan,
- 5. Don Cargile,
- 6. Mary Collins,
- 7. Shelia Cook,
- 8. Stanley Crouch,
- 9. David Eaton,
- 10. Christina Fee,
- 11. Lauren Fredrick,
- 12. Lee Hughes,
- 13. Gregory Kennedy,
- 14. Julie MacDonald,
- 15. Tim Maguire,
- 16. Ron Matthews,
- 17. Bruce Morris,
- 18. Gentre Patillo,
- 19. Frank Prasuhn,
- 20. William Pucket,
- 21. Jerry Ralston,
- 22. Kim Sherman,
- 23. Roy Vega,
- 24. Jon Waino,
- 25. David White,
- 26. Cynthia Williams,
- 27. Ed Wiedmer,
- 28. Vitoria Wamsley,
- 29. Jerome Swanson,
- 30. Rodney Schaffer,
- 31. Sylvia Townsend,
- 32. David “Bones” Hebert,
- 33. Charles Cole,
- 34. Keith Williams
- 35. Ed Deering,