One of Nine NJ Homeless Persons’ Memorial Vigil Events
On December 21, 2017, at 7:00 p.m., eighty-five people including persons who were homeless, non-profit agencies and interfaith congregations gathered at The First Presbyterian Church in Cranford for a second annual Homeless Memorial Vigil to remember forty-three of our homeless neighbors.
This event, which is open to the public, is held on the day with the least amount of daylight and the longest night. This day has been chosen as a time to remember all homeless people who died on the cold streets or living in dangerous abandoned buildings during the past year due to their lack of shelter or care.
“As people of faith, no matter what our religious tradition or the House of Worship we attend, it is our responsibility to make serving those in need, especially the homeless, a priority within our congregations,” said Skip Winter of First Presbyterian Church in Cranford.
Cranford Radio covered the invite and interviewed many of the participants.
Organizers of the Homeless Sabbath weekend and Vigil include:
- Community Access Unlimited,
- Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless,
- Family Promise Union County,
- Gateway Family YMCA,
- Iris House,
- Monarch Housing Associates, and the
- Union County Interfaith Coordinating Council.
The Vigil included the rereading of forty-three names of those who died during the past year, music and interfaith readings.
“Dying homeless and anonymous can only be the loneliest way to die. Everyone deserves the dignity of being named and remembered,” said Linda M. Flores-Tober, Executive Director, Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless. “By doing this we make them present and redeem ourselves.”
“A homeless person feels invisible; they have not only lost their home, they have lost their place to ‘be’ in the world. To have lived and died unnoticed is heartbreaking and unacceptable. We must do better. At the Vigil, we will recognize those who have perished due to homelessness. Let us continue our vigilance in acknowledging and advocating for those who are currently living in a homeless situation.”
These counties also held memorials this year:
- Mercer and
- Middlesex Counties.
The Vigil in Union County comes on the heels of the second annual Homeless Sabbath Weekend held across Union County held December 15-17, 2017.
On the night of January 24, 2017, 475 people, including 55 people without shelter, experienced homelessness in Union County, according to NJ Counts, the Point-In-Time count. The Homeless Sabbath Weekend organizers believe that no one should be homeless for the holidays or at any time of the year.