Memorial vigil honors homeless

(Plain Press, January 2007) On Thursday, December 21st, over 100 Clevelanders joined people throughout the United States in observing 20th Annual Homeless Memorial Day, to offer a vigil in memory of those who have suffered and died as a result of homelessness in the past year.  This year’s Candlelight Vigil was held at Franklin Circle Church 1688 Fulton Road. Franklin Circle Church (Disciples of Christ) joined with the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) in sponsoring the event.

Mayor Frank Jackson, the first Cleveland Mayor to speak at the vigil in its 20-year history, pledged more cooperation from the city on issues facing the homeless.

An inter-religious ceremony, which included Christian, Jewish and Muslim clerics, followed the mayor’s speech. The names of all those who passed away while homeless this past year were read and candles lit in their honor.
   
Brian Davis, Executive Director of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, petitioned Clevelanders to keep homelessness at the front of the city’s agenda for 2007 and to remember that homelessness is a health care issue, and studies show periods of homelessness do shorten a person's life.

“NEOCH,” said Davis, “has a full agenda for 2007 including work on temporary labor, highlighting family homelessness, pushing for a 24 hour drop in center, expanding voice mail statewide, constructing a self help legal center, and expanding the hate crimes law to include homeless people.”

Davis asked for the community’s help in supporting NEOCH as members, volunteers and supporters at events. He noted the annual Homeless Stand Down is scheduled for February. Davis described the Homeless Stand Down as ”a winter festival of respite, re-supply, and reconnection for the homeless in Cleveland. Over the course of four days we provide hot meals, haircuts, massages, access to health and social service providers, free winter outerwear, toiletries and much more.”

The dates for the Homeless Stand Down are: Saturday, Feb. 10 (at Pilgrim Congregational Church) Friday, Feb. 16 (at the Cleveland Convention Center), Sunday, Feb. 18 (at Trinity Cathedral) and Monday, Feb. 19 (at First Church Cleveland UMC).

Donations needed for the Homeless Stand Down include 700 sets of new men’s winter clothing. This should include: men's winter coats, men's boots, men's underwear, men's socks, men's winter gloves, hats, and scarves. In addition new or used totes or backpacks are needed, as well as, 700 men's personal care kits, and 2400 bag lunches.

A number of volunteers are needed to help with the Homeless Stand Down. Four hundred event volunteers, 100 office and sorting volunteers, 50 haircutters, 10 physicians, and 50 massage therapists or Reiki practitioners. For further information on how you and/or you congregation can become involved, please contact Sarah of InterACT at 216.271.0230 or sommers@interactcleveland.org.

For additional information contact NEOCH at 423-0540, or visit the NEOCH website at www.neoch.org.

 

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