Hope is that Homeless Memorials Will Break Stigma Around Being Homeless
On Wednesday, December 21, 2016, six New Jersey communities held Homeless Memorials events. Camden, Bergen, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, and Union Counties remembered individuals experiencing homelessness who passed away over the last year.
Atlantic City held a memorial on the evening of December 19, 2016.
Camden held a memorial service for those who died living on the streets on the 500 block of West Street.
Its latest count, NJCounts 2016, found just under 700 homeless persons experiencing homelessness in Camden County on the night of January 26, 2016.
On December 21, 2016, NBC 10 interviewed Project Hope staff about the planned event. “Project Hope says that they see homeless individuals of all ages and they are getting younger, people who have lost their homes for a variety of reasons.”
Said Diane Orlando,
“It’s very heartbreaking because there is a lot of stigma that is tied around homelessness … just to break those stigmas, they are not all on drugs. A lot of them for financial reasons, ended up homeless.
Mercer County held a Homeless Persons’ Memorial Service at Turning Point United Methodist Church.
The Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness, working with local homeless providers and homeless individuals gathered information on individuals who died while living on the street or in emergency shelter, as well as individuals who died while living in transitional or permanent housing for the formerly homeless.
The service reflected on the lives of those who died while homeless and will highlight the Mercer Alliance’s and the community’s continuing commitment towards ending homelessness.
“During the Holiday Season, we ask everyone to remember that individuals and families are experiencing homelessness in America and Mercer County and we need to continue focus on ending homelessness,” said Frank Cirillo, Executive Director of Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness.
“We come here today to remember members of our community who have passed away; or have gone home during the past year. People, who during their lives were homeless – an unfortunate label that carries with it a stigma that defined them in life and death. Homeless advocate Michael Stoops once wrote, ‘If you die homeless, your death goes unnoticed, just like your life,’” said Cirillo. “Today we are here to make sure that the death and lives of these brothers and sisters – these parts of the great human heart – do not go unnoticed or unremembered.”